In the beginning, software applications were desktop ones. You know, the ones you download from the internet or install from a CD, and get pinged about updates you need to install.
We then moved to mobile applications. With the same story, you need to install it on your mobile phone and update it now and then to get those latest shiny features.
But can we do better? Yes we can!
As a software engineer, your job isn’t stopped at writing software. You need to have a vision about the future, where the industry is heading, and to take advantage of anything new that can help you or your customers. I wanted to make it bold as this is totally different from using any new, hot, and trending technology. Your users do not care if you’re using a new shiny thing, they only care if it’s adding value to their interaction with your software. Balancing these two requirements, the developer’s and the user’s experience is something you always need to keep in mind.
There is a type of application having a good balance between users and developers. And this is where the industry is heading. It’s the web applications era! And this era is here to last. It’s not fading, it’s not a bubble, it’s here to stay for a long time.
Web applications are programs running on a server and use web pages as a way to interact with users. You can use web applications anywhere with no minimum RAM, CPU, or OS version. And this suits this era, where everyone is having multiple devices and is not willing to install your app on every single device.
Web applications are better for your users and for you, and we’ll discuss why:
Web-based applications are convenient. To use a web application, you only need a browser connected to the internet. You can use it anywhere from any device: laptop, desktop computer, mobile phone, tablet, monitor on a fridge, smart tv, anything!
Before web applications, when you install an app on your phone or on your desktop computer, you can only use it on that computer/mobile. You are locked. But we are in an era where everything is connected. Your users will have more expectations: “If I can access this on my computer, why can’t I use it from my phone? Do I always need to have a laptop with me?”
1. When developing a web application. Your users can use your app from any device they want. You are providing freedom to your customers.
Every electronic device you buy can be lost, get stolen, or just stop working. This means, all your applications and all your data is gone.
With web applications, there is no data saved on the device. All critical customer data is stocked on the servers and secured by experts. Your users can be assured that their data is in safe hands and they can’t lose it even if they lose/switch their devices.
They also don’t need to worry about running an old version of your software. They don’t need to keep installing new versions, security patches, etc. It just works.
2. Your users are free from worrying about running an old version or losing their data when running a web application.
For you (and developers in general)
Use any language you want
When developing for mobile or desktop, you’re obliged to use a specific language for each platform. You can also use a hybrid solution so you can target Windows and macOS at the same time for example, which usually oblige you to use a specific language. The good news is, there is no such restriction for web applications.
3. When developing for the web, your software is running on your servers, and you own your servers. So, you aren’t obliged to develop in any specific language. You can use anything you want.
Supporting a web application is very different from any other application. When a customer asks you about something, you don’t need to ask back about the version or the operating system. At any moment, everyone is using the same version.
4. In web applications, all bugs can be reproduced as you are all running the same version and you have all data you need to reproduce the bug.
When developing for Desktop or Mobile, releasing a new version is troublesome as you need to package your app, release it… When developing web applications, you can release as much as you want. Currently, with my team at Automattic, we deliver a new addition/update at least once a day. Sometimes, even more. Without sweating.
5. Having the possibility to work on something then pushing it to the world in the same day/week is a huge confidence boost for the team.
This is why web applications are sold for a monthly subscription cost. You actually buy the access to the app, not a version of it.
So to sum up:
In web applications, we don’t sell you a new version of the software, because the software is already updated every single day. We sell you access to an always up-to-date app. That can be used from your phone, laptop, or any other device. And can keep your data safe for you.
If you’re planning to get a remote job in software engineering, it’s good to have an idea about web applications. At least, you need to know how things work on the web, how we serve pages, basic security advice, etc.
The web is the future, and you can see that from all those software engineering postings (remote or not). If you’re investing in learning web technologies, you’re doing a good job. If not, it’s never too late, you can start whenever you want.
It’s also never late to switch for a remote job too. Head to the Start Here page to learn more about it! Or join our mailing list to get the latest news on your email every week: