[whatwg] Why not JavaScript?

liorean liorean at f2o.org
Wed Jun 9 16:36:26 PDT 2004

Ian Bicking wrote:
> Peter-Paul Koch wrote:
>> I'm confused by the paper's mention of eBay and Amazon as examples of web applications. To me, these are not applications but web sites, and they can function without JavaScript (I'm not saying they do, I'm just saying they can). 
> It's an aside, but this may be the source of some confusion in this group.  I think people are coming up with two separate ideas of what a web application is: one thinks of it as a server-based application with a web frontend (like Amazon), another thinks of it as a whole new platform for client-based applications, that do not necessarily have a controlling server.  I think this is especially true when people think of this in terms of competing with XAML or other rich client systems.
> My impression is that WHAT is intended to address the more traditional server-based applications, allowing for richer web interfaces.  Perhaps it would be helpful if there was some clarification on the scope of WHAT, specifically what is intended by the term "web application."

I'll throw in my opinion here - the distinction between a web application, an application, a document, and a web page.

Document versus application:
This distinction I feel is pretty clear. A document is a single content instance, which means data, possibly with presentational hints, behavior and functionality attached to it, but everything essentially only related to the content. An application on the other hand is user interface, with less connection to content and more connection to user interaction and handling of user input that is not content related. What this essentially means is that it handles I would call perishable interactions, that are not persistent in a content instance, which they would be in the document.

Document versus web page:
A web page is a document served from the web, where the web means any place accessible through the internet through any protocol.

Application versus web application:
Web applications are a subset of applications, with the added requirements that they are served from the web (as defined above), and that their functionality is dependent on server-client interaction within a single instance or multiple instances, creating a server-client feedback loop. For example, a Java applet served from the web, that runs in your client and saves a local highscore list is an application but not a web application since it is self-contained on the client, while a Flash game loading level data from the web, or even just uploading the highscores and displaying the highscore list, is a web application. Something as simple as a single HTML document with a form field where reaction on user input leads to serving of a new HTML document with results depending on what is entered into the field, is a basic web application. 

Web page versus web application:
A web page may be a part of a web application - an instance in a sequence depending on previous client-server interaction. A web application may never be a single web document, however, since a document is a single content instance. Thus, if it has client-server interaction within a single instance, it is a web application. In fact, if it has any perishable user interaction/user interface affecting behaviors/functionality that is not restricted to content (e.g. opening another document in a new window) it is no longer a simple web page, it is a web application.

My .02 Ç

// David, expecting being tied to a spit and slowly roasted over open flames...
David "liorean" Andersson

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