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Digital Mysteries: Browser-based vs Stand-alone (Computing)

By Reflective Thinking

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Digital Mysteries: Browser-based vs. Stand-alone is a unique app for 11-14 year olds which helps students understand the advantages and disadvantages of two types of application. It also gives a higher level view of two types of programming language.

Through putting users in the shoes of a group of gaming developers, the task helps them learn that with programming, compromises need to be made. While the programmers have a strong list of features they'd like to include, it soon becomes clear that they can't have them all. By making these decisions themselves, the students will be engaged in the task and begin to understand the challenges.

This mystery discusses the issue at a higher level rather than specific details about the differences between programming languages. It helps the students 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.

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.

To help you see what the students learn about in this specific mystery, here are some learning goals the task aims to encourage:


• 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

How can I try other mysteries?

At the bottom of the app details tab, tap ‘Developer Apps’ to view our current range. At the moment, there are apps for various subjects including computing, geography, history, mathematics, citizenship and Shakespeare plays Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth’s Influences. Many more are coming soon (see for future tasks - contact us to request a specific mystery).

To see a video of students discussing a session of one of our other tasks, go to

What's New in Version 3.5

Minor bug fixes

iPad Screenshots

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Digital Mysteries: Browser-based vs Stand-alone (Computing)
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  • £1.99
  • Category: Education
  • Updated:
  • Version: 3.5
  • Size: 15.5 MB
  • Language: English
  • Developer:

Compatibility: Requires iOS 7.0 or later. Compatible with iPad.

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