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What are Web Apps?

2/5/2020 | By Maker.io Staff

Imagine not having to learn three different machine platforms to make a program cross-platform. Imagine an environment where the operating system does not even come into consideration. Imagine if your app could be accessed by any device that has HTTP capabilities. Introducing… web apps!

What are Web Apps?

Web applications (web apps) are client-server programs where the majority of the app runs on a server when a client requests to access the app, and the client provides both user input and output. For example, a website that is based on personal home page (PHP) is an example of a web app, where visitors to the site request access to a PHP page and the server executes that page and returns the result. Another example would be a simple calculator made using JavaScript embedded into a page, where the browser itself executes the application and the user can interact with it. While web apps have been around for a long time, they are recently becoming more popular thanks to cloud computing, where applications that require complex frameworks, such as the .NET framework, can now be executed by servers. So, why should you consider web apps and what can they do for you?

Cross-Platform Environment

One of the biggest advantages of web apps (especially those that are written in web languages such as PHP and JavaScript) is that, by their very nature, they are cross-platform. This means that web apps will work on almost every and any browser with little or no change to your code at all! In the web browser industry, it is in the best interest of the web browser developers to ensure that their browsers can display all websites, properly display cascading style sheets (CSS), and execute JavaScript; otherwise, their browser would quickly become unpopular.

Mobile Apps

Websites that are properly coded will display correctly on both mainstream PCs and mobile devices alike. However, the designer has to be concerned with features such as CSS, as this would describe how big to make the text and where to position elements. Beyond that, web apps work on mobile platforms just as well as they do on mainstream PCs, and suddenly this means that mobile apps can be made very easily. Instead of needing to make an Android app in Java or an iOS app for Apple devices, a webpage can be turned into a fully featured web app that can be made to interact with Internet of Things (IoT) devices with the use of PHP and other server-side languages.

IoT and Data Management

While web apps can be used for email systems, login pages, and other interactive content, they can be exploited when creating IoT applications. Two PHP pages and a few hundred lines of code can see a very functional IoT platform arise that allows device interaction through mobile devices, enables IoT devices to submit and retrieve data, and even makes an artificial intelligence (AI) backend analyze data! Server-side scripting languages such as PHP can readily work with Structured Query Language (SQL) databases, which allow for large data sets to be stored with ease and enable hundreds of devices to cross-communicate with ease.

Web apps offer programmers and designers a lot of power and freedom, with websites being the most basic of web apps. Now that cloud computing is becoming increasingly popular, web apps can be written in languages such as .NET and the capabilities of web apps will continue to increase. Of course, even languages such as PHP offer designers massive potential, and if you put a bit of hard work into learning how to run a homemade web server, you will be amazed by what you can make websites do for you!