What are single page applications(SPA)?

What are single page applications(SPA)?

Understanding the concept behind single-page applications.


The internet is made up of millions of websites powered with different technologies to perform their functions. The evolution of web technology over the years has led to the use of different approaches to building websites and web applications. Single-page applications have become popular in recent times and so are the tools used to build them.

This article will discuss:

  • What a single-page application is.

  • Advantages of single-page applications.

  • Disadvantages of single-page applications.

  • Tools to build single-page applications.

What are single-page applications?

A single-page application is a web application or website that doesn’t need to reload the page when in use in the browser. Have you clicked a link on a website and you noticed the page doesn’t reload while another content loads up almost immediately? That’s a single-page application. Examples include Facebook, Gmail, Google Maps, Github, etc.

The main selling point of SPA’s is having to rewrite a page with new data from the web server without reloading the page.

Advantages of single-page applications.

  1. Speed - Single-page applications do not have to reload to update a section on the page. Instead, only the required content is updated. This improves the speed of the web application or website and the overall user experience.

  2. Browsers offer debugging support - The advantages are not limited to users alone. Developers can debug their single-page application with the browser during production. Chrome offers some debugging tools. React developer tools to debug your React application. AngularJs Batarang for Angular.

    Firefox provides React developer tools for Firefox users.

  3. Caching - The application sends only one request to the server, stores all the data transmitted, and uses this data.

Single-page applications also have their drawbacks.

Disadvantages of single-page applications.

seo in single page applications.png

  1. SEO(Search Engine Optimization) - The URLs in a single-page application doesn’t really change as opposed to those in a traditional server-side rendered page. It’s hard to index these pages on the search engine since most pages cannot be scanned by the search bots/crawlers.

Therefore, if SEO is a primary concern for your application and you don’t want to bother with the URL setting, go for a framework that supports Server-side rendering. Lastly, make sure your app uses HTML5 mode in the URL scheme for google crawlers to be able to access them.

security in single page applications.png

  1. Security- With cross-site scripting(XSS), and the fact that new pages are not loaded, hackers can gain access to your website and inject new scripts on the client-side.

    Another security issue is the exposure of sensitive data. If the developer is not careful, data that is not meant for the user can be sent during request. These data might not even be visible on the page thus providing a false sense of security. Since the entire application loads directly to the user’s device, sensitive data not meant for the user can be given away.

Now that we have a view of both the advantages and disadvantages of single-page applications, what should determine their use?

Single-page applications are best for building dynamic platforms with small data volumes.

Tools to build SPAs.

There are quite tools that can build SPAs based on your preference.

The tool you use depends on you, what you’re building, and the requirements.

I would love to read your feedback in the comments. Thanks. You can also connect with me on Twitter, let’s be friends.