Essential Web Apps for Creatives
What are web apps?
For those who don't know, web apps are applications which are accessed and used via the internet. So instead of downloading anything, you simply just log onto a website and you're done. Simple as that. The major difference between web apps and desktop apps (applications you download and/or install such as Microsoft Word, Adobe Illustrator etc.) is that web apps are accessible all over the world; as long as you have an internet connection.
Why use Web Apps?
So why use web apps? There are a few reasons but the main one is that they can be accessed anywhere. Have you ever bought a desktop application before? For those that haven't or have never noticed before, they restrict you to installing it on only a certain number of computers; i.e. three or four computers. This is fine for the average person but you may own more than four devices. You may own a couple of laptops, a desktop and maybe even a couple of tablets. If you have more computers than your software will let you install on you are in for a hard time. You're going to need to decide which devices you should install it on and which you should neglect. What if some of your computers are Macs and the others are Windows? That would mean you would have to buy the software two times for both operating systems. With web applications this is not a problem. You sign up to a web app and you can use it absolutely everywhere. You can use it on one computer or a million computers. You can use it on a windows computer or a Mac (and some even work on tablets). This is a freedom you simply cannot achieve with any desktop application.
The dangers of the cloud
But the cloud isn't just fun and games, there is a downside or two to it. The big concern many people have is about privacy. If somebody is holding your personal info you want to know you can trust them. Now I can't tell you which applications are to be trusted and which are not (I wouldn't trust Google ;) but I can warn you about it. I know everybody says it, but nobody actually does it, but you should read the terms ans conditions. PRO TIP: press ctrl/cmd-F and search for certain words such as 'private', 'privacy' 'law' etc. to get to the so called important bits.
Web apps and the cloud
The great thing about web applications is that your data is always safe in the cloud. When I work on my computer and I save a really important document on my desktop I always get this cold, sinking feeling inside me which says 'what if your computer breaks one day?' or something along those lines. It makes me feel like my data is not actually as safe as I'd like to think it is. When you use a web app, your data isn't saved on your computer, it is saved on the company's computer/server. I know some may feel uneasy about knowing that other people can see their stuff but to me it feels more secure. I like the idea of having something stored in a place more secure than my own computer.
Invitation Only sites
When web apps are first made they often start their life cycle off as being 'invite only' sites. This means that you can only be invited into the site or you have to wait some time before you can use it. There are two reasons for this. One is so that their servers are not clogged up with an abundance of new people, and the other is so that they can test features on a select group. Most invite only sites are still in 'beta' stage meaning they are not fully finished. They are being tested. One big upside to sites like this is that they are usually free to join and use.
Drft (writing application)
The first application I want to tell you about is Drft. It is a simple distraction free writing application. A domain for you to calmly write about anything you want, whether it be a new story or a report for your boss. The application is very basic but this is no mistake; or even a downside. Drft is not meant to be cluttered with many features, it is meant to be a writing application. There is no ability to insert an image or a table into your work because it is not made for that. It is purely for writing. At the moment Drft is an invitation only website while it is still in beta but I asked for an invitation about two weeks ago and got it just a few days later. They are letting new people in on a daily basis.
For those who have an eye for photography, 500px is the place to be. It is your one-stop-shop for inspirational and technically stunning works of art (although it is not a shop). 500px is an amazing place for photographers to submit their own work for show and to admire the work of others. Unlike Drft, 500px is not in its 'beta' stage and is not invite only. Anybody can sign up and start looking, or even submitting. It is an inclusive environment.
And lastly for the designers is a site I found to be surprisingly stunning and powerful for a free web application. Canva is an app which gives you the ability to create quick, visually satisfying pieces of graphics in near to no time with near to no hardship. It is a simple website with a simple interface but which allows you to do things at a professional quality. I would not say this can replace Illustrator at the moment but in the future I see it as being a contender. At the moment it is surely your go-to app for when you need a quick graphic done. Unfortunately it is also 'invite only'.