Back to the Basics #10: Web Applications

Web applications, as the name plainly states, are applications that run on the web rather than on a person’s personal computer or laptop. This makes them extremely versatile, since any device capable of connecting to the web can use them. The methods for developing and deploying web apps vary, but the end result is essentially the same. The user gets a fully functional application within his or her web browser.

Most modern web applications use a combination of server-side scripting (such as PHP, Perl, or Ruby) with some client-side scripting (such as Javascript). For data storage, they may use some form of database, such as MySQL, PosgreSQL, or SQLite. The server-side scripts are accessed by the user’s web browser and then call on the databases to deliver the relevant information. Finally, the web server (such as Apache) displays the information in HTML or a combination of HTML and Javascript, which can be used to make effects that simulate desktop applications.

There are three primary ways that you can use web apps on your website:

  1. Develop and deploy your own web applications. This requires knowledge of how they work and programming skills.
  2. Purchase a web app or download a free one. There are hundreds of thousands of free web applications, such as content management systems and image galleries.
  3. Use a cloud-based web application. Some cloud hosting providers will provide the tools necessary to integrate their cloud apps into your website, without hosting them on your server.