When someone says the word app, what immediately comes to mind? iPhone apps, Microsoft Word, Internet Explorer? What if I included Gmail, Amazon and Facebook in that list, do they still count? Sure they do, they're just web apps, but instead of being created to run on an operating system, they're created to run on a web browser.
We don't think about it, but websites like Flickr, Ebay and even, WebCanada's Live CMS are all web apps, and they carry with them many advantages over the desktop counterparts...
Desktop Applications store information on your computer's hard drive, where web apps store information on a database independent from your computer or on "the cloud." Each time you request information from a web app it pulls the data dynamically, whether it be displaying an email or updating the homepage of your website in Live CMS; all that information is available to you no matter where you go, not matter what computer you're on.
You'll always have the newest version
With web apps there's no need to install or update software and as long as the developer continues to support your browser, the app will always work. This way enhanced functionality is easily pushed to the user. This is one advantage of web apps that often goes overlooked. The move to web apps is a huge time and cost savings in term of IT expenditure.
Cross device compatibility
Traditionally, developers have had to write their software for separate platforms e.g. PC, Mac, Linux, Mobile etc. But with web apps there's none of that worry, the only thing the web developers have to do is choose which browsers to support. Whether you're accessing a web app through a mobile phone, tablet, laptop or desktop it's sure to work.
Unlike a lot of desktop apps, web apps allow you to collaborate with others. Google Docs is a terrific example whereby you can collaborate on the same project without having to send multiple versions back and forth through email.
With accelerating internet connection speeds and faster computers coming to market, web apps have begun to replace much of what was the sole domain of the desktop. As new technologies like HTML5, PHP, MySQL, jQuery, AJAX and CSS3 evolve and become more powerful, we may just see our docks and taskbars filled with fewer desktop applications. No doubt, it's an exciting time to be in web development.
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