The Web is a highly programmable environment that allows mass customization through the immediate deployment of a large and diverse range of applications, to millions of global users. Two important components of a modern website are flexible web browsers and web applications; both available to all and sundry at no expense.
Web browsers are software applications that allow users to retrieve data and interact with content located on web pages within a website.
Todayâ€™s websites are a far cry from the static text and graphics showcases of the early and mid-nineties: modern web pages allow personalized dynamic content to be pulled down by users according to individual preferences and settings. Furthermore, web pages may also run client-side scripts that â€œchangeâ€ the Internet browser into an interface for such applications as web mail and interactive mapping software (e.g., Yahoo Mail and Google Maps).
Most importantly, modern web sites allow the capture, processing, storage and transmission of sensitive customer data (e.g., personal details, credit card numbers, social security information, etc.) for immediate and recurrent use. And, this is done through web applications. Such features as webmail, login pages, support and product request forms, shopping carts and content management systems, shape modern websites and provide businesses with the means necessary to communicate with prospects and customers. These are all common examples of web applications.
Web applications are, therefore, computer programs allowing website visitors to submit and retrieve data to/from a database over the Internet using their preferred web browser. The data is then presented to the user within their browser as information is generated dynamically (in a specific format, e.g. in HTML using CSS) by the web application through a web server.
Another significant advantage of building and maintaining web applications is that they perform their function irrespective of the operating system and browsers running client side. Web applications are quickly deployed anywhere at no cost and without any installation requirements (almost) at the userâ€™s end.
As the number of businesses embracing the benefits of doing business over the web increases, so will the use of web applications and other related technologies continue to grow. Moreover, since the increasing adoption of intranets and extranets, web applications become greatly entrenched in any organizationâ€™s communication infrastructures, further broadening their scope and possibility of technological complexity and prowess.