Web applications are popular due to the ubiquity of web browsers, and the convenience of using a web browser as a client, sometimes called a thin client. The ability to update and maintain web applications without distributing and installing software on potentially thousands of client computers is a key reason for their popularity, as is the inherent support for cross-platform compatibility. Common web applications include webmail, online retail sales, online auctions, wikis and many other functions.
Web applications do not require any complex "roll out" procedure to deploy in large organizations. A compatible web browser is all that is needed. Browser applications typically require little or no disk space on the client. They require no upgrade procedure since all new features are implemented on the server and automatically delivered to the users. Web applications integrate easily into other server-side web procedures, such as email and searching. They also provide cross-platform compatibility in most cases (i.e., Windows, Mac, Linux, etc.) because they operate within a web browser window.
With the advent of HTML5, programmers can create richly interactive environments natively within browsers. Included in the list of new features are native audio, video and animations, as well as improved error handling. Modern web applications support greater interactivity and greatly improved usability through technologies such as AJAX that efficiently exchange data between the browser and the server. Web applications allow for easier introduction of new user devices (e.g. smartphones, tablets) because they have built-in browsers.
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