Home > Enterprise 2.0 in Industry, Facebook, Perpetual Beta, Web 2.0 > Making your web2.0 applications work

Making your web2.0 applications work

There is plenty of discussion and debate around online applications versus desktop applications and where the advantages lay.

One of the core concepts discussed with web 2.0 applications is their architecture being in a constant state of “perpetual beta“. Tim O’Reilly discusses this concept saying: “Users must be treated as co-developers, in a reflection of open source development practices… The perpetual beta, in which the product is developed in the open, with new features slipstreamed in on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis. It’s no accident that services such as Gmail, Google Maps, Flickr, del.icio.us, and the like may be expected to bear a “Beta” logo for years at a time.”

Unlike the release of new versions of products every few years by commercial giants such as Microsoft products that operate in perpetual beta have “come to be associated with the development and release of a service in which constant updates are the foundation for the habitability/usability of a service.” Wikipedia

This means that products operating in a perpetual beta have features introduced almost on a daily basis rather than commercial product where the user must wait for the release of each version for added features and functionality.

Francesco Mapelli believes because users can provide important feedbacks and feature requests, and companies should add and remove tools and services depending on the feedback and their interests. What can (and should) be in perpetual beta is the way small pieces link together, not the small pieces itself.

“Web 2.0 is like LEGO. You have small, simple and colorful pieces, and you build platforms and services with this pieces. You can build something that changes every day, but the small pieces you use must be solid.”



Facebook is an example of a web 2.0 application that is operating in a perpetual beta. Since its inception in February, 2004 the social networking leader has constantly provided updated functionality to its service. In 2010, it released an enhancement to its popular photo feature being high resolution photo uploads and an in-line photo viewer to the News Feed. These features came about as a result of Facebook listening to its customer base on what features they were looking for.

A further enhancement that came about in October 2010, was the drag-and-drop organising. Demonstrated in the video below, drag-and-drop organising is exactly as it sounds; users can now drag and drop albums and photos into any order they desire.

Amazon.com identifed that moving developers closer to both operations and customers creates a feedback loop that improves both quality of technology and service. This same principle was employed by Facebook which has resulted in an enhanced product brought on by the feedback of its customers.

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