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Web Application Architecture – Working Models & Types

By: Taru M. Taru M.
10 Aug, 2022

User experience is essential for any digital application, and architecture plays a crucial role in shaping that experience. A well-designed architecture can make all the difference in how users interact with your app and how well it performs. Web application architecture provides a blueprint for the application and ensures that all the components work together seamlessly. Additionally, architecture can improve performance and security and make the application more scalable.

Creating a successful digital architecture requires an in-depth understanding of users, their needs, and behaviors. It’s also essential to have a solid grasp of the latest technologies and trends. With that knowledge, you can create an architecture that meets users’ needs and sets your application apart from the competition.

In this blog, we’ll see the types and layers of web applications and the various models of web application architecture. This information will help you better specify requirements for your future project and coordinate with a web development company.

What is a Web Application Architecture

A web app architecture is an organizational structure behind a website or web app. It defines how the different app pieces fit together and how they work together. Well-designed web application architecture ensures that the other parts of the site work together smoothly and that users can easily find what they need. The common elements include a front-end interface, a back-end database, and an application server. When users visit the site, the front-end interface is what they see. The back-end database stores all the site’s data. The application server handles communication between the front and back end.

The specific web app architecture will depend on its goals and the needs of its users. But a well-designed modern web application architecture is always essential for any website or app that wants success. Web Application Architecture has evolved significantly over the years, from simple client-server applications to more complex, distributed systems. In the early days of web development, most applications were built using the client-server model. However, web applications have become more complex and outgrown the simple client-server model.

How Web Application architecture works

A web application, broadly, comprises three parts: the client, the server, and the database.

  • The client is the web browser that you use to access the application.
  • The server is the application that runs on the web server and serves the client’s requests.
  • The database is where the data is stored.

Components of web architecture: Client, Server, and Database

The client makes requests to the server, which processes the requests and sends back responses, and it also updates the user interface based on the answers. The client and server communication is usually done using the HTTPS protocol. Then, the server processes the requests, gets the data from the database, and sends the data back to the client as a response. The communication between the server and the database is typically done using SQL. The database stores the data and organizes it into tables. All tables are connected by relationships that fetch the data from the database.

The client and the server communicate with each other over the network. The network can be the internet or a local area network. A web application generally has two types of components: UI/UX and structural.

  • UI/UX components of web app architecture are responsible for the look and feel of the application. They
    include the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript that make up the user interface.
  • Structural components of web app architecture are responsible for the underlying functionality of the application. They include the server component, which handles communication with the database, and the client component, which handles communication with the user.

Types of Architectural Patterns commonly used in Web Applications

There are many different types of architecture frameworks for web applications. The most popular ones are the Model-View-Controller (MVC) framework, the Model-View-Presenter (MVP) framework, and the Model-View-View-Model (MVVM) framework.

Model View Controller (MVC)

Model View Controller diagram

The MVC web app architecture is a way of organizing your code that keeps the business logic separate from the presentation layer, making your code more modular and easier to maintain. It’s also trendy because it is easy to learn and use.

One of the most significant benefits of MVC is that it makes development and debugging easier. With MVC, you can more easily identify and fix errors in your code. Additionally, MVC allows you to reuse code more effectively, saving you time and effort in the development process. Another benefit of MVC is that it can improve performance. MVC frameworks are designed to be lightweight, so they can run more quickly and efficiently.

Some of the frameworks based on MVC:

  • Laravel
  • ASP.NET
  • Ruby on Rails

Model View View Model (MVVM)

Model View View Model diagram

Model View View Model is one of the most famous architecture frameworks for web applications because it’s perfect for applications that need to display data clearly and concisely. MVVM is based on the Model-View-Controller (MVC) framework but has a few key differences. The most notable difference is that MVVM uses a tired architecture, so the ViewModel (the class representing the data) is separate from the View (the class representing the UI). The separation makes it easier to maintain and test your code.

Another key difference is that MVVM uses data binding, which allows you to automatically update the UI when the data changes. It’s a huge time-saver, making your code much more readable.

Javascript frameworks built on the MVVM architecture pattern:

Model View Presenter (MVP)

Model View Presenter diagram

The Model View Presenter (MVP) is a software design pattern used to improve the readability and testability of software code. The MVP pattern is an evolution of the MVC pattern initially developed for use in Smalltalk-based applications. The MVP pattern is based on the principle that the presenter should be responsible for handling the user interface (view) events and updating the model. The separation of concerns makes it easier to unit test the presenter and model components. The MVP pattern is typically used in applications with many user interface (UI) elements.

Implementation of MVP depends on the application developer. Frameworks that support this model:

  • Laravel
  • CodeIgniter
  • Google Web Toolkit
  • Swing

Hierarchical Model View Controller

Hierarchical Model View Controller Diagram

Hierarchical Model View Controller (HMVC) is a great way to organize your code and improve the efficiency of your development process. Here’s a quick overview of how it works. The Hierarchical Model View Controller (HMVC) is an extension of the MVC design pattern that adds a level of abstraction. In an HMVC, the “controller” is further divided into a “super controller” and a “sub-controller.”

The super controller manages the overall flow of the application, while the sub-controller handles the specific tasks for a particular section of the application. The separation of responsibilities makes developing, testing, and maintaining your code even easier. HMVC can be used with the MVC design pattern, or it can be used as a standalone pattern. Either way, it’s a great way to keep your code organized and improve your development efficiency.

Frameworks in which developers can use this pattern:

  • Fuel PHP
  • PHP Pixie
  • CodeIgnitor

Layers of web application

A web application typically has four layers: presentation, data service, business logic, and data access.

Data Presentation Layers

Presentation layer (PL)

The presentation layer is the first layer that a user interacts with. PL layer handles the user interface and is responsible for displaying data to the user. A web application’s presentation layer (PL) is responsible for displaying information to the user. It is the layer the user interacts with, typically the most visible part of the application. The PL is often thought of as the “front end” of the web application, and it is typically implemented using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. However, it is essential to note that the PL is not limited to these technologies.

The presentation layer is vital because it is the layer the user sees and interacts with. It is typically the most visible part of the application and needs to be designed to be easy to use and understand.

Data service layer (DSL)

The data service layer is responsible for accessing and manipulating data. The DSL layer typically contains a database. A data service layer (DSL) is an application that provides centralized data access and manipulation layer for a web application. It is typically used to expose data from a back-end database to a front-end web application. A DSL can also provide a consistent interface to data from disparate sources, such as different databases or different web services. In this case, the DSL acts as an abstraction layer that allows the front-end application to access data from multiple back-end sources without knowing the details of each data source.

A data service layer typically consists of three components:

  • A data access layer provides a unified interface to the back-end data sources.
  • A data manipulation layer allows the front-end application to manipulate the data consistently.
  • A data repository stores the data in a format that can be accessed by the data access layer

Business logic layer (BLL)

The business logic layer is responsible for processing data and making business decisions. The BLL layer contains the code that implements the business rules. The logic is often specific to a particular business or application domain and is thus different from the application’s overall functionality. The BLL validates user input, retrieves data from the database, and performs any other domain-specific tasks. It is important to note that the BLL should not contain any code specific to a particular user interface or presentation layer. BLL layer should be thin, with most of the application’s logic residing in the service or domain model.

One advantage of using a BLL is that it can make your application more modular and easier to maintain. By separating the domain-specific logic from the rest of the code, you can more easily change the business logic without affecting the other parts of the application. Additionally, the separation can make it easier to test the business logic independently of the rest of the application.

Data access layer (DAL)

The data access layer is responsible for accessing data from the data service layer. The DAL layer typically contains code that interacts with the database. When web applications, the data access layer (DAL) is vital. This layer is responsible for interacting with the database, and it is essential for ensuring that data is adequately accessed and manipulated.

Models of web application architecture

Multiple tier architecture

Multiple Tier Architecture Flow

There are multiple ways to architect a web application. The most common is a two-tiered architecture consisting of a front-end server and a back-end database. The front-end server handles the web application interface and user interactions. It then sends requests to the back-end database for data. The back-end database stores the data and responds to requests from the front-end server.

A three-tiered architecture is similar to a two-tiered one but with an additional application server between the front-end server and the back-end database. The application server handles business logic and data processing.

A four-tiered architecture adds a fourth tier, the presentation server. The presentation server generates the user interface and sends requests to the application server. The application server then sends requests to the back-end database.

The most common type of web application architecture is the three-tiered architecture. It’s because it balances performance, scalability, and security well.

Microservice Architecture

Microservice architecture Abstract view

Microservice web application architecture is an emerging approach to web development that splits a web application into smaller, independent services. it has several benefits over traditional monolithic web applications. First, it allows for more granular control over each service, making it easier to develop and deploy changes. Second, it enables greater scalability since each service can be scaled independently. Third, microservices can be implemented in different languages, which can be a boon for developers who are more comfortable working in one language than another.

Serverless Architecture

Serverless archcitecture flow

Serverless web application architecture is a new way of building web applications that are entirely decoupled from traditional web servers. With serverless web application architecture, all the server-side logic is moved into small, independently executable pieces of code called “functions.” These functions are deployed and run in the cloud and can be invoked on demand without the need for a traditional web server. Using a serverless architecture has countless benefits, including reduced costs, improved scalability, and simplified development and deployment.

Multi-Tenant Architecture

Multi-tenant web application architecture is a web application architecture where a single application instance serves multiple customers. Each customer has an account and can access the application from any location and on any device. Multi-tenant web application architecture is often used for applications requiring a high degree of customization and personalization for each customer.

Multi-tenant web application architecture has several benefits, including improved resource utilization, reduced costs, and increased agility. When an application is multi-tenant, it means that only one instance of the application serves all customers. It can lead to improved resource utilization, as less server capacity is needed to support the same number of users. It can also lead to lower costs, as the customer is not required to purchase a license for every user. Additionally, multi-tenant architectures are more agile, as updates and changes can be made to the application without affecting other customers.

Peer-to-Peer architecture

A more decentralized peer-to-peer (P2P) approach has replaced the traditional client-server model of information sharing. P2P architecture is a network architecture in which each node (computer or another device) can act as a client and a server. This means that each node can request and share data with other nodes in the network without needing a central server.

P2P networks are often used for file sharing and other applications requiring distributed computing and collaborative effort. While P2P networks have many advantages, they also come with some risks. One of the biggest dangers of P2P is the potential for piracy. Because P2P networks make it easy to share files, they can also be used to illegally distribute copyrighted material.

REST

Rest Architecture

REST is a web architectural style that defines a set of constraints and principles for creating web services. REST is an acronym for Representational State Transfer. The main principle of REST is that stateless resources can be accessed and manipulated through a uniform interface. This interface is typically an HTTP interface but can also be implemented using other protocols such as SMTP and SOAP. REST is often used to build web services because it enables accessible communication between different systems. Additionally, REST can be used to create simple, lightweight web services that are easy to maintain and scale.

MACH architecture

MACH architecture

MACH is an acronym for Microservices, APIs, Cloud, and Headless. It’s a web application architecture becoming increasingly popular. Brands like Audi and Nike have moved their digital presence from a monolithic architecture to ship products faster and adopt an omnichannel marketing strategy.

Each service has its function and can be deployed independently. APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) are how different services communicate with each other. Cloud refers to using cloud services to deploy and manage the application. Headless means the application’s front end is decoupled from the back end. The front end can be developed separately from the back end, and the two can be deployed independently.

Complement with: 8 best headless commerce platforms

Types of Web Applications

There are three main types of web application architecture: monolithic, microservices, and serverless. Monolithic web application architectures are built as a single, large unit. They typically have a front-end web interface, a back-end database, and an application server to handle requests.

SPA – Single Page Applications

A SPA is a Single Page Application or single-page web app architecture that loads a single HTML page and then updates that page as the user navigates and interacts with the app. SPAs are typically built using JavaScript frameworks such as React, Angular, or Vue.js. These frameworks make it easy to create interactive user interfaces and allow the page to be updated without reloading the entire page.

SPAs have several advantages over traditional server-rendered web applications. SPAs are generally faster and more responsive since they only need to request the data that they need from the server instead of loading an entire page. SPAs are also more convenient for users since they can navigate around the app without having to reload the page. Finally, SPAs tend to be more SEO-friendly than traditional web applications since the entire page is not reloaded each time a user interacts with the app.

MPA – Multi Page Applications

In MPA, all the UI elements load whenever the pages are refreshed. As a result, this approach is not useful for web applications with too many interactive elements. But if you want to build a simple catalog or portfolio kind of website, then MPAs are an ideal way to go.

Progressive web app architecture

The progressive web app uses web technologies to deliver a native app-like experience to users. They are fast, reliable, and engaging, allowing users to use some features offline as well. While progressive web apps are not yet as widely adopted as native apps, they offer several advantages that make them a compelling option for many businesses.

Compliment with: Examples of PWA.

Widget Web App

Widget Web App is a great web app architecture to bring your website or web application to the next level. With Widget web app architecture, you can easily add engaging and interactive widgets to your web pages or web apps without having to code anything.

Widget is perfect for adding social media buttons, RSS feeds, weather widgets, contact forms, and more. Plus, it’s super easy to use – just drag and drop the widgets you want to add, and they’ll be up and running in no time.

How to Choose the Right Web Application Architecture

When developing a web application, one of the first decisions you need to make is to choose a web application architecture. There are a few options to choose from, each with its advantages and disadvantages. The most important thing is to select the architecture that best fits the specific needs of your application.

Here are a few things to consider when making your decision:

The size and scope of your application.

If you’re just building a simple website, then a traditional 3-tier architecture may be all you need. However, suppose you’re building a more complex application that will need to handle a lot of traffic and data. In that case, a more scalable architecture like microservices may be a better choice. If you’re unsure, starting with a 3-tier architecture is a good idea, and adding microservices as needed.

The technology stack you’re using.

The technology stack you’re using will play a big role in determining which architecture is best for you. A microservices architecture may be a good fit if you’re using a stack that is easy to scale, like the MEAN stack. On the other hand, a 3-tier architecture may be a better fit if you’re using a stack known for being difficult to scale, like the LAMP stack. A LAMP stack is a collection of software that enables a server to host websites and web applications. The acronym LAMP stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP.

Your development team’s expertise.

You’ll also need to consider your development team’s expertise when making your decision. If your team is more experienced with traditional 3-tier architectures, it may be better to stick with them. On the other hand, if your team has experience with more cutting-edge technologies, then a microservices architecture may be a better choice.

Your budget.

Finally, you’ll need to consider your budget when deciding on any part of web application development. Microservices web app architectures can be more expensive to develop and deploy, so a traditional 3-tier architecture may be a better choice if you’re working with a tight budget. You may consider a conventional 3-tier architecture with a very tight budget. A 3-tier architecture separates the database into three parts: the database server, the application server, and the client. It’s less expensive than using a single server for all functions and makes managing your system more accessible.

Conclusion

The latest architectures, like microservices, REST, and MACH, offer several benefits over traditional architectures. For example, microservice architectures are more resilient to failure because they are divided into smaller, more manageable parts. REST architectures are more efficient and scalable because they use less network bandwidth and can be easily scaled up or down. Finally, MACH architecture allows eCommerce brands to craft highly personalized UI/UX, connect various selling points and reduce time to market.

Taru M. Author
Taru M.

For over 18 years, Taru M. is a successful technology entrepreneur by profession and a tech enthusiast by spirit. She takes pride in offering expertise in her domain to business people's success across the globe. As a business woman and technology expert, she manages to keep her balance along with her family responsibilities. She did her masters in computers, and her work delivery shows the expertise of her education. Connect with her via Linkedin profile to know more about her exciting personality

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