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Web application

 

An application in which all or some parts of the software are downloaded from the Web each time it is run. It may refer to apps that run within the user’s Web browser, to “rich client” desktop apps that do not use a browser or to mobile apps that access the Web for additional information. Following are explanations of each type.

Browser Based

In a browser-based Web application, JavaScript instructions are contained within the Web page that is retrieved from a website. Combined with the HTML code that determines the visual layout and the CSS style sheet, the HTML, JavaScript and CSS are executed via the browser. In addition, processing at the server side is often widely performed to access databases and other networks. The data for a Web application may be stored locally or on the Web, or in both locations.

Client Based

Web applications may also run without the browser. A client program, which is either installed in the user’s computer or mobile device or is downloaded each session, interacts with a server on the Web using standard Web protocols. This is similar to the “client/server” architecture that prevailed in companies before the Internet exploded, except that today the server is often on the Internet rather than the local network. Just like browser-based applications, the data may be stored remotely or locally. See rich client, cloud computing, ASP and SaaS.

Mobile Web App

Countless mobile apps use the Web for additional information. For example, the iOS and Android versions of this encyclopedia install all the text locally in the device but retrieve all the images from a server via Web (HTTP) protocols. See native mobile app and native application.

OVERVIEW
Millions of businesses use the Internet as a cost-effective communications channel. It lets them exchange information with their target market and make fast, secure transactions. However, effective engagement is only possible when the business is able to capture and store all the necessary data, and have a means of processing this information and presenting the results to the user.

Web applications use a combination of server-side scripts (PHP and ASP) to handle the storage and retrieval of the information, and client-side scripts (JavaScript and HTML) to present information to users. This allows users to interact with the company using online forms, content management systems, shopping carts and more. In addition, the applications allow employees to create documents, share information, collaborate on projects, and work on common documents regardless of location or device.

HOW A WEB APPLICATION WORKS

Web applications are usually coded in browser-supported language such as JavaScript and HTML as these languages rely on the browser to render the program executable. Some of the applications are dynamic, requiring server-side processing. Others are completely static with no processing required at the server.

The web application requires a web server to manage requests from the client, an application server to perform the tasks requested, and, sometimes, a database to store the information. Application server technology ranges from ASP.NET, ASP and ColdFusion, to PHP and JSP.

Here’s what a typical web application flow looks like:

User triggers a request to the web server over the Internet, either through a web browser or the application’s user interface
Web server forwards this request to the appropriate web application server
Web application server performs the requested task – such as querying the database or processing the data – then generates the results of the requested data
Web application server sends results to the web server with the requested information or processed data
Web server responds back to the client with the requested information that then appears on the user’s display.

EXAMPLE OF A WEB APPLICATION

Web applications include online forms, shopping carts, word processors, spreadsheets, video and photo editing, file conversion, file scanning, and email programs such as Gmail, Yahoo and AOL. Popular applications include Google Apps and Microsoft 365.

Google Apps for Work has Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, online storage and more. Other functionalities include online sharing of documents and calendars. This lets all team members access the same version of a document simultaneously.

BENEFITS OF A WEB APPLICATION

Web applications run on multiple platforms regardless of OS or device as long as the browser is compatible
All users access the same version, eliminating any compatibility issues
They are not installed on the hard drive, thus eliminating space limitations
They reduce software piracy in subscription-based web applications (i.e. SaaS)
They reduce costs for both the business and end user as there is less support and maintenance required by the business and lower requirements for the end user’s computer.

CONCLUSION

Increased Internet usage among companies and individuals has influenced the way businesses are run. This has led to the widespread adoption of web applications as companies shift from traditional models to cloud-based and grid models. Web applications give businesses the ability to streamline their operations, increase efficiency, and reduce costs.

These online apps such as email clients, word processors, spreadsheets, and other programs provide the same functionality as the desktop versions. However, they have an added advantage of working across multiple platforms, having a broader reach, and being easily accessible from anywhere.