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What is a web application

Bg image What is a web application

What is a web application

A web application is a software program that can run on the internet browser where it allows integration and exchange of data from the client computer to the server. Such applications use the resources of the server and client to run. It does not require the complete application to be loaded on the client machine and the apps can run using less RAM.

Most browser games run as a client that does not require local installation as it is running on a remote server and the security of the remote server can be maintained by the service provider.

The solution can be designed in the manner for a wide range of uses like everyday calculations, webmail, eCommerce shops, etc. The system is accessed through a browser and the services may be available, irrespective of the type of browser used to view it.

How does a web application work?

It is written in code that has a browser-supported language like HTML and JavaScript. The application can be dynamic and may require server-side processing. There can be some pages that are completely static and do not need processing at the server.

Such a software system manages requests from the clients to perform certain tasks and handle the database. The system involves a range of technologies ASP.NET, ASP, PHP, etc.

Types of web applications

The apps can be classified into different categories depending on the type of programming language, the architecture and the connectivity to the database. The components of the system and the business logic needed for the distribution, the way it looks and the purpose served by the system can be used to differentiate it.

The B2C and the B2B business portals are based on the strategy of unifying the offline business on one platform and allowing the users to view and compare the offers made by different providers.

  • It is the key program behind the internet portals and eCommerce websites that involve online payment and multiple transactions of funds.                                               

  • The data stores of such a system can hold massive data of multiple projects and efficiently deliver the reports as required on time.

  • Such systems have been adopted by the stock markets and the financial organizations where it can display currency exchange rates, develop surveys and determine the amount of loan repayment.

What are some examples of web applications?

E-Commerce portals

Amazon is one such site that allows the user to type the URL on the address space and hit Enter to view a range of functionalities. Amazon processes the request sent by the user to the database to find out if the requested item or query can be found in the data store or not.

The processed information is then sent to the user in the common language, depicted in the form of UX and UI components.

Such platforms work as a single outlet that can offer multiple features.

The portals provide innovative features like AI-based services, multidimensional structures, and videos based data on the published content, personal profile, access to email and the financial transaction.

At one moment, the features work in self-service and at the same time, it provides automated functionalities allowing the users to complete the tasks on their own.

Enterprise solution

Enterprise solutions can cater to the need of an organization where it can address the challenges of the user groups belonging to a different department of the company or the project teams. There can be various other features integrated into such systems which can help in coordinating the staff deliveries and help the employee to become more productive.

There can be portals of a company that helps the employee to keep the service record and access it to know about the details even after retirement.

  • It helps companies to track performance record of individual workers and monitor the financial process.

  • It provides tools to conduct multi-tasking and handle multiple instructions from remote locations.

  • It was widely adopted in the transportation system where it helps in managing the passengers and their details.

  • It improves workflow in any organization and helps to deliver production accurately and on time.

  • Similarly, hospital-based patient portals can be sites that provide complete data related to one person - the health record and scheduled appointments.

Benefits of a web application

It allows users to interact with the remote machine through their browsers and its popularity has been increasing as it has been replacing the desktop apps. The key feature is that it provides several advantages like portability and usability that have been adopted by enterprises having multiple units in different geographical locations.

  • All the systems that allow to book accommodation, services online, tickets and make online payment are based on such systems.

  • Such a system works on the cross-platform mechanism and is universally accessible. It offers scalable and low-cost development where the data sets can be manipulated on various machines where the operating systems may be different as it is stored on the cloud and is supported by a powerful server that can manage the information and distribute it to the users.

  • It offers secure, cost-effective, fast and easy to maintain/update solutions, which does not require reinstallation every time.

  • It provides the software to run in multiple user environments.

  • The users can access the system from any part of the world on their browser using the internet service and connectivity to the server.

  • The apps can be accessed on multi-sized screen devices like laptops, desktop or mobiles.

  • It also provides support for multiple browsers.

What is Web Application Security?

Web applications are accessed by users from across the world and security protection against several threats works on the vulnerabilities of systems that target weaker systems like SaaS and CMS.

  • The source code can increase the vulnerability and it can lead to malicious manipulation. The source code contains certain sensitive sections that can be accessed by bugs and it can provide a platform for manipulation.  In such systems attacking is easy to execute and such attacks can, sometimes, be launched automatically through multiple targets.

  • Data breaches – A data breach refers to the security hack where confidential information is accessed online with malicious intent.

  • Memory corruption- The app can, sometimes, behave in an abrupt manner where the memory corrupts as a bad actor is injected by the online hackers into the system that exploits the memory of the system.

  • Cross-site scripting involves the method of writing code for a web page that is injected into the client’s system and then the attacker can access relevant information from the system of the user and trick them to divulge such information.

  • Sometimes, people (like scammers) can contact as representatives of a famous website or an eCommerce site, and they can gain access to personal or financial information from the users for malicious purposes.

  • Sometimes, the hacker uses methods like SQL injection that is integrated into the server holding the database, where they interfere with queries of the application and it allows the attacker to view the data – that was difficult to retrieve. The SQL queries can provide hackers all the crucial information related to the app.

What is the difference between Website and Web Application?

Websites can be static or dynamic, and it may or may not require interaction with the user but a web application usually has a kind of interaction with the user. It can have information like news or recipes.

Possibly the visitors may be provided with options to submit their details to receive the monthly newsletters or to conduct a search. It is not as vulnerable to hacking as the web application as it may not involve a query into the secure database.

If you type the address of a website or search for some information, the app may require the user to submit certain details. It can be interactive with the Content Management System. Applications can provide certain information by running queries on the database by the user, like it may involve transactions through a credit card where payment is made online.

One may not be able to access an app without a login and password and additional requirements like PCI compliance is needed to ensure the data filled moves securely from the user to the server and back.  The URL may not show the page until you fill in the required details.

Why you need a Web Application?

Business automation – It can provide industry-specific solutions where the software can be used to provide interoperable data management system where the employee in one department can immediately send a request to another and get the response on the machine, while, the information can be useful in determining the components of the next production or quality checking cycle.

Such shops are growingly becoming the mainstream place for buying things. People search for solutions online for transportation, entertainment, lodging, food, and other everyday need.

These solutions are supported by smart car payment methods and details of service and after-sale customer care options. This can be used to improve customer loyalty where the company can gather data and introduce features like registration and personal profile.

The content manager of a web app may require zero knowledge to freely update product catalogs, manage customer database and launch special offers.

Some apps are microsites where there are multiple pages attached to the site and one can promote an event online by giving a general overview and leaving the necessary contact information.

Web portals are gateways having a variety of features that can be collected in one place for a particular audience.

Automated solutions help in interlinking in-house systems and providing remote control.

When one wants to develop a website they may have to hire an agency to design and host the site but the development of a web application requires a developer.

The framework offers a way to build web-enabled apps. It may involve simple blogs or complex AJAX rich apps. 

What is the web application framework?

The browser sends the request to the IP and the web server processes the request. The address of the page is located on the server and one can send a request to the DNS – a repository of domain names and their IP addresses.

There can be many layers in the web application architecture.

  • The browser

  • The server containing the presentation layer and

  • The business/application/ database layer.

The storage layer is connected to data sources, third party software systems, and other services. An example of such a layer can be found in the eCommerce websites that may show the items on the site as per the request of the user.

The images and features on the user interface come from the presentation layer, the application layer, and the storage. The business layers may work on rules, which are extracted and managed separately.

There exists a persistence layer which is a centralized location that recovers the data calls and it provides access to the persistent storage of the application.

It is closely connected to the business layer and the data storage infrastructure includes the DBMS and the server – that helps to communicate with the database itself, user interface and applications to obtain data and get it.

How Have Web Applications Evolved?

The evolution of web-based systems started in the 1990s when Netscape presented client-side scripting that enabled the programmers to improve the user interface. The embedded script offered features that were unique and it enabled the programmers to work on texts, dates and other regular expressions.

Such systems did not possess input/ output to make the machine communicate with the external world. In 1996, Macromedia Flash was introduced which offered a brighter and interactive platform to the user that enabled the programmers to develop animation.

In 1999, Java and ASP were introduced in 2005, the technologies were used to run programs on the internet using the user- id and password system and the backend was based on SQL or Oracle.

PHP and Ajax were later introduced that enabled programmers to compose software that could run on the internet and run on multiple platforms and devices. HTML5 presented content into www which could be arranged into logical structures, now more than 30 percent sites are made into HTML5.

What Is The Difference Between A Mobile App And A Web App?

The mobile app can be installed via the app stores and one can easily access the resources of the store through GPS and the camera functions. The mobile app runs on the device apps where it may be difficult to get such solutions approved by the app store.

Also, it can be expensive to update.  Some examples of mobile app solutions are - Google Maps, Messenger and Facebook. 

The apps running on laptops run on the browsers of the user laptop or desktop. It cannot be installed or downloaded to the machine and they are located elsewhere on some servers. The user should have an active internet connection to run such systems on remote servers and mobiles app can work offline.

Mobiles offer a faster and more efficient way to access the features of remote apps. It requires regular downloads and updates, whereas, a desktop-based system can update on its own.

The mobiles use software that is platform-specific, which means, it cannot be installed on multiple OS/ desktops but the usability and functionalities offered are better. The app for android is mostly written in Java and Apple can provide the developmental tools, SDK or interface elements to built native mobile apps. Unlike mobile, there is no standard SDK for such devices.

How are web apps built?

  • The standard web app designed for mobile or the PWAs is programmed to work offline and load fast. The Application Cache feature helps to store large volumes of data offline and PWA (progressive web app) can be used without internet connectivity. It gives the native mobile app functionalities like audio capture, push notification and native video. PWA offers a responsive safe, discoverable, installable and linkable web experience.

  • There are many programming languages that can be used to develop web apps like a single page(SPA) and multiple page applications(MPA). The MPAs employ the traditional methods where languages like .NET, PHP and Java can help to develop an application that runs on the server and communicate directly with the database.

  • A single-page app (SPA) is a cross-browser solution where the pages are downloaded to the client‘s machine and then it does not require to be loaded again. It requires a back end server to handle the content from the APIs. It can help to provide a fast and smooth experience. It is based on web browsers that allow unbroken transition as the user moves across the web application.  

Some examples of such sites are Facebook and Twitter. Such sites involve complex interactivity involving Microsoft Office, Azure G Suite, etc. It is not suitable for a site that needs SEO.

The template of multiple page app (MPA) is easy to develop where the functions are smaller and simpler but the SPA can be very complex to build. Some websites are created on hybrids using both the frameworks.

Examples of MPA frameworks are Java Spring, Python Django, ASP.NET MVC/Razor, and PHP Laravel. These can be developed in JavaScript and multiple large sites can be developed with backend - PHP, Java, .NET or Python.

How web application monitoring can help?

  • It helps to ensure the performance factors like load time and the entire stack are working correctly. Like if a person orders a product from the site, it should not slow down or show errors.

  • Similarly, the site should be able to handle the load – where it should not crash when the number of users is more. The transactions should be completed without any error.

  • The monitoring tools should be able to check the database and respond on time to the user for the orders made.

  • The security system should ensure data of the user is protected.

  • If the app slows down, it shows problems in the programming.

Which is true about web-based application software?

It involves a combination of server-side technologies and codes like ASP, PHP or Java and client-side scripts like HTML, JavaScript, etc. The server-side scripting may involve activities like retrieving and storing information in the database.

In the case of a web application, the operation requires the application server, the browser, and the database. The server manages the requests which come from the user browser, while, the server completes the requested task by running queries in the database and it can store data in the database to provide the needed information.

Client or Front end

The front end may be written in HTML5 or JavaScript and CSS. The client-side code can assist to display the website to the user like on the laptop screen or the mobile screens.

Server or Backend

The server side requires a programming language that may be connected to the database and other systems. Some of the most commonly used server-side languages are Java and Python.

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