A web application or “web app” is a software program that runs on a web server. Unlike traditional desktop applications, which are launched by your operating system, web apps must be accessed through a web browser. Web apps have several advantages over desktop applications. Since they run inside web browsers, developers do not need to develop web apps for multiple platforms. For example, a single application that runs in Chrome will work on both Windows and OS X. Developers do not need to distribute software updates to users when the web app is updated. By updating the application on the server, all users have access to the updated version.
Cost Effective Development
With web-based applications, users access the system via a uniform environment—the web browser. While the user interaction with the application needs to be thoroughly tested on different web browsers, the application itself needs only be developed for a single operating system. There’s no need to develop and test it on all possible operating system versions and configurations.
Using internet technologies based on industry-wide standards, it’s possible to achieve a far greater level of interoperability between applications than with isolated desktop systems. For example, it is much easier to integrate a web-based shopping cart system with a web-based accounting package than it is to get two proprietary systems to talk to each other. Web-based architecture makes it possible to rapidly integrate enterprise systems, improving work-flow and other business processes.
Unlike traditional applications, web systems are accessible anytime, anywhere, via a PC with an Internet connection, putting the user in charge of where and when they access the application.
Easier Installation And Maintenance
Installation and maintenance becomes less complicated. Once a new version or upgrade is installed on the host server, all users can access it straight away. There is no need to upgrade each client PC. Rolling out new software can be accomplished more easily, requiring only that users have up-to-date browsers and plugins. And as the upgrades are only performed by an experienced professional to a single server, the results are more predictable and reliable.
The user interface of web-based applications is easier to customise than it is in desktop applications. This makes it easier to update the look and feel of the application, or to customise the presentation of information to different user groups.
Accessible For A Range Of Devices
In addition to customising content for user groups, content can also be customised for presentation on any device connected to the internet, including PDAs, mobile phones, etc., further extending the user’s ability to receive and interact with information.
Web-based applications are typically deployed on dedicated servers, which are monitored and maintained by experienced server administrators. This is far more effective than monitoring hundreds or even thousands of client computers, as is the case with new desktop applications.
Flexible Core Technologies
Any of three core technologies can be used for building web-based applications, depending on the requirements of the application. The Java-based solutions (J2EE) from Sun Microsystems involve technologies such as JSP and Servlets. The newer Microsoft .NET platform uses Active Server Pages, SQL Server and .NET scripting languages. The third option is the Open Source platform (predominantly PHP and MySQL), which is best suited to smaller websites and lower budget applications.
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