Does the web industry have any standard or common name that refers specifically to web applications that don't use the conventional window-HTTP-navigation model, instead relying on mostly or wholly on DOM manipulation?

These applications usually have the following attributes:

  • load an application frame from the server once (or infrequently)
  • use a combination of Ajax requests, DOM modifications and history manipulation (via web fragment or pushState) to change state after that (while preserving reloadability)
  • do not typically trigger new conventional location bar navigation events (window- or frame-level HTTP requests)
  • most likely, present UIs that are highly interactive with a combination of dialog boxes, overlay layers, infinite scrolling, etc.


Popular counterexamples, still relying mostly on traditional models

  • YouTube (some navigation is done this way, but not enough)
  • cnn.com

I'm interested in names for this type of web application specifically. It feels like something I must have heard already, but I can't think of anything specifically.

These seem too broad:

  • Web application (could mean anything)
  • AJAX application (could mean anything)
  • 4
    Single Page Applications. Or SPA. Oct 11, 2013 at 22:58
  • I've got 2 downvotes for this question, if anyone can guess or tell me why, I'd be grateful. Too easy, doesn't show research, off-topic, makes bad or wrong assumptions, annoying...? I asked this because I couldn't think of any way to Google for this question.
    – Nicole
    Dec 16, 2013 at 21:55

1 Answer 1


One trait of these applications: They stay on one page.

SPA = Single Page App

A single-page application (SPA), also known as single-page interface (SPI), is a web application or web site that fits on a single web page with the goal of providing a more fluid user experience akin to a desktop application.

In an SPA, either all necessary code – HTML, JavaScript, and CSS – is retrieved with a single page load, or the appropriate resources are dynamically loaded and added to the page as necessary, usually in response to user actions. The page does not reload at any point in the process, nor does control transfer to another page, although modern web technologies (such as those included in HTML5) can provide the perception and navigability of separate logical pages in the application. Interaction with the single page application often involves dynamic communication with the web server behind the scenes...

  • Much more technical than the "web 2.0 technology" marketing-term I was thinking.
    – bigstones
    Oct 12, 2013 at 13:30

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