Real-World Web Apps

This section is devoted to exploring the current web apps landscape. We’ll take a tour around some of the best-known offerings, and one or two lesser-known ones. First, though, we need to consider the web app user’s most important tool: the browser.

The Browser Factor

When exploring and using web apps, by necessity you need a web browser you can trust and that you enjoy using. All browsers have their quirks, their pros and cons, and most people have a favorite that they use most of the time. Some opt to have several browsers installed and use different ones for different purposes online—nothing wrong with this approach either.

No matter how you arrange your browsing environment, it’s important to remember that using web apps commonly requires the browser to remember certain important data: usually URLs and username/password combos.

It’s a very good idea to keep a browser-independent backup of all your important logins and signups. If—when—your computer dies, taking your browser(s) with it, you will need access to vital web app passwords that you haven’t stored in your head.

Most typically used browsers should be up to the task of running most web apps; by their nature, web apps should be designed to run everywhere, although you may encounter a few that simply refuse to work in anything but (usually) Internet Explorer on Windows. Firefox is generally a good choice of browser, irrespective of whether you’re using Windows, Mac OS X, or a Unix/Linux derivative.

Everybody ...

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