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Fundamentals of Web Application Architecture

By Contributing Author

Web applications are rapidly taking over the development world. This type of software is incredibly flexible, versatile, and easy to install in a corporate setting. As opposed to typical applications tied to particular devices, users can access web apps from anywhere, provided they have a compatible browser. Considering the growing interest in the Internet of Things, the migration to the cloud is likely to continue; and 2020 is a good time to get familiar with this technology.

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How Does a Web Application Differ from Standard Apps?

The architecture of a web application consists of two primary elements: the server and the client. The main functioning, computing, and information storage occur on the web server that hosts the app. The client—typically, a web browser—only receives the results of these operations. This server-client architecture makes it possible to build fast and scalable apps that demonstrate high performance and significant flexibility, both for users and developers.

When a person interacts with a web application, a specific request is sent to the server. When the request is processed, the results are delivered and displayed via a browser through the Internet. This model eliminates the need to account for each user’s operating system, making web applications cross-platform by default.

Web application architecture represents the particular model that each app uses. It differs by the technologies used and layers included, but the majority of the vital components follow the same blueprint. In this article, we’ll take a brief look at the general architecture of a web application, the types, and vital components of this kind of software.  

The Types of a Web Application Architecture

Single-Page Applications (SPA)

Think about the apps that have a sidebar fixed in place, remaining unchanged and allowing you to view different information within the same page. Single-page applications rely on this principle. The main idea behind this type of web apps is to only update the necessary pieces of content. It’s incredibly convenient for developers and handy for users since it removes the need to reload all components on the page, improving the app’s performance and making it easier to code.

Serverless Architectures

In this type of apps, developers rely on a third-party to configure and administer the servers necessary to run the application. Serverless architectures provide the necessary infrastructure, enabling developers to focus on the app’s functionality instead of worrying about managing the back-end.

Microservices

Microservice architecture takes the service-oriented approach. In this model, an application comes in the form of a collection of services that interact over the network. These services are incredibly lightweight, which allows developers to release applications faster. These components can also be written in different programming languages, granting even more efficiency and flexibility.

The Components of a Web Application Architecture

User Interface Components

UI components don’t directly relate to the application’s functioning. Instead of contributing to the development process, these elements constitute the core of user experience by bringing customers beautiful and comfortable interfaces. User interface components are usually responsible for the appearance of dashboards, notifications, logs, configuration settings, menus, and other elements that enable users to interact with the app.

Structural Components

Unlike UI components, structural components define the functioning of a web application. This category includes the browser, the web application server, and the database server.

The browser is required for users to interact with the application. It is usually written with JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. The browser is necessary both for sending user queries and displaying the results of the processing. When the web server generates a response, the browser receives it as an HTML page that it subsequently adapts for the user to view, according to the defined UI structure.

The application server is most frequently developed with PHP, Java, .NET, Node.js, Python, or Ruby. It supports the application’s logic and makes it possible to create multi-layer apps. When a user interacts with the app, requests are sent to the server for processing. The results are then transmitted back through the browser.

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The database server holds the relevant data and enables users and processes to retrieve, store, and manipulate information to ensure the correct functioning of the app.

How Web Application Architecture Enhances Development

Web applications utilize the server-client architecture that makes them easier to install, maintain, and use. These apps can run on any device with a compatible browser and result in lower development costs and time.

Web technology also makes storing data more efficient and secure. The architecture of a web app eliminates the need to pull data for processing from different locations or synchronize it across systems. When using a web app, a person can access and modify the necessary information regardless of the device they’re using, improving the integrity and organization of their files.

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