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Programming Clients

Before the Web, systems intended for geographically distributed users were usually built in one of two ways: as mainframes with networks of terminals or as client-server systems. In the case of mainframes, the application programs ran on the mainframe, and the terminals had few, if any, capabilities beyond local editing and printing. In contrast, client-server systems took advantage of the processing capabilities of the client computers, which are typically PCs. The application data remained on the server, and the processing of that data moved to the client.

Early Web browsers were much like very fancy terminals with some multimedia capabilities. They had excellent displays, local editing, and complex forms, but no programmability. Web browsers were termed the universal client, but at the cost of moving application logic back to the server. Web applications tend to have three tiers, with Web browser clients fronting a tier of application servers, which in turn front database servers.


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