Web Application Development: Resources, Best Practices, and How to do it
12 February 2018
Every web application development company has to be aware of all the details that differ an average web application from an outstanding one.
So what is a web application?
To put it simply, a web app is a dynamic site combined with server-side programming. As a result of that, web apps can interact with the users, connect to back-end databases, and generate results to browsers.
Here are few web application examples: Social Networking, Online Banking, eCommerce, Online Reservations, Interactive Games, Blogs and Online Forums, and many more.
Coding: Web Technologies List
Web development services use two types of coding for web application development:
Client Side Scripting
This type of code is executed or interpreted by browsers and, generally, all site’s visitors can see it by clicking on “View Source” in the view menu.
The most popular Client Side Scripting technologies include:
- HTML (HyperText Markup Language)
- CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)
Server Side Scripting
This type of coding is executed or interpreted by the web server and it is not visible to the general public or the site’s visitors.
The most popular Server Side Scripting technologies include:
- PHP (very common Server Side Scripting language – Linux / Unix based Open Source – free redistribution, usually combines with MySQL database)
- Zend Framework (PHP’s Object Oriented Web Application Framework)
- ASP (Microsoft Web Server (IIS) Scripting language)
- ASP.NET (Microsoft’s Web Application Framework – successor of ASP)
- ColdFusion (Adobe’s Web Application Framework)
- Ruby on Rails (Ruby programming’s Web Application Framework – free redistribution)
- Perl (general-purpose high-level programming language and Server Side Scripting Language – free redistribution – lost its popularity to PHP)
- Python (general-purpose high-level programming language and Server Side Scripting language – free redistribution)
Web Application Architecture and how it supports the Future Growth
A website development company needs to keep in mind that a good web application architecture supports the future growth that comes from enhanced requirements, future interoperability, and increased demand.
The web app architecture defines how an app will function through object-oriented programming. The most important features include:
- Delivering persistent data through HTTP, which can be understood by client-side code and vice-versa
- Ensuring requests contain valid data
- Offering authentication for users
- Limiting what users can see based on permissions
- Creating, updating, and deleting records
Trends in Web Application Architecture
Just like all other trends, the trends in web application architecture evolve with the technology. One of the newest trends worth mentioning is service-oriented architecture.
What makes this trend interesting is the fact that most of the application code exists as services while each of them as its own HTTP API. Thanks to that, one facet of the code can make a request to another part of the code–which may be running on a different server.
One thing to keep in mind is that web app development is often focused on objects that are stored in tables through the SQL database. Every row has its specific record. So when we are talking about relational databases, it all comes down to relations. Simply by listing the row and the column, you can call on records.
Thanks to the two trends mentioned, viewing apps on multiple devices and platforms gets much easier. Even in the cases where the app code remains the same, the application can still be viewed on smaller screens as it is supposed to.
What makes a Good Web Application Architecture
Having a working app is not all it takes. Web development companies know that they also need a good web architecture. Here are some of the things that make the web app architecture a good one:
- Problems are solved consistently and uniformly
- The architecture is as simple as possible
- Supports the latest standards including A/B testing and analytics
- Offers fast response times
- Utilizes security standards to reduce the chance of malicious penetrations
- Does not crash
- Heals itself
- Does not have a single point of failure
- Scales out easily
- Allows for easy creation of known data
- Errors logged in a user-friendly way
- Automated deployments
Top Web Application Development Frameworks
This is one of the most popular server-side web application frameworks. It is an MVC framework (model–view–controller) and it provides default structures for a web page, web service, and database.
This is one of the free website development services that can help you with your next web project. Let’s take a look at a few pros and cons:
- A wide variety of great tools to formulate feature centric apps easily
- Easily obtainable Library and the best code quality
- Test Automation to deliver flawless software is supported
- Boot speed of Rails Framework
- Some IO libraries do not support multithreading
The thing that makes AngularJS stand out is that it lets you extend HTML vocabulary for your application. As a result of that, you get a readable and expressive environment that is quick to develop. In addition to that, it is one of the few software development services that let you modify or replace any feature to suit your own development workflow.
Let’s take a look at some more pros and cons:
- The fast loading time
- Lightweight framework
- Expressive framework
- Easy testability
- Two-way data binding
- Extends HTML
- The knowledge about the framework is necessary
- Router has limitations
- Using the directives can be difficult
- Code debugging isn’t easy
Ember.js is the best framework for a web application development company with ambitious web developers. It was built for productivity and to help the developers get the work done faster and easier.
Here are some of the pros and cons:
- Strong built-in router
- Simple web components
- A complete development stack
- Stability without stagnation
- Getters & setters are used for the testing. If you don’t use getters & setters, your web-based applications will come out with bugs.
CakePHP is an open-source platform which requires less code and makes web developing faster and simpler. As the name implies, it is written in PHP. Let’ take a look at the pros and cons:
- One of the most budget-friendly web development apps
- Scaffolding code generation
- Fast & flexible templating system
- Trustable security constraints
- MVC coding pattern
- One-way routing
- Documentation requires a good effort
- You need to update the default route to create fancy URLs
Phalcon is a high-performance PHP framework delivered as the C-extension. It is free to use and it follows the MCV pattern. It comes with the innovative architecture and the lowest overhead for MCV-based apps.
- Boosted execution speed
- Reduces the usage of the resource
- High performance
- Featured to handle more HTTP requests comparatively
- Root/Administrative access is required
- Compiled extension
Zend is one of the object-oriented web application development services and it supports a wide variety of database systems.
- Flexible caching subsystem
- Extensible MVC implementation supporting layouts
- Modular framework
- Extensible & easy to adapt
- Shared objects are loaded each time the script is executed
- External additional files clutter up the disk
- A call to dl() is required each time to use an external module’s functionality
With ASP.net, web application development for robust desktop and mobile apps will be much easier than before. It works with the HTTP protocol while it also optimizes the HTTP commands. It is a CLR framework using the best web development technologies.
- Large apps can be developed with less coding
- Safe & secure environment
- Easy to write & maintain source code
- Easy deployment
- Memory leaks, infinite loops are destroyed quickly
- Coding becomes somewhat complex for customization
- For Silverlight, data access is limited
- Direct call is restricted via ADO.NET
Symfony is a set of reusable PHP components and a PHP framework for web development. It is great for building robust apps that are entirely customized thanks to all the tools that give the website development companies a total control over the configuration.
- Multiple developers can manage a project
- Adds the security constraints for user authentication
- Incorporate the advanced features easily
- Performance testing
- It takes time to learn it
- Implementing accustomed requirements also takes time
Express is a great framework for custom web application development. You can use it to build a single page, multi-page, or hybrid apps. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
- The fast & minimalist framework
- A lot of useful features for web and mobile applications
- Developer-friendly support to create API
- Supports the concurrency
- It takes time to understand the code structure
- Lacking NodeJS libraries & ExpressJS middlewares
How do you stay current with the application development? Well, for starters, you use good frameworks such as Codeigniter. This framework is known for clear documentation and small footprint, and it is great for creating feature pack web apps.
- Compatible with the standard hosting
- Coding & naming conventions without restriction
- Lightweight & extensive
- Well defined Possessed Libraries
- Company driven framework
- Irregular releases
- The framework itself has no built-in ORM
Choose the Right Tool
There are so many good tools out there for you to choose from when building new web applications, it can get pretty overwhelming and you might end up picking the first that you find just to get it over with. And that might be a mistake.
We have mentioned several web application development tools above but how can you be sure you have chosen the right one for you? First of all, you need to understand the new 2018 frameworks and how they work.
Understanding Web Development Frameworks
In recent years, you might have noticed that there are more and more web development frameworks which are supposed to make the web application development easier and more effective.
The basic purpose of a framework is to use tools and libraries that will help you reach your specific technical goal and make developing in a language of your choice easier. How they tackle the goal you have set – that is what sets them apart and helps you pick the right one.
Now let’s talk some more about specific benefits and advantages that come with using the right web application framework.
Benefits and Advantages
- Program actions and logic are separated from the HTML, CSS and design files. This way, the designers with no programming experience can easily edit the interface and make design changes.
- Builds are based on the module, libraries, and tools. Programmers can share libraries easily while also implementing complex features and functionalities easily and efficiently.
- Producing the best practice coding with consistent logic and coding standards is much easier with this structure. The developers can become familiar with the code in a short time.
Coding guidelines are sets of rules and standards used in web application development. They apply to coding logic, naming conventions, classes and functions, statements, formatting and indentation, file organization, file name, and folder structure and names.
They come with a whole set of benefits including:
- The best environment for multiple programmers to work on a project together
- Great maintainability and version management
- Fantastic readability and understanding of the source code
- Other developers can understand and become familiar with the code easily
Lifecycle Model for Web Application Development
Web development lifecycle is a new methodology for developing web apps. It involves multiple teams engaged in the process with each of them having the possibility to set forth their own style of operating.
There are 2 basic models an application development company could use:
- SDLC (System Development Life Cycle) – web application development process that includes research to identify and define things such as the architectural design and specifications blueprint, programming, testing and bug fixing, information analysis, implementation, and maintenance etc.
- Agile Software / Web Application Development – focuses on the collaboration of people or teams of people involved in the project to provide a better and easier working experience. This method includes research, analysis, programming, design, testing, project management, adaptation, and maintenance.
Web Application Development Process
The following list of procedures and suggested documents provide a good outline for a Web Application Lifecycle and Process:
- Roadmap Document: Defining Web Application, Purpose, Goals, and Direction
- Researching and Defining Audience Scope and Security Documents
- Creating Functional Specifications or Feature Summary Document
- Team Collaboration and Project Management Document
- Technology Selection, Technical Specifications, Illustrative Diagram of Web Application Architecture and Structure, Development Methodology, Versions Control, Backups, Upgrades, Expansion and Growth Planning Document, Server Hardware / Software Selection
- Third Party Vendors Analysis and Selection (Merchant Account and Payment Gateway, SSL Certificate, Managed Server / Colocated Server Provider, Fulfillment Centers, Website Visitor Analytics Software, Third Party Checkout Systems, etc.)
- Application Visual Guide, Design Layout, Interface Design, Wire Framing
- Database Structure Design and Web Application Development
- Testing: Quality Assurance, Multiple Browser Compatibility, Security, Performance – Load and Stress Testing, Usability
Web Application Testing
Frequent testing is a very important part of every web development service. This part of the process sometimes takes more time and effort than developing itself.
Testing happens on several different levels and there are different types of testing required to make sure that the app is working properly. Here are some of the necessary testing types:
- Quality Assurance and Bug Testing
- Multiple Browser Compatibility
- Application Security
- Performance – Load and Stress Testing
With the development of new apps, the way companies do business has changed as well. Here are some examples:
1. Information is available to everyone who seeks it
2. The way traditional companies do business has been challenged by the new global environment that the new web created.
3. Online business and e-commerce became a thing.
4. Clients and customers can find the services and products more easily. They can also find more options and choose one that best fits their needs and budget.
5. Consulting and advice-giving based company are now struggling due to the sea of information and advice available online.
6. Location-based services (LBS) will capitalize on GPS.
7. Augmented reality (AR) and utility apps will integrate.
8. Internet-of-Things apps will connect the world.
How to Create Web Application: Tips to Get It Right
If you want to create a successful app on your first try, you need to know exactly what you are doing. Let’s go through the web application development process step by step.
Step 1: Planning
Before you start with all that coding, you need to take a look at the bigger picture and plan everything ahead. You don’t want to write the code over and over again, do you? Ask yourself the most basic questions such as: What is your goal? What is the overall intention? Who will use the app? How to make it as simple as possible?
Once you know the answers to those questions, you can start building your new web app. However, be sure you have really thought it through.
Step 2: Think about the user experience
Don’t get all caught up with the programming right away. Don’t forget that you should spend a lot more time on the research and preparing the design than the programming itself. One of the first things to think about is the user experience. Try to understand the potential user and create a user-friendly design.
Step 3: Write smarter, not more
Every single piece of code you write has to have a purpose. If you write more instead of writing less smartly, you are practically asking for bugs to appear. Every line of code has to either provide a necessary feature or solve a problem.
Step 4: Choose the right framework
There is no need for you to do everything from the scratch by yourself. In fact, whenever possible, you should make things easier for yourself because not only will the app development process be easier and faster, but you will also avoid a lot of bugs on the way.
Choose the right framework for your web application development and built better quality apps in the shorter time period.
Step 5: Don’t over-engineer things
It is great to think about the future, but don’t over-engineer things just because you have an unclear vision of something that might or might not a future user need. Of course, today’s interfaces will eventually become outdated and there will be a moment when you will have to change it, but don’t get all caught up in that just yet.
Expect to make some updated down the road, but for starters, keep things as simple as possible. It will save you a lot of time and trouble and the app will probably turn out better like this either way.
Step 6: Write testable code
Frequent testing is what makes all the difference. If you want to be a serious developer, you have to take testing seriously. However, some code is almost impossible to test due to the way it was written. Think about that when writing your own code.
Step 7: Know what you’re optimizing for
If you are making just a quick prototype of a code, there is no need to spend a lot of time optimizing it for the perfect reliability etc. However, if you are creating a code that is meant to last a while, you should optimize for readability and extensibility. There will be somebody working on the code after you and they need to understand it. Don’t overcomplicate things just for the sake of complicating things. After all, we already talked about the importance to keep things simple and effective.
Ending thoughts on web application development
Web application development can be both extremely hard and extremely easy; it all depends on the approach you decide to take. One way or the other, you should keep in mind why and for whom you are building the app and then let it speak for itself.
Just like any other project, the web app development takes some research and preparation. The entire process has to be carefully thought through before you start writing the code to get the best results in the shortest period of time.
On the way towards achieving your goal, don’t forget to use the right tools and ALWAYS keep things as simple as possible. Complicating thins will result in bugs and that is the last thing you want.
Last but not least, don’t underestimate the power of testing – it can save you a lot of sleepless nights down the road.
All that being said, keep practicing and let your skills grow with your experience. Soon enough, you will be able to get through the whole development process with no major issues on the way.
If you enjoyed reading this article on web application development, you should check out this one about web development trends.