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This chapter is from the book

Defining Web Applications

Applications are software programs that are used on a local computer to do various tasks. The most commonly used applications are web browsers (such as Internet Explorer or Firefox), document editors (such as Word), and email clients (such as Outlook or Thunderbird). These programs are very similar to one another because they all run on the same operating system. They have features such as

  • A similar look and feel, such as the menus at the top
  • Functionality such as drag-and-drop, saving to the hard drive, and interactivity

Web applications are web pages that are attempting to look and act like desktop applications. They are written to run inside a web browser, rather than directly on the computer. This means that they are limited by the functions that the web browser can and cannot do:

  • Web applications rely on the web browser for functionality that would otherwise have to be coded (such as the back button, rendering the page, and so on).
  • Web applications are limited the same way a browser is limited. They can’t save data to the hard drive, they have only limited scripting functions, and they can’t interact directly with the computer operating system.

Web applications, unlike desktop applications, are not limited to one operating system. A web application runs in a browser, and so anywhere a browser will run, the web application will run.

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