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An introduction to Webfiles

Webfiles is a software as a service that lets you host, deliver and edit web files visually. It is reachable via webfiles.dev. In this blog post, we're going to talk about the underlying concepts of this tool and why we created it.

What are web files?

The name of the SaaS derived from web files, obviously. Let's talk about these web files for a minute.

As the name suggests, Webfiles are related to the world wide web. These files come in many different formats. When the public web was still young, one of the most important and well known formats was HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language). And it still is! But over the years various other formats made their way to the top, notably JSON as one of them.

Do you remember the times when sitting in front of Notepad, getting to know your first HTML tags, and creating a small website? The next step was transferring these HTML files to a web server so everybody could enjoy them.

After that you might have created CSS files to encapsulate the style of your website or JavaScript files, which contained code to make your website dynamic, reacting to user actions, and such.

All of these web files together made your website.

Here are a few more formats, which might be considered as web files: XHTML, XML, JSON, JSON-LD and SVG (this list is not exhaustive and are just examples. It doesn't contain binary image formats, only human-readable formats).

A bit more history

As soon as the browsers were able to make HTTP requests without full page refreshes, through XMLHttpRequests, more web files became popular. One of them was JSON (JavaScript Object Notation).

The main purpose of these requests was to asynchronously reload certain data from the web server without reloading the complete HTML of the page. Therefore the format needed was a lot less for presentation but rather metadata.

This way of loading metadata from a web server is still common practice nowadays. Mostly done with JSON and APIs.

Web files are not for browsers only

With the mention of APIs at the latest, you have surely noticed that web files are not only relevant for browsers. They are all over the place in today’s web.

They are used in Apps on many different devices and operating systems, on phones, tablets and smart TVs. Internet of Things (IoT) is driven mostly by formats like JSON or XML - even full desktop applications load metadata from remote sources, for example to display the latest vendor news on the splash screen.

What does all of that have to do with Webfiles?!

Now you know what web files are, and the different formats they come in. How they have been used and still are being used today. Let’s have another look on our software as a service product Webfiles.

With Webfiles you can create, paste or upload web files in all those different formats, directly in your browser. Every file is then available via a unique web URL for you to use wherever you like.

But the most valuable feature is the ability to hide certain parts of your files by a click of a button without actual code changes and re-deployments. This can be used to deactivate features on websites and Apps or hide whole sections from the user.

Furthermore, for formats like JSON or XML, Webfiles provides a visual editing experience second to none. Through that you're able to display or hide parts of your files and move them around via drag-n-drop.

This opens up new possibilities for Product Owners, and frees up development resources.

Webfiles is now available for you to try in a public preview. It's free, and no sign-up is required. If you'd like to follow the journey, please subscribe on the Homepage, at https://webfiles.dev.

Thank you for reading our introduction to Webfiles.

Next time we'll talk about some features in more detail.

Happy coding!


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