Gartner Research

Modern Web App Architecture

Published: 29 November 2016

ID: G00317248

Analyst(s): Danny Brian , Kirk Knoernschild


Web apps can provide rich user experiences that mimic mobile apps, but not by using traditional web app architecture. Modern web apps require that technical professionals who architect and develop applications learn new patterns that treat the modern web browser as a full-blown application runtime.

Table Of Contents


  • The Modern Web App Enables Better Software Design
    • Apps Are Not Just for Mobile
    • Apps Drive Modern Web Architecture
    • Web Technologies Can Be Used to Develop "Real" Apps
    • Modern Web Apps Exhibit Certain Characteristics
    • Examples of Modern Web Apps
  • Traditional Web Application Architecture Puts Most Complexity at the Server
    • Server-Side Logic to Enable Dynamic Content
    • Template-Driven Functionality
    • Synchronous and Tightly Coupled
    • Data Models as the Building Blocks
    • Mobile UX as a Challenge for Web Apps
  • Modern Web Apps Require Modern Web Browsers
    • Recent Browser Advances
    • HTML5 and CSS3 Patterns
  • Modern Web App Architecture Rises to the Challenge
    • Stand-Alone Design Stretches Traditional Developer Skills
    • An App Lives on the Client Runtime
    • Service Orientation Yields True Decoupling
    • JavaScript Frameworks and Design Patterns Are Not Optional
    • CSS Libraries and Frameworks Are Not Optional
    • Event-Driven Functionality Simplifies and Scales
    • Support for Legacy Browsers
  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses


  • Foster a Culture That Is Conducive to Purposeful Web App Design
  • Regard the Browser as a Full-Blown Application Runtime
  • Gain Serious JavaScript and CSS Expertise
  • Use Robust JavaScript and CSS Frameworks
  • Build, Use and Manage Web APIs
  • Build Modular Client-Side Code

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