This article describes the flexibility and the potentials of the most important finish for aluminium-based materials. After a suggestion for the classification of anodizing processes, the historical development of the electrolytic anodic oxidation (EAO) and the plasma-electrolytic anodic oxidation (PAO) are presented. In the following section the focus is given on selected topics concerning the process parameters, the microstructure including the layer composition and properties. The variability of the anodizing process parameters and the used materials provide this variety of application. Furthermore, both differences and similarities of the EAO and PAO processes are shown. The conclusion of this review emphasizes that there is still some need for further research especially in the interaction of the process, the formed microstructure and the resulted properties determining the final application. Hence new possibilities for this surface treatment will be open.