Single Page Applications (SPAs). Benefits and Drawbacks

Web applications have nearly supplanted traditional desktop programs. They are more convenient to use, are simple to update, and can be utilized in a variety of devices. In today’s world, we can construct two types of web applications: (1) Single-page application (SPA) and multi-page application (MPA). SPAs are thought to be more modern than MPAs.

Single-page applications are the next step in website and application development. Many firms, including Facebook, Gmail, Google Maps, Twitter, and Trello, are now migrating their legacy sites and applications to SPAs.

When picking between a single page application and a multi page application, keep your business goals in mind and how a certain development strategy might help them.

Let’s look at some well known SPA benefits and drawbacks, along with technical insights, to help you decide if this way of development is ideal for your company.

What is a Single Page Application (SPA)?

Traditional websites (or multi-page applications) have a typical homepage/index and a menu with links to subsequent pages. When a new link is clicked, a request to the server is issued to download a new HTML page is sent. The database is queried for data components, graphics, and other information, which is subsequently returned to the client-facing website, where the page is produced. This occurs for each unique page that a user accesses.

SPAs combine a mobile-like simple and seamless user experience with great performance and exceptional load speeds.

Consider Gmail, which is a classic example of a one page app. In Hangouts, you can compose a new email, switch to a draft, or send a message without leaving the page or loading another.

What about your Facebook timeline? You can scroll it indefinitely and it will keep displaying fresh posts. You can speak with someone, see who is online, or check your alerts — the page will not change. Multiple page applications

A single page application dynamically displays info to the user as they scroll through and interact with the site. This is made possible through JavaScript, which runs within the browser. Regardless of the activities done by the user during the session, once the page opens on the first visit, it does not have to wait for any subsequent content to download.

SPAs are created utilizing HTML, CSS, AJAX, and JavaScript frameworks like React, Vue, Angular, and Ember.

Single-page vs Multi-page Applications

Because multi-page applications (MPAs) are so common, we won’t go into detail about their benefits and drawbacks. Instead, let us examine the features of SPAs and compare them to those of MPAs. Let’s take a look at the main benefits of single-page applications:

1. Fast response to user actions. Because SPAs do not refresh the entire page but only the essential dynamic content, they significantly enhance the speed of a website. An SPA loads a short JSON file rather than a new web page to perform a user’s request. Even with caching and lazy loading, MFAs take longer than SPAs to retrieve fresh data from a server. Furthermore, because the page does not need to reload, processes involving many screens in SPAs are more streamlined than in traditional web applications.

2. High performance and stability. When done correctly, asynchronous requests can minimize server stress and demand less bandwidth. The main logic of a single-page application is typically entirely downloaded at the initial request, allowing most actions to be performed offline and providing a great solution for slow internet connections.

3. Fast development. The front end and back end of an SPA can be split during development, allowing two developers to work concurrently. Furthermore, modifying the front end has no effect on the back end, and vice versa.

4. User-friendly UX. SPAs offer customers a straightforward linear experience as well as an amazing interactive experience by utilizing parallax scrolling and wonderful transition effects to present the entire user iteration. Scrolling is continuous with SPAs, making them ideal for mobile users who have become accustomed to scrolling.

5. Data caching. Following the first request to the server, all relevant local data is kept in the cache, allowing users to work in an offline mode (e.g, GoogleDocs offline mode).

6. Desktop-like user experience. An SPA enables you to migrate on-premises apps to the web without affecting the UI or established workflow. This expedites web development while providing users with a high-quality, familiar experience.

7. Mobile-friendly. An SPA back end can be used to make a mobile app that looks and works the same as the web version of the app. Because an SPA is already designed as an application rather than a website, it does not require much modification. This significantly accelerates mobile development.

With these advantages, SPAs appear to be an excellent choice for any web-based project. They are, however, not flawless and necessitate an experienced development team as well as a clear vision of the app’s features. Let’s take a closer look at this technology’s disadvantages:

1. Lack of scalability. Regular web programs have functionality spread across multiple pages, and it’s simple to make modifications to individual pages. SPA components are meant to work together in a specific way, and any modifications to a widely used component may have a significant influence on the application as a whole. This is why SPAs must be designed with future changes in mind, allowing developers to account for them during the design process.

2. Issues with architectural changes. If you need to change the framework of a regular MPA, for example, you may easily accomplish it by modifying one page at a time. Such modest adjustments are not permitted in SPAs. The entire application would have to be ported to a new framework at once. As a result, when working on the architecture of an SPA, developers must exercise extraordinary caution.

3. Poor search engine optimization (SEO). Creating a website is merely the first step. It is vital to attract new clients who should be able to find it in some way. This is feasible with the right SEO settings. The optimization of a single page application differs from that of a standard app. When a web crawler hits an SPA, it just crawls the main page and ignores any other pages. Google is constantly upgrading its search algorithms to address this issue, and SEO firms have several workarounds in place to boost optimization. However, SPAs are not always appropriately indexed.

4. Requires JavaScript. To speed up loading, some people disable JavaScript in their browsers. Because SPAs rely entirely on JavaScript frameworks, they will not load in browsers that have JavaScript disabled.

5. Routing for in-app navigation. Because web browsers use routing for bookmarking and navigation, your SPA should support routing tools. There are numerous ways to accomplish this, including utilizing a hash in the URL or the HTML 5 pushState, with the latter being preferable. All prominent SPA frameworks provide native routing logic that handles all of the work for you. When creating routing, you must also account for any instances in which components are not loaded on time and ensure that these circumstances are worked out.

6. Memory leaks. Memory leaks in SPAs can be more severe than in multi-page applications because the page is never fully reloaded but remains for a long time, causing even fast machines to slow down. When an SPA is badly written, it might sometimes send more queries to the server than an MPA.

7. Security considerations. Memory leaks in SPAs can be more severe than in multi-page applications because the page is never fully reloaded but remains for a long time, causing even fast machines to slow down. When an SPA is badly written, it might sometimes send more queries to the server than an MPA.

To Sum Up

SPAs are one of the trendiest tech trends, but whether they are right for your firm depends on your specific goals and business procedures. As a result, if you require something more traditional, you can use multiple-page applications. If you want web apps that appear more like native apps, you should probably utilize PWA. They are comparable to single-page applications, but with the added benefit of being able to function offline and with a closer resemblance to desktop or mobile apps.

The best course of action is to simply analyze the merits and downsides of SPAs and then speak with a highly qualified development team (like us!) to select the next steps. Remember…it’s always a good idea to put yourself in the shoes of your target user to identify the type of experience you actually want to deliver to your website visitors.

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