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.
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.
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.
HOW A WEB APPLICATION WORKS
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.
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.