Single page application was born for feeding engagements and unique user experiences. It is renowned as a new surge of mobile app development trends globally.
In early 2015, it was a significant period that the concept of single-page app (SPA) changed the way developers pondering about developing web-based solutions. Accordingly, the single page application is definitely not implying a mobile app. This concept has popularly applied to execute a website or web application.
Currently, both users and dedicated developers enjoy the SPA benefit. Evidently, several popular web solutions or web-based SaaS are developed as a single page application, including YouTube, Gmail, Twitter, and more. In the user context, single page applications offer better user experiences and boost the brand name to product owners. Unfortunately, the Emprise of single page applications also induces challenges in terms of management.
In this article, we indicated several aspects surrounding single page applications, which consist of both beneficial and adverse sides.
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SPA single page application
In a programming context, Single page application or SPA refers to a concept of web application development, which offers mobile-like experiences to a user when browsing a web-based app. In fact, in the era of smartphone booming, product owners and programmers have a high incentive to choose SPA instead of traditional web pages.
Single page app – new programming trend
Generally, Single page app specifies an application having only one page to execute all the feature sets. Additionally, all elements within the web application architecture would be loaded at one time. It allows website stability and deters reload in a switch to other features.
Before the birth of the SPA single page application, web development developers followed the model view controller (MVP). With MVP, UI design is divided into three parts:
- The model element implied a dynamic data structure, managing the rule and logic of the web application
- The view element implied the optical part of a web application.
- The controller element covers the commanding execution in the model.
A web application developed, following MVP, is commonly executed by sending a request to servers, which generates a response to clients. Results sending back to users would be the full content of a website, including HTML, CSS, JS (The Server-side rendering – SSR). In other words, all the tasks have been done on the server.
Unfortunately, the development of web applications adds complexity, which challenges the server performance in a conventional way. SSR becomes inefficient to catch the innovation of user experience. In this case, web programmers started to separate the role of the client-side and the server-side. Accordingly, they applied some standard libraries to execute the client-side. Initially, jQuery and jQuery plugins were leverage. However, they are outdated rapidly due to the steady increase in complex execution on the client-side.
As a result, Single page application was born to disrupt the web app development to boost the role of front-end on the client-side, while reducing the burden of back-end development. Many developers believed that SPA supported the completed separation between the back-end and front-end. Instead of solely focusing on UI, UX, front-end developers concern with design patterns, software architectures, and data structures.
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Single page application examples
One of the most popular SPAs currently running is Gmail. Gmail enjoys a clear and user-friendly interface, reached the top email providers, capturing the largest number of active accounts.
The above links describe 4 different features of Gmail, but only execute on one page: https://mail.google.com/mail/. Obviously, each functionality appears with district UI design. Not only Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, and some other social media platforms are also SPA.
Single page application vs. multi page application
As mentioned above, the birth of a single web application changed the mindset of web development. Two significant considerations made Single page app standing out from conventional apps:
- Single page applications have a clear front end and back end
- Single page application strengthens the front-end execution
What are spa benefits over multi page app
1. Clear flow and logic with spa single page application
Conventional web application development limits the separation of the front end and back end. For instance, using Laravel Framework, developers could code PHP for the view element. In single page application development, team leaders have to separate into two parts.
|MVP model||SPA model|
|Only one part for both front end and back end||2 different teams: one for front-end development and another for back-end development.|
|No clear data transferring process: all tasks executing in the server.||Back-end and front-end exchange data by Restful API (data format: JSON)|
In principle, there are multiple SPA benefits for both users and programmers leveraging SPA single page application:
- Improve performance and user experiences execution by offering the consistency
- Reduce development time (by parallel development process between front end and back end)
- Reduce spending by lower costs for infrastructure.
- Boost the responsiveness of the app running on multi-devices, including mobile, desktop, or tablet.
2. SPA single page application gives strong front-end execution
SPA enables the front-end part to execute entirely UI render and Ui switching. It reduces tasks for the back-end that only data processing effects in this part. On the other hand, the improvement in the front-end raises the flexibility of web development. SPA built in a typical front-end could run smoothly when applying other back-end elements built from different programming languages and frameworks.
In SPA, several fundamental features remain unchanged in the back-end, but it still displays different UI in the front-end. For example, when you log in, sign in, or placing orders, you can experience the app interfaces changed visually. Besides, your data is still stable after proceeding. Accordingly, SPA could create better user experiences while keeping the app flow consistent and constant.
Angular, React, and Vue refers to the popular framework used in SPA development, according to experienced web developers. They contain pre-built software development architecture for SPA, providing essential component sets to reduce coding time. Besides, the strong SPA community benefits programmers and software development companies by inheriting templates, guides, libraries, elements, and more contributed from communities.
How Single page application works
In terms of Single page application execution process, SPA has only one page to receive all user requests for routing. In practice, SPA developers might not have in-depth knowledge about MVC or MV-VM. But they could use SPA frameworks then follow its architectures.
Single page application architecture diagram
There are several contents repeating in websites. Some of these elements would remain when the user navigates the web application, while others put in the fix position (search box, banner, etc.). Single page application optimizes those repeating elements to reduce web pages from reloading. SPA eliminates interruptions when the user experiences continuous pages with few delays or long-load time.
Expressly, we will describe how websites and servers work when the web UI displays a picture. According to the MVC model, a multi-page application server would prepare HTML for all elements of this picture, then sending to the user browser. Instead, single page application would send one-by-one elements of the UI to the client-side. After that, a guide of elements connection would be sent to let the client-side know how to render the complete picture.
No matter what single page application or a multi page application, users would see the same UI. The difference is the speed would be improved when users click on an element in the UI. When changing some parts of the pictures, the multi-page app will send completely different pictures from the server that the webpage would be reloading. SPA will only change some parts and keep the remaining, speeding up the whole process.
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Essential note when starting with Single page application
- Single Web application is not capable for developers, who lack experience with front-end: if you are not familiar with HTML, CSS, JS, or AJAX, let’s other programmers do SPA for you.
- In some ways, SPA is not an ideal choice for improving SEO strategies. In fact, SPA renders content in client-site, deterring g search engine craw and read.
- There would be several technology challenges occur, including verification, lazy load, or animation loading
- What are projects suitable to develop as a SPA: project needs to maintain and long-term development plan, SaaS, UX focused projects.
In conclusion: in this decade, SPAs are the chosen solution of many companies that we are confident about the future development of SPA. In web application development, SPA holds its own position to become the application trend further.