Web application

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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

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

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