The Internet is inherently static, and most websites merely display data. Web applications unlock the full potential of the internet and allow users to perform tasks similar to desktop applications on the web. Web applications work by executing code on the host server, usually after a user has interacted with a web page. Web applications have different extensions. Depending on the technology used, the file extension could be asp, aspx, php, or cfm.
There are several types of web applications and they can range from simple forms processors to intricate inventory management and e-commerce programs. There are many advantages to having applications reside on the web, the most obvious and useful feature is that it’s accessible anywhere an internet connection exists. Also, unlike traditional desktop applications, web applications do not require installations, but only a browser to use them.
Web applications, like all technologies of course, have some disadvantages. Most complaints seem to be focused on speed and security. Unlike desktops or network programs, data in online programs travel through the web at much slower speeds. And because the web is open to various connections, it is more open to security attacks. And while small web applications are actually easier to develop than similar desktop programs, the more complex the application becomes, the harder the development process becomes on account of the Internet’s inherent limitations. For instance, passing variables in a web application is a bit more difficult because web pages are disconnected from each other, unlike desktop applications where variables can be stored on the computer’s RAM. To move variables from one page to the next, web applications normally append the data to the URL.
Still, with web technologies continually evolving to address the web’s limitations, online applications are sure to grow in popularity and businesses will start migrating more of their operations to the web.