The Platform-rating Conundrum

By James Ater on May 27, 2014 - Industry Insights

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Top by platform

Ever wondered what web-site platforms are most important?
Moonsearch has built its own platform popularity ranking to answer this question.

Today’s Internet doesn’t have a strict “platform“ definition, so many different solutions get into this category: programming languages, frameworks, and Content Management Systems (CMS) to name the few.

The Moonsearch “Top by Platform” ranking is calculated based on server response header data.
While parsing (analyzing) a website, Moonsearch first goes through the server header information.
As defined by W3.org rules, the header can contain lots of technical information on the site’s software core,
which we have included in the “Top by Platform” ranking.

This is, however, the point where the main problem arises.
Technically, what Moonsearch does is gathering and analyzing data from the headers’
“server” and “x-” values, especially the “X-Powered-By” value. Since header data isn’t compulsory, many pages do not provide it.
Practically, this means that header data we get is often incomplete, sometimes even fake. However, it is still valuable, since it gives us a general picture of what top languages, frameworks, and CMS solutions are popular out there in the Web.

The main question arising when you start studying our Platform ranking is: if the site falls under two categories — eg. a blog running on the WordPress CMS, which uses PHP-coding — will it be counted under both?
Moonsearch head developer answers, “yes and no. It depends on the header. “Top by Platform” statistics don’t pretend to be objective. The numbers are pretty generalized. They give us a snapshot of the Internet, describing main tendencies. However, to get truly reliable data you would need to run a detailed search, with strictly defined parameters”. WordPress and some other popular platforms, by the way, tend to avoid showing their identification data in the header for security reasons.

Going further, we will shed a little light on what some of most often found solutions under “platforms’ are.

  • CMSs or Content Management Systems are in fact the platforms that run many sites in the main sense of this term. Wordpress, Joomla, and Drupal are most notorious names. For example, WordPress is the most popular platform for blogging. These systems can be easily installed, configured, and managed (at least at the basic level) with no special knowledge of PHP or even HTML languages.
  • PHP is the server-side language designed especially for web-programming. It is used by most websites in the Internet.
  • Java, as of 2014, is still one of the most popular programming languages in use, particularly for client-server web applications. To name just a couple big companies using Java, first brands that come in mind are Google and Facebook.
  • Ruby is a dynamic, open source programming language focusing on simplicity and productivity. Twitter, Scribd, Hulu – they all run on either Ruby or Ruby on Rails.
  • Python is technically the language used as a scripting language for web applications. A good example of Python work is Dropbox.
  • Microsoft .NET technology has been proposed mainly to support business and its complex transactions. MSN, Orkut, HP, and Wal-Mart – they all run .NET.
  • Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is also a very interesting platform. It’s not for building “regular websites”, is a core part of Amazon.com’s cloud computing platform, which allows users to rent virtual computers on which they run their own computer applications. These “pages” are also very far from classic concept of a web-site, but these services still have browser-accessible domain names and look like common sites.
  • Plesk is another name rarely found under “web-site platforms” category. Technically, it should be classified as web-hosting control panel, for it’s not exactly a “platform”. There are thousands of sites reporting its use in their headers, thought, and if you are looking for any data about a mysterious competitor the information on site’s control panel can become a valuable clue in some situations.

About James Ater

An experienced developer, James is the one who stood behind Moonsearch.com at the dawn of the project. He knows the algorithms Moonsearch is using from the inside, and it's a pleasure for him to talk about the processes the project is based on. Inspired by technology he is glad to give you a full understanding of what the practical purpose of Moonsearch is and how it can be used to evaluate your competitors, define your brand's position on the market and identify the gaps for the development. Why to create technology if not to benefit from it? James knows how to do both and is happy to share his vision.

By James Ater on May 27, 2014 - Industry Insights

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