I am writing a cover letter and I would state my experience in both web application and "normal programs". "Normal programs" sounds so bad, what is a good term that I can use without delve into technical details?

  • 3
    Standalone apps? Desktop apps?
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Nov 22, 2014 at 15:14
  • Programming for "web applications" is also normal, nothing abnormal about it. The rest is just "non-Web programming."
    – Kris
    Commented Nov 22, 2014 at 15:20
  • @AndrewLeach "Non-Web programming" is broader in scope I suppose.
    – Kris
    Commented Nov 22, 2014 at 15:22
  • 1
    Windows programs? Locally installed applications? Desktop software?
    – A E
    Commented Nov 22, 2014 at 18:05
  • Local apps would work too Commented Nov 22, 2014 at 20:20

4 Answers 4


Standalone would assume that all non-web applications are standalone, or that the world-wide -web is the only way for computers to connect to one-another.

A standard client-server application can well be non-web, but is not "standalone".

The generic non-web application is very broad. It includes, say, CICS/COBOL applications on an IBM Z/series. So saying you have done non-web is about as useful as mentioning that apart from cricket, you have also experience in non-cricket sports.

If you know what you have done, it should be quite simple to describe it.

From your description I would guess that you mean you have build desktop applications. This is a common expression for those programs that you install on your computer and you start up from your desktop.


I would suggest one of the following:

  1. native apps indicating that they exist without an intermediary like a browser to run them
  2. desktop apps, command-line apps, or mobile apps indicating that they run in the desktop environment, on the command line, or on a mobile device

Non-web application

This term is accepted in the progamming community. World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

However, these options might 'sound' better:

'General programming experience' or 'Standalone software'

Credit to @Andrew Leach for standalone and and @Kris for Non-web

  • 1
    I can use COBOL/CICS on a Z/390. That is certainly non-web, but also most probably not what the OP means :) Non-web is simply everything that W3C doesn't care about: their job is the web. The electronics in my toothbrush are probably simply non-web as far as they are concerned.
    – oerkelens
    Commented Nov 22, 2014 at 19:17

Standalone software has already been suggested, but it may or may not be suitable for you. Standalone implies that app does not use the Internet, which may or may not be the case. If you have experience with "normal apps" that interact with the Internet in some way, I think you'd be selling yourself short to describe these apps as standalone.

Native has also been suggested, but this is generally understood to mean platform specific. It implies experience with native programming languages (e.g. C/C++) and discounts higher level languages such as C#, Java, Python, etc.

Desktop is what we used to refer to "normal apps" as, before the advent of smartphones and tablets. I think it's still appropriate to use, but it discounts experience with mobile apps.

Personally, I'd go with "desktop software", or if you also have experience with smartphone/tablet apps, "desktop software and mobile apps".

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