Saturday, 15 September 2018

What is the difference between a #WebApp and a normal #website?

What is the difference between a #WebApp and a normal #website?

I often get asked what’s the difference between a WebApp and a website. I can see why this is confusing because web applications run on an internet web browser and you access them by going to its URL like a normal website.

Very good examples of webApp’s are webmail, online retail, instant messaging and so on. They are designed for a specific task in mind. They are responsive to work well on mobile devices and designed in a way to make it easier to use with touch.

WebApps are application like sage accounting, word, outlooks etc... but they can run on a web browser. They access their data from a server which then makes it accessible from any web browser. We can often refer to these as cloud based application too even though they are not the same thing. Here is a link that explains the difference between a webapp and cloud based app from @TechRepublic #techrepublic.

Traditional websites tend to be more information based where the information is same for all visitors at all times.

Imagine a website with a price list with all the products , yes you may be able to search and see the relevant information but it’s always same.

Now imagen a website where you can add items to your basket ,to your favorites, send your order. You can also login and check your order history. Reset your password. It’s the same website for everyone to access but will look and display the information based on the users previous choices.

This could be from simple data inputting application, to vehicle tracking application, to multi shop application, to stock checking application. Because we can run these applications on a web browser we call them WebApps. We can create many applications to run on web browser these days. Today’s browsers support JavaScript, css,php and few other programming languages and easily interact with a powerful databases like sql which can handle ,store and read data at great speeds if used correctly. Data backup is also simplified. 

One of the great advantages for web applications that I really love is they work on all devices from mobile phones, tablets to computers/laptops regarding of their operating system. If you were to create and #apple #app for #AppStore this can only be used on apple devices. Facebook had to create one app for apple devices, one app for Android and one for web. Obviously, they have the man power and money to build these and also maintain it. We used to get same application functioning differently on different devices as they were built for separate platforms / devices by different group of people.

One of the biggest setbacks for a webApp compared to a mobile application is the notifications. You can’t send notifications to a WebApps ass you could only reach to customers if and when they are on your site.  But #google have made some big progress on this and soon we may be able to send notifications to webApp’s.

The second biggest setback of the #webApplications, again compared to a mobile application is to run offline, but now days everything needs to be online to be used properly. You can open your Facebook or Instagram application while offline but can only view what you have already viewed previously. Now again #google #chrome had been making very big improvements with its browsers and creating something called service worker, which allows us to store cached data also create a local data while offline and send / receive information when back online. 

Nowadays if you have designed your webApp to be mobile friendly / responsive, it can be converted in to an Apple and/or android app.

I see a great feature in WebApps and hope all the web browsers invest a bit more time and money in to it. Yes it may be more difficult to build a webApp as you have to test on all screen sizes and browsers to make sure it functions correctly and your code is accepted by all, whereas if you have used #xcode to develop your app, this will test and run on your apple devices with ease. This is also same for #android as android studio makes life easier to develop your app for its own market and devices. These app development tools will help you from the app icon , app icon size for phone and tablets to splash screen , load screen and so on where as for the webApp this may require more coding to make sure it will function on all web browsers and mobile devices.

#Android and #Apple also allow to add a #webApp and #websites to home screen with an icon which is a very cool feature but not many people know or use.

I hope to have shed some light on webApp’s . I have tried to keep it simple and just to give an overview on webApp’s.

Erkan Senol

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