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Design Evolves Faster than Data

Far too often, data takes the form of design. How many times do website projects start by cataloging the "pages" needed? For small website projects, this approach might be reasonable, but building your data model around the concept of web pages starts to make less sense when you begin envisioning how your data might also be used in an app running on a mobile phone, tablet, or wearable device.

Methods and mediums for publishing and displaying your information will emerge that we have not even contemplated yet. Tightly coupling the structure of your data with how it’s presented in a single medium is almost always a regrettable decision.

Data itself can change rapidly. In fact, data can change every nanosecond. However, the underlying format and structure of the data does not change very rapidly. Think about image files. For most applications JPEG, PNG, or even sometimes GIF image files are still the way most applications consume image files. Text files using ASCII are still a valid format for raw data. Data formats don't change very rapidly, even if the data itself changes very quickly.

Consider how quickly the presentation and design possibilities for data have evolved over the last ten years.

• CSS has rapidly evolved to facilitate responsive design patterns and can even facilitate basic animations.

• Web fonts are now commonplace.

• Improvements to JavaScript and the emergence of powerful JavaScript frameworks such as React, Vue, Angular now enable serious and powerful applications.

• Desktop computers are now a minority conveyance medium for digital information. Mobile phones, tablets, digital display boards, and other things should all be consideration targets for your data.

• Increased internet speeds, CPU performance, memory capacity, expansion of broadband and device memory, has opened up many new increased possibilities for video, graphics large images, and interactivity in applications.

• Web GL has brought is bringing advanced graphical and 3D rendering to web browsers.

• Smartphone applications have moved computing from the desktop to virtually everywhere. As a result, digital mapping and geospatial functionality is rapidly becoming a requirement.

I can't predict precisely what possibilities will emerge for the design and presentation of data, but I can say with some certainty that those possibilities will evolve and innovate much faster than the fundamental formats of the data itself.