How IoT Is Changing Web Development

IoT software development poses unique challenges. Here's how developers approach—or should approach—the nuanced problems IoT systems present.

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It’s true IoT is a real game-changer. The technology doesn’t only affect the consumers but also the providers of IoT solutions. IoT brings changes to software development on many levels, including web development. Complex IoT networks set new challenges for web developers in terms of both back and front ends. How do IoT systems differ exactly from good-old web development in the not-interconnected world?

Let’s dig through the main peculiarities of IoT projects and find out the ways they affect web development. Read further to find out how IoT is reshaping web development and design.

The Place for Web Development in IoT

If you’re wondering why we bother talking about IoT and web development in the first place, give us a chance to explain. The network of connected devices relies on web servers. The data obtained from sensors is stored in the cloud. Advanced messaging protocols are responsible for communication between devices. And it’s the user interface that helps other users interact with connected devices.

On top of that, many IoT devices can display website content. These include UIs on TVs, laptops, wearables, smart appliances, and industrial monitors. Some of them can search the web through browsers. For instance, take Amazon’s Echo with its virtual assistant Alexa. As you can see, web development and design are actually important parts of IoT projects.

IoT Development Differs from Ordinary Web Development

First, IoT networks are usually a lot more complex than a regular web application. They have to deal with vast amounts of data, intense communications, dynamic user interfaces, and security and reliability issues. Let’s have a closer look at the peculiarities of IoT systems.

Collecting High Volumes of Data

Basically, IoT systems work with huge amounts of data. They collect real-time data from sensors, filter and process them, and transmit those data to and from the cloud. Such volumes of data can cause delays in networks. Moreover, losing any bit of data is unacceptable. That’s why compared to ordinary web development, IoT web development focuses more on the system’s scalability and reliability than ordinary web development.

Scalability ensures data collection and distribution don’t depend on the data volume. Reliability means data collection and distribution happen without interruption. This is why IoT developers choose languages and solutions that facilitate scalable applications, such as Java, C, and JavaScript. Moreover, in IoT development, it’s important to transmit loads of data via appropriate advanced protocols for data interchange. Protocols used include XMPP for real-time communication and AMQP for message-oriented data receiving/sending.

The RTInsights’ survey shows that 51 percent of software developers surveyed state the importance of IoT solutions is being reliable and scalable. According to them, this is the main difference between developing IoT applications and conventional application development.

A graph showing the differences between standard and IoT web development.
Image Credit: RT Insights
An @RTInsights survey demonstrated that 51% of #software developers find that the main difference between developing #IoT applications and conventional web #apps is that #IoT dev. requires more reliability and scalability. @ElifTech Click To Tweet

In addition, communications in IoT networks usually consume a lot of energy. That’s why they need to be designed with minimization of power use in mind. Advanced messaging protocols and high-bandwidth interconnects can help make pages load faster.

Dynamic User Interfaces

UIs help users interact with an IoT system. They display valuable insights from collected data and helps manage the entire network. Since an IoT system usually collects massive amounts of different kinds of data, it has to display lots of analytics and infographics. Streamlined user dashboards are a common design solution for this.

The control of an IoT network calls for dynamic user interface solutions. Dynamic UIs suit complex IoT applications perfectly since they allow generating portlets or pages dynamically, which is especially helpful when dealing with multitasking.

Advanced Security

While security has always been an important concern for conventional web development, it is far more crucial in IoT. According to McKinsey, security is the major challenge of IoT growth. It’s clear that smart devices should be secured from outside intervention to keep the network and data safe. Clearly, that’s a job for web development.

The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) has named web interfaces as the number one weakness of an IoT system. Insufficient authentication/authorization comes second in the project’s top 10. The primary vulnerabilities of an IoT system actually lie in the web development and design domain—not the hardware. That’s why IoT web design has to focus on the system’s security. To ensure access security, IoT developers usually create advanced user authentication and user access management. You have to make sure data and communications within the network are secured through encryption.

According to @OWASP, the primary vulnerabilities of an #IoT system actually lie in the #web #development and #design domain—not the #hardware. That’s why IoT web design has to focus on the system’s #security.|| #IoTForAll @ElifTech Click To Tweet

Current Trends in IoT Web Development

Although the future of IoT is multilingual, there are certain languages that are leaders in IoT solution development. According to the IoT developer 2018 survey, Java, C, and JavaScript are the top 3 languages for building IoT solutions. While Java and C are commonly used for programming devices and gateways, JavaScript is the one oriented towards web development. And since JavaScript dominates the web (95% of all websites are built on JavaScript), it’s going to hold a special place in IoT development for a long time. JavaScript frameworks are also popular in IoT. Apart from Node.js, IoT developers use Johnny-five.io, Zetta.js, Cylon.js and Nodered.

TL;DR

IoT applications have their peculiarities, and those uniquenesses are influencing web development for those applications. Because an IoT system is data-enhanced, web developers have to ensure its reliability and scalability. IoT demands dynamic user interface solutions, and don’t forget its weak spot is the web interface. So, make sure to secure it with authentication and encryption.