What is Web Application Architecture?
Web application refers to those types of applications that run on a browser. It requires the use of web technology to perform its tasks over the internet. A few characteristics of a web application are:
- A web application focuses on only a particular problem.
- It is highly interactive like desktop applications.
- A content management system is present in web applications.
The article focuses briefly on the architecture of the web application and its work extending to the components.
Traditionally websites were a combination of static pages, but in the present day, the websites have transformed from being static to being both static and dynamic. The dynamic part of the websites is known as the web applications. The client refers to any device used to browse the internet.
While a server refers to the other half of the website. As the name suggests, the server serves the data requested by the client. The communication between a client and a server is called the client-server model. The main goal of the client-server model is to receive the request from the client and deliver the response.
Web application architecture refers to the framework of components and their communication enabling a better web experience. Communications between the components are the interactions between the databases, applications, and other systems involved in it on the web. The goal of the architecture is to enable the multiple executions of programs simultaneously. The architecture can be portrayed through the simple example of browsing a web page.
- The user requests for a particular web address in a browser after typing its URL in the address bar. The server after receiving the request sends some files back to the browser as a response. The requested pages are then displayed once the files are executed by the browser.
- Displaying the requested pages allows the interaction between the user and the website. The web browser parses the code while executing.
- Based on the inputs of the user, the code might not have the required information to let the browser know how to respond to the user inputs.
- Therefore, sub-components and external application interchanges are required to be included in the web application architecture.
- Web communication has become an important part of most applications and devices and therefore web applications have become a necessity in the modern world.
- Reliability, security, scalability, efficiency, and robustness are some of the requirements of a web application.
Properties of Web Applications
- Web applications are applied for solving business problems.
- Fast user experience is ensured by the web applications.
- It provides security.
- The web applications are self-regulating and sustainable.
- The visual aesthetic is supported by web applications.
- A/B testing and analytics are supported.
Web Application Functions
- Client-side code: This code is localized in the browser that responds to the client’s input.
- Server-side code: this code responds to the requests made by the HTTP and is localized in the server.
Those codes are able to run on a server that can respond to the HTTP requests and is responsible for generating user-requested pages. Further, it can store various types of data like the user inputs and profiles. The end-user is never able to get a hold of that information.
Therefore, the webserver and an application server are required by the web application to receive and manage the client request and for the performance of the requested tasks.
The working of a web application follows the following sequence:
- Through the use of an application’s user interface or web browser, the user generates a request over the internet to the web server.
- The request is then forwarded to the appropriate web application server by the webserver.
- The requested task is performed by the web application server and generates the results. The request can be anything related to database querying or data processing.
- The results are sent back to the web server by the web application server with the processed data or the required information as requested by the client.
- The requested information is displayed on the user display by the webserver.
Components of Web Application Architecture
The architecture of a typical web application consists of application components, databases, and middleware systems. The components of a web application architecture comprise of
- UI/UX Web Application Components: These components include the activity logs, notifications, statistical data, dashboards, settings, etc. They are mostly used for laying the foundation of the web application and creating visuals. The components are not involved in any operation of the web-based applications.
- Structural components: The structural components of a web application include the client-side and the server-side. It includes the database server and the web application server.
- Server Component: Creation of the client components requires the knowledge of Java, .NET, Python, Ruby, PHP, and Node.js. Two parts of the server components are app logic and database. App logic controls the web application while the database stores all the information.
The components for building a web application can be chosen from the following models:
1. One web server and one database: The most simple and the least reliable model of the web application are the one web server and one database. The reliability of such models is low as the web application built on such models goes down as soon as the server goes down.
Problems with the server don’t allow the working of such applications and hence server stability is the main factor upon which the successful operation of the application relies upon.
The model is not used for building real web applications, but can be used for testing and learning the fundamentals of the web application.
2. Two web servers and one database: Web applications built over such models are quite reliable compared to the above- mentioned one due to the presence of a backup server. There is no storage of data in the webserver. The information received by the web server from a client is processed by the web server and written to the database. This database is managed outside the server. The model is also referred to as stateless architecture.
The model requires the use of at least two web servers for avoiding failure as the breakdown of one server will lead to the other server taking charge. In such cases, the requests will be directed towards the new server and hence the execution of the web application will be continued. But, in case of a database crash, the web application will crash too.
3. More than two web servers and databases: One of the most efficient and dependable options for building an application is the model consisting of more than two servers and databases. The presence of more than one component avoids the problems associated with the failure of the web application.
Having multiple databases allows the options of storing either identical data in all the databases or evenly distributing the data among all the databases. Load balancers are required to be installed if more than 5 web servers or databases are used. The models are widely used for building web applications for enterprises due to their ability to handle a large volume of data.
Types of Web Application Architecture
Web application architecture type depends on the distribution of the application logic among the client and the server-side. It includes both the web application architecture and the web server architecture.
The web application architecture is primarily of three types.
- Microservices: These types of architecture provide advantages in terms of enhancing productivity and speeding up the deployment process. A single functionality is executed by the microservices type of architecture and hence small and lightweight. Development of the application based on microservices is simple and quick as the code required to build the components of the app doesn’t need to be of the same programming language.
- Serverless Architectures: This is a type of web server architecture. In serverless architecture, a third party is required for outsourcing the server and the infrastructure management. The application executes the code in the cloud without bothering other tasks related to infrastructure.
Other types of web server architecture include Java, Node.Js, .NET, PHP, Azure, AngularJS, Laravel, and Python-based web application architecture.
Examples of Web Application
Examples of web applications include online forms, word processors, shopping carts, spreadsheets, photo, and video editing, file conversion and scanning, and email programs such as Gmail, Yahoo, and AOL.
A few examples of some popular web applications are:
1. Google Docs: Google docs allow the users to create and save documents on the computer or in a Google Drive account. The files can be saved in PDF format which can be printed and shared with other users. It enables the working over the same document by different users. Even without an internet connection, the application can be used and the modification done in a document will be automatically saved on being connected to the internet again.
2. Netflix: The app is one of the important video streaming platforms. It allows the users to browse and watch their favorite movies at any particular time as per the user’s preference.
Other examples of web applications include Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, etc.
The web application has seen an increase in their use with the increase in the usage of the internet in the present years. As we have discussed in the article, a web application provides security which is further determined by the type of model chosen to build the application. Therefore, before going to the development of a web-based application, it’s better to explore in-depth the requirements and concepts behind it.
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