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Web applications present information that depends on data associated with the user or session. As far as the user goes, countless demographic and historical session attributes can make a difference in how an application responds. The response may also depend on things unrelated to the user, such as a temporal variable (e.g., the season or the day or the week) or some other external real-time data (e.g., the current number of houses for sale). In any case, the data being generated by a Web application is often dynamic and a function based on user and/or session information.

The main problem that a dynamic Web application creates for the designer is the inability to use the results of prior work. For example, if you use a Web application to search for a house online, searching with the same criteria one week from the date of the first search may very well return different results. Of course, this is not always the case. If you conduct the same house search 10 minutes after the first one, you will very likely get the same results both times. Obviously, the designer must know when it is safe to reuse results and when it is not.

There is a subtle relationship between interactive and dynamic application behavior. To avoid confusion, keep the following in mind: Interactivity has to do with the Web application executing in response to a user, whereas dynamism has to do with the response being a product of the user, her response, or some temporal or external variable. Thus, dynamic behavior is the more general notion: An application response is the product of a set of variables, some user-specified, some not. Interactivity is simply one means to achieve a dynamic response. Put another way, interactivity describes a cause; dynamism describes an effect.

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