When it comes to developing an application, there are more than a few styles and frameworks available for developers, each of which offers its own unique set of advantages. One of these options is the single page application, which can provide a few exclusive advantages.

In recent years, traditional Web applications have become the go-to for developers, enabling users to navigate different pages and peruse through content. SPAs, however, should not be short changed.

Although the name implies a simpler, singular platform without page separations, this does not mean these applications are any less robust or are incapable of supporting complex user needs, particularly in the enterprise sector. In fact, SPAs are becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason.

Let’s examine SPAs, what these applications actually consist of and what advantages this style can offer over traditional Web applications.

What’s a SPA?

As opposed to a regular Web application, where all content is hosted and presented in a specific, traditional manner that we as users are used to, SPAs operate a little differently.

Within a traditional Web app, content is separated into different pages, and users seeking certain items or information can simply navigate to the page dedicated to that category. A SPA doesn’t rely on separate pages, and instead loads the initial content on a single page and loads additional content according to user interaction. Development expert John Papa noted that this puts the responsibility of presentation logic on the organization that owns the application.

“The server plays no part in determining what the application does with a SPA. That’s the client’s job. It’s the client that composes application pages out of HTML templates (HTML fragments) and data, both of which it downloads on-demand asynchronously as it needs them”.

Ward Bell, Development expert

In this way, the server is not involved in UI aspects of the application, and content is loaded from client-created, HTML-based pages according to specific user interactions. In this way, “single page” refers to the starting point of the application, or as Papa put it, “the first part of the app that gets the ball rolling.”

What makes SPAs beneficial?

There are several advantages to the SPA approach, many of which are related to a better experience for the end user. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages SPAs can offer:

  • Limited server interaction: Traditional Web applications are completely tied to their interactions with the server. SPAs, on the other hand, limit their interaction with the server, which provides a more streamlined, fluid experience for the user.
  • Reduced stress on the server: Because SPAs shift the way content is loaded and accessed – via the client as opposed to the server – the stress load on the machines supporting the application is reduced. This not only offers better performance, but it also enables server loads to be utilized more efficiently and effectively.
  • Content loads quickly: This is perhaps one of the most attractive benefits of leveraging the SPA approach. Approximately 20 percent of users will abandon an application if pages take longer than 3 seconds to load. Even small improvements in speed can make a big difference – Mozilla saw 5 million more downloads of Firefox each month after speeding up its platform by only 2.2 seconds. Because content is assembled in a single page and only the most important, initial content is displayed, the page loads much faster and the application is quicker overall.
  • Only part of the page needs to be refreshed: One process that can considerably slow down an application is when an entire page needlessly needs to be refreshed. This means that all the content on that page – even portions that remain unchanged – must completely reload. With SPAs, however, only part of the page needs to be refreshed in order to reflect changes or display new content. This contributes to the applications’ speed.
  • Desktop appearance in all screens: Now that applications are being accessed from a range of different devices, it’s important for developers to ensure a consistent feel, no matter how big or small a user’s screen is. SPAs are considerably beneficial here, not reloading allows for the permanence effect that users expect of a desktop application, traditional web apps cannot achieve that.
  • Developers can reuse code: SPAs also streamline the creation process for developers as this style enables teams to reuse sections of code, preventing them from having to start from scratch. REST endpoints, for example, are general purpose and can therefore be utilized on several different SPAs.

Thanks to the array of advantages this type of application offers, more teams are using this style to support a range of different development projects. To find out more about single page applications and the benefits they can offer for your application initiative, contact Making Sense today.