While we are no longer developing Digital Mysteries and Thinking Kit, we are leaving our website up for those of you interested in the ideas behind the Apps.

Browser-based vs. stand-alone

browser based vs stand alone app     Browser-based vs. stand-alone


       Subject:         Computing
       Topic:             Programming Languages
       Audience:      KS3
       Question:      Should the team make a browser-based application with JavaScript and HTML or a stand-alone                                                                                                        application (needs to be installed) with C++, and why?
       Author:          Reflective Thinking


This mystery addresses the curriculum topic of programming languages by putting students in the role of a team of game developers. Kevin and Kate (with help from Mark and Molly) need to decide on the best option to develop their athletics game. It discusses the issue at a higher level rather than specific details about the differences between programming languages. Students are helped to understand the advantages and consequences of two types of applications: browser-based, and stand-alone. 

While JavaScript, HTML and CSS is the obvious choice for browser-based applications, the choice is not that clear for stand-alone applications. However, this mystery uses C++ to make it a more realistic scenario due to it being the language mostly used for games. Nevertheless, C++ could be replaced with other languages such as Java, Python, or C# and the mystery will work equally well.

The students need to learn that with programming, compromises need to be made on the technology used. Their decision should be dependent on the features they think are the most important to have. It is useful to make the students aware that rather than picking technology first, then implementing the features supported by that technology, the better approach is to determine the features that are the most important, and then pick the technology that is suitable to implement them.



• What browser-based applications are, the language and standards normally used to develop them, plus their advantages and disadvantages

•  What stand-alone applications are, some of the common languages used to develop them, plus their advantages and disadvantages

• That in some cases compromises need to be made based on the technology used

• What the difference between HTML, CSS, and JavaScript is