Web engineering

Web Design & Development Guide

Web engineering


The World Wide Web has become a major delivery platform for a variety of complex and sophisticated enterprise applications in several domains. In addition to their inherent multifaceted functionality, these Web applications exhibit complex behavior and place some unique demands on their usability, performance, security and ability to grow and evolve.

However, a vast majority of these applications continue to be developed in an ad-hoc way, contributing to problems of usability, maintainability, quality and reliability [1-4]. While Web development can benefit from established practices from other related disciplines, it has certain distinguishing characteristics that demand special considerations. In the recent years, there have been some developments towards addressing these problems and requirements. As an emerging discipline, Web engineering actively promotes systematic, disciplined and quantifiable approaches towards successful development of high-quality, ubiquitously usable Web-based systems and applications [1,2].

In particular, Web engineering focuses on the methodologies, techniques and tools that are the foundation of Web application development and which support their design, development, evolution, and evaluation. Web application development has certain characteristics that make it different from traditional software, information system, or computer application development.

Web engineering is multidisciplinary and encompasses contributions from diverse areas: systems analysis and design, software engineering, hypermedia/hypertext engineering, requirements engineering, human-computer interaction, user interface, information engineering, information indexing and retrieval, testing, modelling and simulation, project management, and graphic design and presentation.

Web engineering is neither a clone, nor a subset of software engineering, although both involve programming and software development. While Web Engineering uses software engineering principles, it encompasses new approaches, methodologies, tools, techniques, and guidelines to meet the unique requirements of Web-based applications.

For an introduction to Web engineering, see "Web Engineering: Introduction and Perspectives" by San Murugesan and Athula Ginige, Chapter 1 in "Web Engineering: Principles and Techniques" (Suh, W. ed.), Idea Group Publishing, 2005. http://www.idea-group.com/downloads/excerpts/01%20Suh.pdf

Web engineering as a discipline

Proponents of web engineering supported the establishment of web engineering as a discipline at an early stage of web. First Workshop on Web Engineering was held in conjunction with World Wide Web Conference held in Brisbane, Australia, in 1998. San Murugesan, Yogesh Deshpande, Steve Hansen and Athula Ginige, from University of Western Sydney, Australia formally promoted web engineering a new discipline in the first ICSE workshop on Web Engineering in 1999 [1]. Since then they published a serial of papers in a number of journals, conferences and magazines to promote their view and got wide support. Major arguments for web engineering as a new discipline are:

  • WIS (Web Information System) and WIS development process are different and unique [2, 7].
  • Web engineering is multi-disciplinary; no single discipline (such as software engineering) can provide complete theory basis, body of knowledge and practices to guide WIS development [5].
  • Issues of evolution and lifecycle management when compared to more 'traditional' applications.
  • Web based information systems and applications are pervasive and non-trivial. The prospect of web as a platform will continue to grow and it is worth being treated specifically.

However, it has been controversial, especially for people in other traditional disciplines such as software engineering, to recognize web engineering as a new field. The issue is how different and independent web engineering is, compared with other disciplines.

Main topics of Web engineering include, but are not limited to, the following areas:

Web Process & Project Management Disciplines

  • Development Process and Process Improvement of Web Applications
  • Web Project Management and Risk Management
  • Collaborative Web Development

Web Requirements Modeling Disciplines

  • Business Processes for Applications on the Web
  • Process Modelling of Web applications
  • Requirements Engineering for Web applications

Web System Design Disciplines, Tools & Methods

  • UML and the Web
  • Conceptual Modeling of Web Applications (aka. Web modeling)
  • Prototyping Methods and Tools
  • Web design methods
  • CASE Tools for Web Applications
  • Web Interface Design
  • Data Models for Web Information Systems

Web System Implementation Disciplines

  • Integrated Web Application Development Environments
  • Code Generation for Web Applications
  • Software Factories for/on the Web
  • Web 2.0, AJAX, E4X and Other New Developments
  • Web Services Development and Deployment
  • Empirical Web Engineering

Web System Testing Disciplines

  • Testing and Evaluation of Web systems and Applications
  • Testing Automation, Methods and Tools for Web Applications

Web Applications Categories Disciplines

  • Semantic Web applications
  • Ubiquitous and Mobile Web Applications
  • Mobile Web Application Development
  • Device Independent Web Delivery
  • Localization and Internalization Of Web Applications

Web Quality Attributes Disciplines

  • Web Metrics, Cost Estimation, and Measurement
  • Personalisation and Adaptation of Web applications
  • Web Quality
  • Usability of Web Applications
  • Web accessibility
  • Performance of Web-based applications

Content-related Disciplines

  • Web Content Management
  • Multimedia Authoring Tools and Software

Web Engineering Education


1. San Murugesan, Yogesh Deshpande, Steve Hansen and Athula Ginige, "Web Engineering: A New Discipline for Development of Web_based Systems," Proceedings of the First International Conference of Software Engineering (ICSE) Workshop on Web Engineering, Los Angeles, USA, 1999. Also published in Web Engineering: Managing Diversity and Complexity of Web Application Development, San Murugesan and Yogesh Deshpande (Eds), LNCS 2016, Springer Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg, 2001.

2. Athula Ginige and San Murugesan, "Web Engineering: An Introduction," IEEE Multimedia, Vol. 8, No. 1, January 2001, pp 14-18.

3. Roger S Pressman, "Can Internet Applications be Engineered?" IEEE Software, Vol. 15, No. 5, Sep/Oct 1998, pp 104-110.

4. Roger S Pressman, "What a Tangled Web we Weave," IEEE Software, Jan/Feb 2001, Vol. 18, No.1, pp 18-21.

5. Yogesh Deshpande, and Steve Hansen, "Web Engineering: Creating Discipline among Disciplines," IEEE Multimedia, Vol. 8, No. 1, January 2001, pp 81-86.

6. Robert L Glass, "Who's Right in the Web Development Debate?" Cutter IT Journal, July 2001, Vol. 14, No.7, pp 6-10.

7. Gerti Kappel, Birgit Proll, Seiegfried, and Werner Retschitzegger, "An Introduction to Web Engineering," in Web Engineering, Gerti Kappel, et al (eds.) John Wiley and Sons, Heidelberg, Germany, 2003.

Web Engineering Resources



  • "Web Engineering - The Discipline of Systematic Development of Web Applications", edited by Gerti Kappel, Birgit Pröll, Siegfried Reich, and Werner Retschitzegger, John Wiley & Sons, 2006
  • "Web Engineering", edited by Emilia Mendes and Nile Mosley, Springer-Verlag, 2005
  • "Web Engineering: Principles and Techniques", edited by Woojong Suh, Idea Group Publishing, 2005
  • "Building Web Applications with UML" (2nd edition), by Jim Conallen, Pearson Education, 2003
  • "Information Architecture for the World Wide Web" (2nd edition), by Peter Morville and Louis Rosenfeld, O'Reilly, 2002
  • "Web Site Engineering: Beyond Web Page Design", by Thomas A. Powell, David L. Jones and Dominique C. Cutts, Prentice Hall, 1998


Book Chapters and Articles

  • Murugesan,S and A.Ginige, A. "Web Engineering: Introduction and Perspectives", Chapter 1 in "Web Engineering: Principles and Techniques" (Suh, W. ed.), Idea Group Publishing, 2005. http://www.idea-group.com/downloads/excerpts/01%20Suh.pdf
  • Pressman, R.S., 'Applying Web Engineering', Part 3, Chapters 16-20, in Software Engineering: A Practitioner's Perspective, Sixth Edition, McGraw-Hill, New York, 2004. http://www.rspa.com/


Special issues

  • Web Engineering, IEEE MultiMedia, Jan.–Mar. 2001 (Part 1) and April–June 2001 (Part 2). http://csdl2.computer.org/persagen/DLPublication.jsp?pubtype=m&acronym=mu
  • Usability Engineering, IEEE Software, January-February 2001.
  • Web Engineering, Cutter IT Journal, 14(7), July 2001.*
  • Testing E-business Applications, Cutter IT Journal, September 2001.
  • Engineering Internet Software, IEEE Software, March-April 2002.
  • Usability and the Web, IEEE Internet Computing, March-April 2002.

See also

Web modeling

Mobile Web
Web developer
Web directory
Web engineering
Webby Awards
World Wide Web Consortium

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