What Is A Single Page Application

Single Page Application

What do Google Maps, Twitter, and Netflix have in common? They can all be accessed on desktop computers as single page applications. Read on to learn more about the uses and benefits of single page applications as well as to see some examples of SPAs in action.

Single Page Application Definition

A single page application (SPA) works within a web browser. Unlike multi-page applications, it does not require the web page to be reloaded as the user interacts with it.

Put another way, when using a SPA, you can navigate the information on a website in one page, without having to load a different webpage like you do when you access a traditional website.

SPAs provide a more focused and intuitive user experience, and have a number of other advances, as we will soon see.

SPAs provide a functionality comparable to that of mobile apps. But the term single page application applies only to web apps and website apps—not to mobile apps.

Single page applications are different from multipage applications, which load new pages for whenever the user clicks on a link on the page. They also differ from progressive web apps, which you can add to your device as a homepage app.

Benefits of Single Page Applications

Why do companies and other organizations use single page applications? And why do developers keep creating them? Because these apps are very useful. Take a look at their benefits to understand why.

What About the Limitations?

Single page applications have a lot going for them. But it’s important to know their limitations as well. Perhaps the main limitation of SPAs is that they require a lot of browser resources. When accessed on low-end devices, they may not always provide a fast and smooth user experience.

Also, SPAs are often built on JavaScript—on web development frameworks like Angular, for example. Not all mobile devices or web browsers support JavaScript, which makes such apps inaccessible to certain users.

Last but not least, SPAs need to be developed with security in mind, since hackers could use SPAs to access the site that provides them—from the client side.

What Are Some Examples of Single Page Applications?

Single page applications are popular on the web because they are convenient for users. Many of the web apps you use daily are SPAs.

When you access Google Maps within your desktop web browser, you are using a SPA. Google Maps provides maps and location information within the same page without requiring page reloads whenever you search for a new address, explore a particular area, or change the map view.

Other single page applications include Twitter, Facebook, and other online websites for desktop. These are advanced social networks with lots of content and features, but all the information is presented within a single page and updated without page reloads.

The Bottom Line

Single page apps are useful when you want to build a web app that works much like a mobile one. Since they cache data effectively, they provide a fast and smooth user experience. And don’t let their name mislead you—single page apps can be as complex as you need to make them while remaining focused and easy to use.

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