We always wondered why programmers fall in love with the Single Page Applications (SPA)? Is it the ease & the speed of development or anything else? Most of the programmers have shifted their ways of building web apps to SPAs rather than the traditional Multi-Page Applications (MPA). But wait, there is always another side of the story that is left to be heard. Yes, many programmers still love the traditional approach of MPA. Well, we are curious to find out Which is better, SPA or MPA. Are you? If yes, read this blog and choose between SPA vs. MPA for your web application.
One modern and another traditional, Single Page Applications & Multi-Page Applications respectively have unwittingly replaced the old desktop applications. But the battle between single-page apps vs. multiple-page web apps still has no clear winner. Hence, we decided to discuss both the approaches in detail and help readers to decide the winner. Keep reading and find out diverse facets and interesting facts about both the web app development approaches.
Let’s start with the basics,
What is a Single Page App?
Single Page App is a web app that doesn’t require a page reload and functions inside a browser, hence fast loading and less time consumption. In SPA, everything is fit into one HTML page, and when the user interacts with the app, only a few required portions of the web app get updated, keeping the rest the same. Hence we can say the page dynamically gets updated every time when a query is initiated.
So when you make a quick shift from one page to another, you do not have to download dozens of things. Confused? Turn around and check your Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, GitHub, Netflix, and even your Google Docs. In these apps, you can easily scroll down, check the news feed without making the page reload for every new request.
What is a Multi-Page App?
The Multi-Page app is a traditional way of web app development, in which queries are sent to the server, and the response is received in the form of a new page. For each query, the page reloads, and the content is updated.
The size of MPA is large as compared to the SPA because it needs to transfer data continuously between a browser and the server. But, with the AJAX technology, it has been made possible to resolve this large size issue. Using AJAX for MPA, it is possible to load small chunks of data of a web app without reloading the whole page.
However, the execution of AJAX takes a lot of time and requires more effort as compared to SPA. The web app structure is complex. For reference, you may check web apps like Amazon and eBay.
There are perks and pitfalls of both single-page app development and multi-page app development. So, let’s find out them in detail.
Advantages of Single Page Apps:
If you are thinking of investing in only one product, then the SPA approach for web app development is ideal for you. The reason is, it saves you a lot on the hardware cost, saves time, and requires minimal effort.
Exceptional Speed and Responsiveness:
The server doesn’t need to reload the entire HTML, CSS and other scripts on every query made during the interaction. Once the files are loaded, only a few required data is updated on each query.
Only a part of the content gets updated each time; the load on the server is quite less. And hence, every time you click on a call to action, the data process faster, and the response is obtained in minimum time.
Therefore building Single page applications is a perfect choice for web applications having a pool of images. The images get loaded at once, and the text required on a query gets refreshed & displayed at once.
This speed of response holds the customer on to the site; otherwise, 20% of them will abandon the website if it takes 3 seconds or more to load. It was quite surprising that Walmart observed that every 100 ms decrease in the loading time results in a 1% rise in the incremental revenue. Well, who would ever want to miss this spike in the web app traffic?
Building a SPA is like a blessing in disguise for the developers. The reason being, you can reuse the same backend code for native and web app development. This is one of the major differences between the single-page app and a multi-page app.
Offline support and caching:
Caching of data indeed speeds up the process. Once the request is sent to the server, the response is stored effectively and used as & when required. SPA is powerful in caching the local storage at the very first request and functions seamlessly even if the data connection is lost. So, you can wait till your connection comes back, and the local synchronization will keep you engaged over the app.
Potential to separate data and UI:
One of the greatest advantages of building a SPA is its ability to separate data and UI. This further assists in performing streamline testing of the app during the development stages. The separation makes it possible for you to handle all the future integrations and changes and other changes in the way data enters the SPA framework.
Effortless Chrome Debugging:
When we say effortless, then yes, we mean it. It is so much easier to debug SPA with Chrome. The reason being, the whole code is visible at once, because they are located on a single page. Additionally, these apps are developed on frameworks using Chrome’s own development tools like React developer tools, AngularJS Batarang, and Vue.js dev tools.
What more you need if you can change the frontend by rewriting the code without affecting the server (barring some static resource files)? Yes, the SPA offers a flexible UI feature that allows you to rewrite the frontend code.
If you already have a mobile app in place, then you can use the same API for SPA web application development. Hence, the development of native to the web apps and vice versa becomes comparatively easier without any major alterations.
Disadvantages of Single Page Apps:
No doubt, SPA development is a powerful way of app development, but there are areas where SPA falls short. Let’s find out which they are.
Needless to say, it is the need of the hour to optimize the web app for search engines. It is difficult for the search engine bots to crawl the dynamic content of the SPA. And because of this, it is difficult to index the SPA.
Along with this, SPAs have limited semantic kernel, which makes it difficult to stuff keywords in a SPA, and hence, it has poor SEO. To overcome this issue, you can frame content, meta descriptions, tags, etc. that are relevant and confirm high ranking.
Event listeners or event handlers are the main reason behind the loss of available memory. An event is initiated by the software on every click, and the event listeners receive a notification. Hence, you need to be very careful right at the development stage; otherwise, this may lead to a significant slowdown of the app or drain the user’s device battery completely.
As compared to multi-page apps, SPA is more vulnerable to hackers’ attacks. The reason being the use of cross-site scripting (XSS). The attacker can easily insert their code on the client-side and perform malicious actions.
However, you can combat the Cross-Site Scripting by securing the data endpoints and separating the JS into distinct pieces.
Poor app scalability:
Single-page applications are the least scalable. Because everything is stuffed in a single page. So, if you wish to add more content, it is difficult to create new pages. This is completely opposite to the MPA approach, where you can create new pages and split it across the app. With SPA, if you try to stuff more into the single page, then the app loading time will increase gradually.
The back and forward buttons functionality in a SPA is quite different and unexpected. If you click on the back button, then instead of landing you up in the prior stage, it actually lands you up on the previous page. The scroll position is also lost, and you end up in a completely different part of the page. Some SPAs have a bottleneck that it can not open a link in a new tab, refresh a page, or bookmark it.
However, you can fix this issue using the HTML5 History API that is supported in the majority of JS frameworks.
Advantages of Multi-page Applications:
The strengths of the multi-page applications are as follows.
On running down a comparison between single-page applications vs. multi-page applications in terms of SEO, then MPA definitely holds a higher spot. MPA has the advantage of splitting the content across pages and thereby stuffing more high-relevance keywords into the structure. This helps in crawling and thus increases the chances of ranking high on the search engines.
One of the prime advantages of building MPA is that you can add as many pages as you want in an application. You can collect and put as much information as you want on various pages without damaging the user experience. Hence, if you are planning to go for an extensive multi-feature app, then you should go for the MPA approach.
It is easy to create robust, few level menu navigations using MPA. However, if you have a complex application architecture, then remember how you want the users to navigate using browser navigation elements.
MPA gives you the freedom to create as many pages as you want and link them as per your convenience.
MPAs have better security features and integrity of data.
Disadvantages of MPA:
There are some considerable disadvantages of MPA as below:
Slow Speed and Performance issues:
With the MPA approach of web development, the entire page gets reloaded every time when a request is made to the server. This puts a lot of load on the server, which affects the speed and the performance of the app.
Longer development time:
As compared to SPAs, MPAs take a longer time for app development. The reason being, the developers have to write the backend code from scratch for every page. Additionally, the backend and frontend are tightly coupled, so it is difficult to interact with them individually.
Maintenance and updates:
You always have to maintain and update the web app regularly. But when it is about handling complex and large web apps, things become a little more difficult.
We suppose that you have had enough information on a single page app vs. multi-page app comparison. However, for choosing between the two, consider the following things.
Your intention behind building a web app;
The information you want to share across to the users through the app;
How you wish your web app to look and function;
How frequent updates does your content require in order to deliver the best to the users?
Say, if you wish to develop a large scale application like Amazon, then the MPa approach sounds logical. On the other hand, if you are tight on the budget, and the app idea doesn’t require heavy loading, then you should go for the SPA approach. The SPA approach is excellent for SaaS platforms, social networks, and closed communities.
We have listed down all the considerable points which will help you in making the final decision. For any queries regarding app development, you can always contact us. We have an experienced team of developers who will be happy to guide you through the journey.
Key Takeaway: Sooner or later, everyone will shift towards Single Page Web Application development because it offers a lot of advantages.