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Pros and Cons for Client-Side Web Development

  •  7-7-2014

Client-side web development is a growing trend in web design. A decade ago, the general rule was to use server-side coding whenever possible and only use client-side code when necessary. The new client-side coding trend has reversed this train of thought, and it has provided developers with some fast, convenient features that can be leveraged for advanced web applications. Even with its speed and convenience, JavaScript client-side code still has its disadvantages. (tweet this)

What is Client-Side Coding?

Client-side code is basically JavaScript. Unless another language takes over and is inherently compatible with all browsers, JavaScript is the de facto standard for client-side coding. JavaScript has been around for years and was first integrated with Netscape Navigator, which was once the only other browser besides Internet Explorer. Netscape lost the browser battle to Internet Explorer, so it’s no longer developed. However, its JavaScript functionality survived.

JavaScript code runs on the user’s computer, which is where it gets the name “client-side.” Most browsers have settings that allow the user to block JavaScript. If your site is mostly JavaScript, these users won’t be able to work with your website. Blocking JavaScript is the first issue when coding client-side applications.

What are some JavaScript Advantages?

The main advantage of JavaScript is the ability to run almost anything in the browser. With JavaScript, your website app runs more like a desktop application. Client-side code is also much faster than server-side scripts. With server-side code, the user must send a request to the server, the server processes the data, and a response is sent back to the user. Even with fast Internet connections, this process takes time. When the process just runs on the user’s computer, it’s fast and provides an instant response for the user. It’s this speed that makes JavaScript great for web applications.

What are the Disadvantages?

One primary issue is search engines. While Google tries to execute and understand JavaScript, client-side code is still not entirely search engine friendly. A web app that relies on too much JavaScript can make SEO difficult. Search engines need content to understand and rank your pages, and too much JavaScript renders code and nothing readable for bots. You can still incorporate JavaScript, but it should be managed with some server-side code that is available for search engines. Make sure your content is rendered to the browser without requiring JavaScript. Tools such as web-sniffer.net allow you to view the HTML bots see when they crawl your pages. Use these tools to ensure you have plenty of content rendered for bots.

Conclusion

The best web design uses both JavaScript for fast user interaction and server-side code that gives search engines some content that can be indexed. You also must consider that JavaScript runs differently on some browsers. Use JavaScript wisely when you create web designs, so you don’t eliminate viewers due to functionality issues. (tweet this)

Photo by nyuhuhuu

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