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Sep 20

MPA or SPA? Which one should you choose?

Old desktop applications are pushed far to the corner by web applications. Web-based applications are convenient to use, accessible from multiple devices, and are easy to upgrade. Demand for complex apps which are mobile-friendly is on the rise. Those of you who are familiar with web app development must be knowing the two primary web design types: Single Page Application (SPA) and Multi Page Application (MPA).

The first stone laid in the development of web applications is to choose between the design models. Decision must be based on the content-first approach wherein the application content is given highest importance as compared to other related aspects. Content decides whether the user will use the application or not which brings us to the next aspect- the nature of the content you wish to present and that which the user wants the most.

Multipage applications

Workings of MPA follow a traditional pattern where every change is resubmitted or is displayed as a fresh page from the server. Given the nature of these applications, they are bigger in size to accommodate their functionality. Magnanimity of the content adds complexity to the application giving it multiple layers of UI. Trespassing the complexity is AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript And XML) introduced in the early 2000s, which made it possible to refresh only a part of the website and not the whole page on resubmitting. Although it greatly improved the user experience, it added a layer of complexity to the page. The development of MPA is complicated as compared to the direct approach of SPA.

MPA strength

  • MPA approach is best suited for those sites which are designed as a visual map. Multilevel menu navigations are central in traditional MPA.
  • SEO management is efficient because different keywords can be optimized in the format of one keyword per application.

MPA weakness

  • MPA lacks the same back-end for mobile applications.
  • Development of MPA is complex. Frameworks are necessary for either the server or client. Time taken for the development of the application is thus longer.
  • Back and front-end are tightly intertwined. 

Single page applications

A decade after the introduction of MPA, a new pattern called the SPA emerged. SPA is the fruit of the amalgamation of MPA and AJAX; here, on the server, only the shell page is generated while the UI is contributed by JavaScript code of the browser. Requests and data are marked as separate entities and pages are directly rendered to the browser which is made possible by MVVM JavaScript framework like KnockoutJS and AngularJS.

In other words, SPA is an application type which is embedded in the browser and removes the need to load while in use. Applications which are built on SPA that are in daily use are GitHub, Google Maps, Gmail, and Facebook. SPA works primarily by mimicking a natural environment to fulfill the needs of a UX in a browser. As a result, there is virtually zero downtime. Single pages are preferable because the user remains on one web space and content presented is simplified. Two aspects which need improvement in SPA are guidance and tooling. While tooling has definitely improved, it is still beyond the scope of understanding for a beginner. Guidance is the need of the hour because SPA has spoilt developers with choice and they can’t decide on where to start.

SPA Strength

  • Core strength of SPA is in its 3R’s- reach, responsive UX, and reducing round-trip
  • Most resources on SPA are loaded only once in the course of the application run time. Back and forth transmission is limited to data only.
  • Debugging SPA can easily be accomplished on frequently used web browsers like Chrome because networks can be monitored, page elements and associated data can be investigated.
  • Creating mobile applications becomes easy because the user can now reuse a back-end code to create both a web as well as a mobile application.

SPA weakness

  • A probable leak of memory in JavaScript can significantly retard the operations
  • Unlike MPA approach, SPA is less secure because of the XSS (Cross-Site Scripting) client scripts can be implemented into the other user applications.
  • SEO optimizations are hard but not impossible.

SPA or MPA

SPA is better than MPA in terms of faster page loading, enhanced user experience, simplified development of mobile applications, and eliminating the need to write codes for page rendering on server. At the same time MPA is superior than SPA in terms of simplicity of UI code, easier SEO optimization, and low framework to be loaded to the client. So choosing between the two is solely based on the ultimate goal of the application. It is logical to develop an MPA if the site is an online retail store. If you feel that the site is better used as a SPA, it is your

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