Basic Structure Of A Web App/Website

A website or a web app is usually made up of the following 3 web components:

These components are arranged as shown in the following diagram.

Structure Of A Web App
Location of the web app components on the internet

Web App Back-End component

All the core logic of a web app or website is usually implemented in the web app’s back-end component. This includes all the algorithms of the web app, code to perform any storing and retrieval of data from the database, url based route handling etc. All these code forms the back-end of a web app or website and runs on a specialized computer called the web server.

Backend component of the above image

The code for back-end programming can be written using several different programming languages such as PHP, Python, Java, Javascript, Ruby etc. Each of these programming languages comes with their own advantages and disadvantages like for example choosing a language like Python comes with the great benefit of having several readily available libraries useful for data crunching activities, however they can be relatively slow compared to other programming languages. So which backend programming language to choose largely depends on the type of functionalities required for the particular web app that is going to be developed.

Web App Front-End Component

All the visual and interactive elements of a web app or website comes under the Web app’s front-end component. Whenever the user of a web app or website visits the website, he will only see and interact with the web app’s front-end component. So as far as he is concerned, a web app for him is usually just the front-end component. It is what he sees and interacts with in his web browser.

Front end component of the above image

However, these front-end components will not usually store all the relevant data of a web page within itself but instead, will query for them by sending requests to the web app’s back-end component that was discussed earlier. These requests are usually sent using the HTTP protocol.

The programming languages used to write web app’s front end component includes HTML, CSS & Javascript. Among these, HTML is a markup language that a web browser will use to interpret what HTML components needs to be drawn on the browser screen to represent the website. CSS is a styling language used to customize the style (like change the color, size, background color etc.) of these HTML components. Finally Javascript is a programming language that can be used to add interactive functionalities to these HTML components.

With the help of these 3 programming languages, your front end should be highly interactive and user friendly for any non technical person to start using your web app.

Database component

A database is a specialized software used to store and retrieve data efficiently on a computer or a server. The database can sit in a web server along side the server software or can be present in its own seperate dedicated database server.

Database component

Databases are usually used in a web app (or website) to store all relevant data of that web app such as user data, session data, web app specific data etc. There are many different forms of databases available such as relational databases, NoSQL databases, Document Oriented databases, Graph databases etc. Each of these variants of databases have certain unique features that are useful in certain specific situations. The most common database type used in web apps are usually relational databases such as MySQL, PostgreSQL. However Document Oriented databases such as MongoDB are also used frequently.

So these 3 components forms the fundamental elements of a web application. Of course there can be more than these 3 components required as your web app continues to grow. You may need to add multiple servers, load balancers to manage higher traffic, caching mechanisms etc. We will discuss more on these modules further in future articles, but having the knowledge of above three fundamental components of a web app should give you the best start to learn and start working on the development of your first web application.

Do comment below if you liked the article or if you have any questions regarding the above topic and I will be happy to answer your questions. Until then, happy learning! 🙂

By Amar Nath

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