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Introduction to Web Application

Updated: Sep 15, 2023

Web applications are software programs that are stored on a remote server and delivered over the internet through a web browser. They are typically accessed using a web browser such as Chrome, Firefox, or Edge.


Web applications can be used for a wide variety of purposes, including:

  • Webmail: Webmail applications allow users to send and receive email messages without having to install a dedicated email client.

  • Online calculators: Online calculators allow users to perform calculations without having to install a dedicated calculator application.

  • E-commerce: E-commerce applications allow users to buy and sell goods and services online.

  • Social media: Social media applications allow users to connect with friends and family, share photos and videos, and stay up-to-date on current events.

  • Educational: Educational applications allow users to learn new skills and knowledge online.

Web applications can be accessed from any device with an internet connection, making them ideal for mobile users. They are also typically easy to use and require no installation.


Some common examples of web applications include:

  • Gmail

  • Google Docs

  • Facebook

  • Twitter

  • Amazon

  • Netflix

  • Spotify

  • GitHub

  • Wikipedia

Web applications can be accessed using any web browser, regardless of the operating system or device. However, some web applications may require specific browsers or plugins to function properly.


How does a Web Application work?

Web applications are software programs that are stored on a remote server and delivered over the internet through a web browser. They are typically accessed using a web browser such as Chrome, Firefox, or Edge.


Web Application

When you use a web application, the following steps occur:

  1. You enter the URL of the web application into your web browser.

  2. Your web browser sends a request to the web server where the web application is hosted.

  3. The web server forwards the request to the appropriate web application server.

  4. The web application server performs the requested task, such as querying a database or processing data.

  5. The web application server generates the results of the requested task and sends them back to the web server.

  6. The web server sends the results back to your web browser.

  7. Your web browser displays the results to you.


Web Application Architecture

Modern web applications are typically designed using a layered architecture. This means that the application is divided into different layers, each of which has a specific responsibility. This makes the application easier to develop, maintain, and scale.

Web Application Architecture

The most common layered architecture for web applications consists of the following layers:

  • Presentation layer: The presentation layer is responsible for displaying the user interface and handling user interactions. It is typically built using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

  • Business layer: The business layer contains the business logic of the application. It is responsible for processing user requests and generating responses.

  • Persistence layer: The persistence layer is responsible for storing and retrieving data. It is typically implemented using a database management system (DBMS).

  • Database layer, also known as the Data Service Layer, holds all the data and ensures data security by separating the business logic from the client-side.

1. Presentation layer

The presentation layer is the layer of a web application that users interact with directly. It is responsible for displaying the user interface and handling user interactions. The presentation layer is typically implemented using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

The presentation layer is responsible for the following tasks:

  • Displaying the user interface

  • Handling user interactions, such as clicking on buttons and submitting forms

  • Validating user input

  • Generating responses to user requests

2. Business layer

The business layer contains the business logic of the application. It is responsible for processing user requests and generating responses. The business layer may also interact with the persistence layer to retrieve or store data.

The business layer is responsible for the following tasks:

  • Defining the business rules of the application

  • Processing user requests

  • Generating responses to user requests

  • Interact with the persistence layer to retrieve or store data

3. Persistence layer

The persistence layer is responsible for storing and retrieving data. It is typically implemented using a database management system (DBMS). The persistence layer may also provide features such as data backup and recovery.

The persistence layer is responsible for the following tasks:

  • Storing and retrieving data from the database

  • Backing up and recovering data

  • Providing an interface for the business layer to interact with the database

4. Database Layer

The database layer is typically used by the persistence layer to store and retrieve data. The persistence layer provides a layer of abstraction between the business layer and the database layer. This makes it easier to change the database schema without affecting the business logic of the application.


The database layer also provides features such as data backup and recovery. This ensures that the data is protected in case of a system failure.


Here are some of the benefits of using a database layer in a web application:

  • Data integrity: The database layer ensures that the data is consistent and accurate.

  • Data security: The database layer protects the data from unauthorized access.

  • Data scalability: The database layer can be scaled to meet the needs of the application.

  • Data availability: The database layer ensures that the data is available to users when they need it.

The database layer is an essential part of any web application. It provides a number of benefits, including data integrity, security, scalability, and availability.


Here are some examples of database layers:

  • MySQL

  • PostgreSQL

  • Oracle Database

  • Microsoft SQL Server


Benefits of layered architecture

A layered architecture offers a number of benefits for web applications, including:

  • Modularity: A layered architecture makes it easier to develop, maintain, and scale web applications. Each layer can be developed and maintained independently, which makes it easier to add new features or fix bugs.

  • Reusability: Code in one layer can often be reused in other layers. This can save time and effort during development.

  • Separation of concerns: A layered architecture separates the different concerns of a web application, such as the user interface, business logic, and data persistence. This makes the application easier to understand and maintain.


Components:

Web applications are made up of the following components:

  1. Web server: The web server is responsible for receiving and responding to requests from clients.

  2. Application server: The application server is responsible for processing requests from clients and generating responses.

  3. Database: The database is used to store data for the web application.

  4. Web pages: Web pages are the user interface for the web application. They are typically written in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.


Models of Web applications

There are several models used to build web applications, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. The most common models are:

  1. One web server, one database: This model is simple and easy to implement, but it is also the least reliable. If the web server or database goes down, the entire application will be unavailable. This model is often used for small, low-traffic websites and test applications.

  2. Multiple web servers, one database: This model is more reliable than the one web server, one database model, as it can continue to operate even if one of the web servers goes down. However, it is still vulnerable to database failure. This model is often used for medium-traffic websites and applications.

  3. Multiple web servers, multiple databases: This model is the most reliable, as it can continue to operate even if one of the web servers or databases goes down. However, it is also the most complex and expensive to implement. This model is often used for high-traffic websites and applications.

Here is a more detailed explanation of each model:


1. One web server, one database

This model is the simplest and most straightforward way to build a web application. The web server handles all requests from clients and interacts with the database to retrieve and store data.


The main advantage of this model is its simplicity. It is easy to set up and configure, and it does not require a lot of hardware resources. However, this model is also the least reliable. If the web server or database goes down, the entire application will be unavailable.


This model is often used for small, low-traffic websites and test applications.


2. Multiple web servers, one database

This model is more reliable than the one web server, one database model, as it can continue to operate even if one of the web servers goes down. However, it is still vulnerable to database failure.


In this model, multiple web servers are used to handle requests from clients. The web servers interact with a single database to retrieve and store data.


The main advantage of this model is its improved reliability. If one of the web servers goes down, the other web servers can continue to handle requests. However, this model is still vulnerable to database failure.


This model is often used for medium-traffic websites and applications.


3. Multiple web servers, multiple databases

This model is the most reliable, as it can continue to operate even if one of the web servers or databases goes down. However, it is also the most complex and expensive to implement.


In this model, multiple web servers and multiple databases are used. The web servers interact with the databases to retrieve and store data.


The main advantage of this model is its high reliability. If one of the web servers or databases goes down, the other web servers and databases can continue to handle requests. However, this model is also the most complex and expensive to implement.


This model is often used for high-traffic websites and applications.


Which model to choose?

The best model to choose for your web application depends on your specific needs and requirements.

  1. If you have a small, low-traffic website, the one web server, one database model may be sufficient.

  2. If you have a medium-traffic website or application, the multiple web servers, one database model may be a better choice.

  3. If you have a high-traffic website or application, the multiple web servers, multiple databases model is the best option.

Consider your budget and resources when choosing a model.

  1. The multiple web servers, multiple databases model is the most expensive to implement, but it is also the most reliable.

  2. The one web server, one database model is the least expensive to implement, but it is also the least reliable.


Types of Web Applications Architecture:

There are four main types of web application architecture:


1. Single Page Application (SPA)

SPAs are web applications that load a single HTML page and dynamically update the content of that page without reloading the entire page. This makes SPAs very fast and responsive, and they are often used for building complex web applications such as social media platforms and e-commerce websites.


Single Page Application - Web Application

Pros:

  • Fast and responsive

  • Good user experience

  • Easy to develop and maintain

Cons:

  • Can be difficult to SEO

  • Can be slow to load on initial page load

  • Can have security vulnerabilities


2. Microservice Architecture

Microservices architecture is a design pattern where an application is composed of many small, independent services that communicate with each other through well-defined APIs. This makes microservices architectures very scalable and resilient, and they are often used for building large and complex web applications such as Netflix and Amazon.

Microservice Architecture - Web Application

Microservices architecture makes deployment of web applications easier than monolithic architecture.


In monolithic architecture, all components of the application are tightly coupled, making it difficult to deploy new features or bug fixes without affecting other components. Microservices architecture solves this problem by decoupling the application into independent services that can be deployed independently.


This makes it easier to develop, test, and deploy new features, and it also makes the application more resilient to failures. If one service fails, the other services can continue to operate.


Some tech giants who are popular for using microservices architecture include Amazon, Netflix, SoundCloud, Comcast, and eBay. These companies use microservices architecture to build scalable and reliable web applications that can handle large amounts of traffic.


Pros:

  • Highly scalable

  • Fault-tolerant

  • Easy to develop and deploy new features

Cons:

  • Can be complex to develop and maintain

  • Can be expensive to run

  • Can have performance issues if not designed properly


Serverless architecture is a cloud computing execution model where the cloud provider manages the server infrastructure and dynamically allocates resources as needed. This allows developers to focus on writing code without having to worry about managing servers, and it can be very cost-effective for applications that experience spikes in traffic.


Serverless Architecture - Web Application

There are two main types of serverless architecture:

  • Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS): BaaS provides developers with a set of pre-built backend services, such as authentication, database management, and file storage. This allows developers to focus on the frontend development of their applications without having to worry about managing the backend infrastructure. AWS Amplify is a popular BaaS product.

  • Function-as-a-Service (FaaS): FaaS is an event-driven model that allows developers to break their applications into small functions. These functions are triggered by events, such as HTTP requests or database changes. FaaS service providers, such as AWS Lambda and Microsoft Azure, handle the execution of these functions and the management of the underlying infrastructure.

BaaS is a good choice for developers who want to focus on the frontend development of their applications and who do not want to worry about managing the backend infrastructure.


FaaS is a good choice for developers who want to break their applications into small functions and who want to take advantage of event-driven processing.


Pros:

  • Highly scalable

  • Cost-effective

  • Easy to develop and deploy

Cons:

  • Lack of control over the underlying infrastructure

  • Can be difficult to debug

  • Can be expensive for applications with high traffic

4. Progressive Web Applications

PWAs are web applications that are designed to be fast, reliable, and engaging. They can be installed on users' devices and can be used offline. PWAs are often used for building websites and apps that need to be fast and reliable, such as news websites and e-commerce apps.


Progressive Web Application - Web Application

Here are some of the key features of PWAs:

  • Fast and reliable: PWAs are fast because they are delivered over the web and do not require users to download and install them. They are also reliable because they can work offline and are not affected by network connectivity issues.

  • Engaging user experience: PWAs can provide a more engaging user experience than traditional web applications because they can be installed on users' devices and can be used offline. This allows users to access the app even when they do not have an internet connection.

  • Compatible with any browser and device: PWAs are compatible with any browser and can run on any device, including smartphones, tablets, and desktops. This makes them a good choice for businesses that want to reach a wider audience.

  • Easy to discover and share: PWAs can be easily discovered and shared through URL links, just like traditional web applications. This makes them easy for users to find and share with others.

  • Effortless installation and home screen pinning: PWAs can be installed on users' devices with a single click. Once installed, PWAs can be pinned to the home screen, making them easy to access.

  • Offline functionality: PWAs can work offline, which means that users can access the app even when they do not have an internet connection. This is a valuable feature for users who have unreliable internet connectivity or who want to use the app in areas with no internet access.

PWAs are a good choice for businesses that want to build web applications that are fast, reliable, and engaging. PWAs can also be a good choice for businesses that want to reach a wider audience and that want to provide their users with an offline experience.


Pros:

  • Fast and reliable

  • Engaging user experience

  • Can be installed on users' devices

  • Can be used offline

Cons:

  • Can be complex to develop

  • May not be compatible with all browsers and devices

  • May require additional development for offline support


Benefits of Web Apps:

  • Accessibility: Web apps can be accessed from any device with an internet connection, making them ideal for remote work and collaboration.

  • Scalability: Web apps can be easily scaled up or down to meet changing demand.

  • Updates: Web apps are automatically updated to the latest version, ensuring that users always have access to the most recent features and security fixes.

  • Cost: Web apps are typically less expensive to develop and maintain than traditional desktop apps.

Disadvantages of Web Apps:

  • Performance: Web apps can be slower than desktop apps, especially if the internet connection is slow or the app is complex.

  • Security: Web apps are more vulnerable to security attacks than desktop apps.

  • Compatibility: Web apps may not be compatible with all browsers and devices.

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