In this tutorial, I'll take you through the basics of web programming, using a useful real-world example: a video chat web application. A web application is software that runs in a web browser.
The app enables you to have a video conversation over the internet. Unlike Skype, it does this over the World Wide Web in a browser. Remember, there is a distinction between the World Wide Web (or Web) and the internet. The world wide web is the searchable, worldwide collection of web pages connected by hypertext links, whereas the internet is the worldwide network of computers.
The app uses a technology called WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication), which is supported by the latest versions of several browsers, including Chrome, Firefox and Opera. WebRTC uses connections that are peer-to-peer; that is, from one personal device, such as a computer or smartphone, to another. Connections that are not peer-to-peer require a server, which is a computer that provides a service, such as returning a web page, to any client device that requests it, such as your PC.
Note: The app should work perfectly well for peers (participants in a video link) sharing the same computer network (in the same school, company or house), but may be blocked when trying to connect to a user on a different network that employs security measures such as NAT (network address translation) to hide the computers on the network from the outside world.
To try out the app, follow these steps:
If you have any questions or comments about the app or the following tutorial, please send an e-mail to
Web apps operate within web browsers. The same web app can run in the browser of any device (PC, Mac, Tablet, Smartphone) using any operating system (Windows, Linux, OS X, Android, iOS), as long as the browser follows the same standards assumed by the app. As browsers have evolved, they have gradually adopted the recommendations of groups like the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), meaning they are converging on a common set of standards. The browser is acting like a common operating system, so your web app should execute equally well no matter the device.
To write a web app, you need to be able to program or code in a few programming languages. Like all languages, these can be understood by both the writer/speaker and the reader/listener. In this case, you are the writer, or programmer, and the machine running the program is the reader.
Depending on the app, you may also need to know how to create and interact with a database, used to store data in an organized way rather like a spreadsheet.
The following languages are commonly used for web apps:
Finally, to put your app on the web so that people around the world can use it, you'll need some web space. There are many free options available, such as biz.ht and biz.nf. Whichever hosting site you use, make sure it supports PHP code and MySQL databases if you want to create the WebRTC app yourself.