What is a single-page app?

Neeraj Dana
Neeraj Dana

A single-page app implements this architecture for web clients: the JavaScript app launches from a web page and then runs entirely in the browser. All visual changes on the website happen as a reaction to user actions and the data received from the remote APIs.

It is called single-page because the server does not render pages for the client; it always delivers the same minimalistic markup required to bootstrap the JS app. All page rendering and navigation happens purely on the client, using JavaScript, which utilizes History APIs to dynamically swap page contents and URLs in the location bar.

The advantages that this approach gives are that the client can run something in the background between page transitions, and the client does not have to re-download and re-render the entire page in order to swap only the main content. Unfortunately, it also brings drawbacks, because now the client is responsible for all state changes. For the synchronization of such changes across the entire interface, it must know when to load the data and what particular data. In other words, a server-generated app is conceptually a way simpler thing, thanks to the REST service + JS client.