The future of web apps is…

If you’re just getting started with web apps, this article over at VentureBeat, while advanced, does provide a history of how webpages have morphed from single static HTML pages to fully functional “apps” that can work entirely inside the browser, without requiring a round trip to the server.

 

Since the dawn of the Web, the browsing experience has worked like this: a web browser would request a particular page (say, “http://www.geocities.com/“), causing a server somewhere on the Internet to generate an HTML page and send it back over the wire. This has worked well because browsers weren’t very powerful and HTML pages represented documents that were mostly static and self-contained. JavaScript, created to allow web pages to be more dynamic, didn’t enable much more than image slideshows and date picker widgets.

After years of advances in personal computing, creative technologists have pushed the web to its limits, and web browsers have evolved to keep up. Now, the Web has matured into a fully-featured application platform, and fast JavaScript runtimes and HTML5 standards have enabled developers to create the rich apps that before were only possible on native platforms.

 

That last sentence should give you some insight into what’s coming – no longer will you need to download an “app” from the various stores – you’ll just need to visit the URL in any web browser, on any device, be it desktop, phone or tablet, and the operating system you use will also mean nothing. So whether you use Windows, OSX or *nix, you’ll still be able to access these web apps.

 

The single-page app

It wasn’t long before developers started to build out entire applications in the browser using JavaScript, taking advantage of these new capabilities. Apps like Gmail, the classic example of the single-page app, could respond immediately to user interactions, no longer needing to make a round-trip to the server just to render a new page.

 

We’ll be talking about single-page and multi-page apps a bit later on, but I thought it worthwhile to show this snippet to reinforce the idea that web apps are (can be) just that – a single page app. We’ll get more into how a single page app can work in a future lesson, and also take a look at how multi-page apps work also.

 

And lastly, here’s a video you might like:

How about that? My take on that, is even though it pretty much promotes the Google Chrome browser (and why wouldn’t you use it – its available on pretty much any platform – I have it installed as a native app on my iPhone) it just goes to show that if you create your own web app, you can submit it to the Google Chrome webstore for the rest of the world to discover and install on their copy of Chrome.

Win, win, win.

So, what web app is in your future? What do you want to build? Visit the forums and let us know. We’ll help you as much as we can.

 

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