What Is Difference Between Web and Application Server?

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Angela Bailey

When it comes to understanding the difference between a web server and an application server, it’s important to grasp the fundamental concepts of both. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they serve distinct purposes in the world of web development.

What is a Web Server?

A web server is a software program that handles HTTP requests from clients, such as web browsers, and delivers web pages as responses. It is responsible for storing, processing, and transmitting static files like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, images, and more. The primary function of a web server is to serve these files to users upon request.

Key characteristics of a web server:

  • Handles HTTP requests: A web server receives and processes HTTP requests from clients.
  • Serves static content: It delivers static files like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, images, etc.
  • No business logic: A web server does not execute business logic or process dynamic content.

What is an Application Server?

An application server, on the other hand, provides an environment for running dynamic applications. It serves as a platform that enables developers to deploy and manage software applications. Unlike a web server that primarily handles static content delivery, an application server executes business logic and dynamically generates responses based on user input or data retrieval from databases.

Main features of an application server:

  • Supports dynamic content: An application server processes dynamic content and generates responses accordingly.
  • Maintains state: It manages session data and maintains stateful interactions with clients.
  • Executes business logic: An application server runs the business logic of an application, including data processing, calculations, and more.

Differences between Web Server and Application Server:

1. Functionality:

A web server primarily focuses on delivering static content to clients.

It handles HTTP requests and serves files like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, images, etc. An application server, on the other hand, executes dynamic applications by processing user input and generating responses based on business logic.

2. Content Generation:

A web server generates static content that remains the same for all users.

It does not process user input or interact with databases directly. In contrast, an application server generates dynamic content by executing business logic and interacting with databases or external systems to generate personalized responses.

3. Business Logic Execution:

An application server is responsible for executing complex business logic associated with an application.

It performs calculations, processes data, and handles various operations specific to the functioning of the application. A web server does not execute any business logic; it only serves static files to clients.

Conclusion

In summary, while both web servers and application servers play important roles in serving web applications, they serve different purposes. A web server focuses on delivering static content to users’ browsers, while an application server executes dynamic applications by processing user input and generating personalized responses based on business logic. Understanding these differences is crucial for developers when choosing the appropriate infrastructure for their projects.

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