What are web applications?
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In their simpliest form, web applications are applications (programs) that are accessed over the web. This covers lots of territories and includes a multitude of examples and applications.
A more specific definition of web applications, focusing on data, is provided by /www.acunetix.com:
Web applications are ... computer programs allowing website visitors to submit and retrieve data to/from a database over the Internet using their preferred web browser.
This focus on data and databases allows you to store information on the web application providing backup and easy access from anywhere on the web. Some web applications are free, others, shareware (pay a small fee), or others you need to purchase.
Due to the broad nature of the definitions of web applications, they can include things like social networking (Facebook, etc.) or specific applications that provide programs that you do not need to have on your computer (Google docs.)
Web applications provides functionality to the user without having to download and install software. They can also be updated quickly and the updates do not have to be broadcast to individual computers.
Web applications require only Internet access and a web browser!