What is a web app? What you need to know about web applications

by Meike Müller

Reading time 5 min

What to expect
  1. What is a web app?
  2. How exactly does a web app work?
  3. What types of web apps are there?
  4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of a web app?
  5. What are well-known examples of web apps?
    1. Our examples
  6. How can you create a customized web app?
  7. FAQ
    1. How can I program web applications?
    2. What is a progressive web app?
    3. What is a native web app?
    4. What is a web server?
    5. What is a web browser app?
    6. What are web applications 2.0 and web applications 3.0?
    7. What is a web app?
    8. What does the abbreviation PWAs stand for?
    9. What is important for the platform independence of a web app?

What is a web app?

A web app is an application that is provided via a server or a cloud. It can be called up at any time in an Internet browser. As a rule, it does not matter which end device is used, as web apps are usually programmed across all browsers. They are therefore not installed and stored on the user's individual computer, but on a web server. This can be accessed remotely. A web app can be seen as a kind of additional program that can be used on a wide variety of devices. When we talk about a web application, we also mean a web app. App is the abbreviation for application software. By the way: web apps are part of the topic of web development, which you can find out more about here.

How exactly does a web app work?

For a web application to function, there must be an application server, a web server and a database. The application server is responsible for carrying out the tasks that were previously managed on the web server via a client. To be able to display all the information, it needs a database that stores everything.

Grafik Laptop Funktionsfähigkeit einer Web-AnwendungThanks to these components, the web application does not need to be downloaded, but can be accessed directly by the user via a browser such as Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or Safari from Apple, which communicates with the web server via an HTTP protocol. JavaScript, CSS or HTML5 are often used when programming apps for the web. For web apps with HTML5, the application code can also be cached, which enables offline use. However, there are still very few web applications where this occurs. If you would like to know how we at EXWE can support you with programming, you can find more information on our page about web development.

In contrast to web apps, there are native apps, which you know mainly from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. They were developed for a specific operating system, such as Android and iOS. They can then only run on these operating systems for which they were developed. So if you find an app in the Apple App Store and in the Google Play Store, these are two different versions of the app. You can download the native apps and use them offline, as they have been installed on your operating system and are fully functional. However, some web apps also require you to have the latest browser version or a special runtime environment such as Flash or JavaScript.

What types of web apps are there?

Of course, you can also differentiate between web apps. This is because a web app can have very different characteristics and can range in scope from simple to complicated. For example, web apps can be divided into dynamic and static web apps. In addition, a web app can also be an online store or a portal.

With a dynamic web application, an app is programmed that is much more complex than a static app. There are more functions and the data is constantly updated.

The development of an online store is also more complicated, as many functions such as payment methods and data processing have to be integrated. It must be possible to enter new data for new products. Portals are web applications that are often used for administrative purposes. From the start page of a portal, for example, you can access your e-mail inbox, a chat area or a search engine.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a web application?

The clear advantage of a web application is that anyone can access it. No additional storage space is required. The only thing users need is an end device with a browser that can access the web application. This also makes it easier to integrate software upgrades and make them accessible to everyone. In contrast to a native app, the software does not have to be uninstalled and downloaded again for an upgrade.

It can also be accessed from any end device, i.e. desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet. Every browser can also access the web application. A web app is always an advantage when several users need to use the same version of the software. As changes and entries are not saved locally, they also appear for other users when they call up the web application on their end device. The web application can be easily shared with other users using the appropriate link. They can use all functions directly without installation. The web application is also generally cheaper to develop than a native app.

One disadvantage of a web app is that it is not fully optimized for the respective browser or end device so that it remains functional for all users. In this aspect, native apps can of course score points. Not all functions of a native app can be implemented in a web app either. For example, you cannot access and use the sensors, data or vibrations of the end device.

What are common examples of web apps?

Grafik Laptop Web-App Programmierung Web app programming is used when the function is to be available on all devices. This is the case, for example, with so-called Software as a Service (SaaS) offers. This is software that can be used by customers as a service. Web apps include SEO tools for keyword analysis, Google services, messenger or email services, some online games or even maps and navigation programs. As you can see, the use of web applications is very versatile.

Our examples

As a software and web app agency, we have already developed several web applications for our customers. Here are a few examples of our web-based software projects:

  • Implementation of a web app for the visualization of building inspections for the customer ElephantsCanJump
  • Web-based intranet sales tool for a leading manufacturer of compressor technology
  • A web-based CRM, calendar and appointment management software for a leading German photo studio chain

How can you create a customized web application?

You can have an individual web application programmed by an app agency that specializes in the development of web apps, for example. We at EXWE are also experts in the field of app programming for web applications. With us, you can have an app developed that meets your requirements. It doesn't matter whether you want to use it internally for your employees or as software as a service. For more information, we would be happy to invite you for a cup of coffee and a non-binding consultation.

A short FAQ on the topic of web applications

A short FAQ about web applications and more. If you still have any questions, we at EXWE will of course be happy to help and answer them.

  • How can I program web applications?

    To program web applications, you generally need basic knowledge of a programming language such as JavaScript, HTML and CSS. You should also have a basic understanding of web development technologies and concepts such as HTTP, DOM and Ajax. If you have no previous web development experience, I recommend using online tutorials and resources to learn the basics. There are also many books and courses that deal specifically with web application programming that can help you get started.

  • What is a progressive web app?

    A progressive web app is a type of web application that is accessible to internet users in a way that matches its ubiquity in the digital age. Essentially, they are web applications that function like native applications and behave the same way on mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets as they do on desktop computers.

    This means that a progressive web app is able to access different hardware and software platforms and provide users with a fast and seamless user experience. For example, they can be installed on the home screen of a smartphone as a standalone application without the need to install from an app store.

    In addition, progressive web apps can be used offline when an internet connection is not available, offering similar functionality to native applications. For example, a progressive web app can cache information that was previously retrieved by the user and then make it available offline. This is particularly useful for users who are on the move or working in areas with a poor internet connection.

  • What is a native web app?

    Native apps are applications that have been developed for a specific operating system. These applications are developed using programming languages that are supported by the operating system. For example, native iOS apps for Apple devices such as iPhones and iPads are developed in the Swift programming language, while native Android apps for Android devices are developed in the Java or Kotlin programming language.

  • What is a web server?

    A web server is a computer that receives requests from web clients (e.g. web browsers) and responds by sending web content such as HTML pages, images and videos to these clients. Web servers are used to provide websites and web applications that can be accessed by users from all over the world via the Internet. Web servers usually run on special operating systems and use web server software such as Apache or IIS to process requests from clients and deliver the corresponding content.

  • What is a web browser app?

    A web browser app is an application that runs in a web browser and is usually used via the internet. Unlike native apps, which are developed specifically for a particular operating system and hardware, web browser apps can run on different platforms and devices.

    A web browser app uses the capabilities of the browser to display dynamic content and enable data exchange with a server or database. By using web technologies such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript, web browser apps can provide a variety of functions that would otherwise only be available to native apps.

    The user experience of web browser apps can vary as it depends heavily on the quality of the browser and internet connection. However, in general, web browser apps are able to provide a similar user experience to native apps as they are able to access native features such as GPS, camera and microphone.

    Web browser apps are also able to adapt quickly to changes in the user environment as they can be updated instantly without the need for manual updating. This allows web browser apps to provide a faster and more efficient user experience, especially when it comes to updating content.

  • What are web apps 2.0 and web apps 3.0?

    "Web applications 2.0" and "Web applications 3.0" are terms used to describe advances in web application development. These terms are not universally recognized, and their meaning may vary depending on the context. However, here are some possible definitions:

    Web Applications 2.0: The term "Web Applications 2.0" was first used in the early 2000s to describe the second generation of web applications. These applications were typically more dynamic and interactive than their predecessors, and they utilized Web 2.0 technologies such as Ajax to provide a richer user experience. Some of the most well-known examples of web applications 2.0 include social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, the blogs and wikis, and cloud-based applications such as Google Docs and Dropbox.

    Web applications 3.0: The term "web applications 3.0" has been around since the 2010s. It describes the next generation of web applications that are based on the advances of web applications 2.0. They use modern technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), big data, blockchain and the Internet of Things (IoT) to provide an even richer and more personalized user experience. Web applications 3.0 may also be able to perform complex tasks that were traditionally only performed by native applications, such as processing large amounts of data in real time. An example of a web application 3.0 could be a personalized digital assistant that helps the user perform everyday tasks.

  • What does a web app involve?

    A web app is an application that can be accessed via a web browser and is usually used over the internet. It differs from a conventional desktop application in that it does not need to be installed and is accessed via a browser. A web app therefore consists of a server that provides the application and a user interface that is displayed in the user's browser. The web app communicates with the server via the Internet and may also use a database to store and retrieve data.

  • What does the abbreviation PWAs stand for?

    The abbreviation "PWAs" stands for "Progressive Web Apps". Progressive web apps are a type of application program that is developed using web technologies. They offer a combination of the functions of a website and a native app and can be used on various devices via the web browser.

    The term "progressive" refers to the progressive improvement of an application's functionality. PWAs can access certain functions and features gradually, depending on the capabilities of the device or browser used. This enables smooth use on different platforms and devices.

    PWAs offer numerous advantages, especially for enterprise applications. Compared to native apps, they generally require less development effort as they can be based on a standardized code base and do not have to be developed separately for each platform. This reduces the development effort and costs of deploying applications on different operating systems such as iOS, Android or Windows.

    In addition, PWAs enable easy distribution and updating of applications as they can be installed directly via the web browser and do not require a separate installation from an app store. This makes it easier to provide updates and maintain the applications.

  • What is important for the platform independence of a web app?

    Several aspects are important for the platform independence of a web app:

    - Interactivity: A platform-independent web app should provide an interactive user interface that works smoothly on different devices and operating systems. This includes support for user interactions such as clicking, scrolling, entering text, etc., regardless of the platform used.

    - Range of functions: The web app should offer the same range of functions on all supported platforms. This means that all core functions and features of the application should be available regardless of the device or operating system. It is important that users have a consistent experience whether they are using the app on a desktop computer, a tablet or a smartphone.

    - Cross-platform design: A cross-platform web app should be designed to work well on different devices and screen sizes. The design should be responsive and automatically adapt to the respective screen size. This ensures that the app is displayed optimally on different devices and offers a good user experience.

    - Data processing: The web app should be able to process data independently of the platform. This includes processing user input, data validation, calculations and other data manipulation. Platform independence allows this data processing logic to work the same on all supported devices.

    - Data storage: The web app should be able to store and retrieve data in a platform-independent manner. This can be achieved by using platform-independent databases, local storage or cloud storage solutions. In this way, the app's data can be stored and managed uniformly on different platforms.

    -Information exchange: A platform-independent web app should be able to exchange data and information with other systems and platforms. This can be done via APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), for example, which enable standardized communication and data transfer between the web app and other platforms. The cross-platform exchange of information allows the app to interact seamlessly with other systems and services.

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from 07.09.2021

Hello, my name is Meike. I take care of the EXWE back office and am responsible for our social media channels. All of our articles are meant to make your life easier and help you make decisions. Nevertheless, it can happen that something remains unclear, so: If you have questions about this article you can easily reach me at +49 231 93149827.

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