Web applications are important for the development of the Internet. They improve the quality of a browser’s work and the entire Internet can function plainly. What is a web application? It is a client-software application run by the client in a browser. The main function of a browser is to show the information received from a server and send the user’s data back. The main advantage of this approach is the fact that clients do not depend on the user’ specific operating system; therefore, web applications are cross-platform services. Due to this universal feature, web apps became very popular in 1990s and 2000s. Developers do not need to prepare different versions of the same app for Microsoft Window, Mac OS, Linux, etc. An app is created only once for any platform and it can work on any operating system. However, the different practical realization of HTML, CSS, DOM and other interfaces in browsers can cause troubles during the web application development and their further support. Moreover, a web app can work incorrectly because of the user’s opportunity to change browser’s settings in the way he wants.
The history of web application development is quite newsworthy and uncommon. Developers had to find the most radical and intensive solutions to the existing problems. It was considerable to make web apps work on different operating systems fluently. The earliest computing models were inconvenient. Every app had its precompiled client program and it had to be separately installed on every user’s PC. Furthermore, the components of client and server were tightly bound to the definite operating system and computer architecture. As a result, it was expensive to port apps to other systems. If you recall the Web of its earliest days, you will say that the client received a web page as a static document. It was difficult to have interactive experience when you worked with such a page. When you introduced any changes to the web page, you required time to refresh this page inasmuch as conducted a round trip back to its server.
In 1996, Macromedia Flash was introduced. It was also a revolutionary innovation that made the Web ‘brighter’ and interactive. This vector animation player enabled programmers to enrich web pages with animation. This multimedia software platform works with animation, different types of browser games, vector graphics and Internet and mobile applications. It was a solid progress when Adobe Flash included the streaming of audio and video in its animation. This platform makes the user interact with the machine with the help of a mouse, microphone and a keyboard. Moreover, any program interactions on the client side no longer require communication with the server. Since 1996, the growing popularity of various interactive online video games has been noticed due to the revolutionary technology provided by Macromedia Flash. When you recall the Internet before 2000, you will agree that the majority of websites used embedded interactive multimedia content on their pages. You could see animated ads and videos that overloaded webpages with colors and unnecessary ‘movement’. Very soon, the popularity of Flash declined. Webpages gained their regular look. The user’s work was no longer interrupted by the odd and unexpected ads and streaming videos inasmuch as they slowed the work of the website and consumed the additional traffic. Nevertheless, there are still cheap websites that utilize Flash on their webpages. Nowadays, Adobe Flash is mostly used for the creation of various video games and interactive applications for smartphones and tablets.
In 1999, the concept of web application appeared in Java language. Later on, in 2005, Ajax was introduced by Jesse James Garrett in his article “Ajax: A New Approach to Web Application”. This complex of web development techniques enabled programmer to compose asynchronous web apps. The principle of its work is very simple and revolutionary at the same time. It made it possible for the user to work in the Web faster and better. Web apps are able to send data to the server and retrieve it from it without interfering with the work on the particular page. It does not have to download the whole page. Ajax was first created for Internet Explorer but very soon, such browsers as Opera, Mozilla and Safari adopted it too. Google has been using this technique intensively in Gmail and Google Maps since 2005.
The history of web application development is quite complicated. There are many technologies (Flash, Java, Silverlight, etc.) that make the work in the Internet as easy as possible. One can listen to audio, watch videos and draw on the screen with the help of the simple click of a mouse. The interactivity of the Web has become enormous and it will be even more effective and varied in future. Ajax is one of the best examples of the set of technologies that improve the level of interactivity between the user and the machine. Without doubt, we will be the witnesses of the rapid improvement of the Internet technologies, web applications in particular. The brightest minds of this field do their best to make web apps independent from platforms, browsers and other apps.
Where do we use browser applications nowadays? The examples are as simple as that. The most common applications are your office software. For instance, when you need to write an article, you open your word processor, which belongs to the most basic office app. When you need to complete a presentation, you apply PowerPoint. There are also complicated apps that enable users to design objects, create and edit videos and trade in the Internet.