Reimagining Single-Page Applications

With Progressive Enhancement

What is the difference between a web page and a web application? Though we tend to identify documents with reading and applications with interaction, most web-based applications are of the blended variety: Users can consume information and perform tasks in the same place. Regardless, the way we approach building web applications usually dispenses with some of the simple virtues of the readable web.

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Single-page applications tend to take the form of runtimes, JavaScript executables deployed like popup shops into vacant <body> elements. They’re temporary, makeshift and not cURL-able: Their content is not really there without a script being executed. They’re also brittle and underperforming because, in service of architectural uniformity and convenience, they make all of their navigation, data handling and even the basic display of content the responsibility of one thing: client-side JavaScript.

Recently, there’s been a move towards “isomorphic” (or “universal”) applications — applications that can run the same code on the client and the server, sending prerendered HTML from the server before delegating to client-side code. This approach (possible using Express as the server and React as the rendering engine, for instance) is a huge step towards a more performant and robust web application architecture.

But isomorphism is surely not the only way to go about progressive enhancement for single-page applications. I’m looking into something more flexible and with less configuration, a new philosophy that capitalizes on standard browser behavior and that can blend indexable, static prose with JavaScript-embellished interactivity, rather than just “handing off” to JavaScript.

This little exposition amounts to no more than the notion of doing things The Web Way™ with a few loosely confederated concepts and techniques, but I think you could take it and make it something special.

Lubov Cholakova

Lubov CholakovaLubov has been with DMXzone for 8 years now, contributing to the Content and Sales departments. She is bringing high quality content in the form of daily blog updates, reviews, tutorials, news, newsletters,update emails and extensions' manuals. If you have a product that needs publicity or any other questions about the entire DMXzone community, she is the one you can contact.

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