Web server works on HTTP protocol. Web servers are designed to handle the HTTP request. When a user tries to go to a URL or website or clicks on the links to navigate to a document or image, the click action of the user generates a HTTP request to the web server. On the server side, this HTTP request is transferred to the program suitable to handle such request and the program process this request to generate a result in the form of HTTP response. HTTP response can only have data stored in the form hyper text documents which can easily displayed to the user on a web browser.
Web servers only provide with an environment where the server side programs can be executed and provide back with a response. Web servers are suited where the result of the HTTP request only needs to serve the purpose of displaying data to the user. This data can be an image, an audio file played in background, a new web page or any other related stuff.
But there might be situations where the result of the request is to be further processed to generate another result based on computation or any other logic. This is where the role of the application servers comes in.
Application servers are a super set of web server, that is they not only have the functionality of web servers but also have many additional benefits.
Technically speaking, the results of application servers are reusable. These response results are not only used to display content to the user but also the applications using application server can continuously exchange data and values for computational and other purposes.
Application server can also provide there user with the facility to run many softwares online. In such cases user do not require to install the full program on their PC, all they need is to install an application or run an application on a web server which can send and receive data from its application server and at the server-side we can install the software that does all the computational work and create such environment for the user that user feels the application is installed on their own PC.
Application Server can be accessed by using APIs to send and receive data in encoded in any one of the many different formats such as XML, JSON, etc.
Web servers are a subset of application server and a single application server and resolve the need of both web as well as application server but for performance issues mostly application servers are assisted by separate Web servers to handle HTTP requests.
Difference between Web Server and Application Server
|Web Server||Application Server|
|Subset of Application Server.||Super set of Web Server.|
|Web servers are used to produce static or dynamic hyper text documents.||Application servers serves many purposes ranging from hyper text document generation to computation on data provided.|
|Web Servers require a web browser to display the result of the HTTP request, commonly known as HTTP response.||Client Side application is required to allow continuous data exchange between the application server and client application.|
|Web server provide with an environment for server side programs to execute and produce HTTP response in results.||Application server provide environment to expose functionality of the softwares installed at server side to the clients.|
|Web servers are accessed using HTTP request and HTTP protocols.||Application servers are accessed using APIs.|
|Result is a hyper text document containing the information which is displayed to the user on a web browser.||Result is XML, JSON, and HTML, etc files which contain required data and can serve special purpose depending upon the user needs.|
|Examples: Apache, Nginx, Microsoft IIS||Examples: Glassfish, Weblogic, JBoss|
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Source link https://www.thecrazyprogrammer.com/2018/06/difference-between-web-server-and-application-server.html