Can someone clearly explain what is the meaning for the word "context"?

I would like to know in web apps in specific if possible (Example: Application Context)

thanks in advance!!

  • make it a bit clearer. even I cannot understand this!
    – Maulik V
    Mar 12, 2014 at 10:48
  • 4
    Please look at the word "context" in an online dictionary, and then report back with your doubts (should you have any).
    – JMB
    Mar 12, 2014 at 10:54
  • this is more of a technical question which is not suited to be asked here. Try stack overflow instead. Mar 12, 2014 at 11:57
  • This question appears to be off-topic because it is about computer programming and should be moved to Stack Overflow. Mar 12, 2014 at 20:59
  • 1
    As someone who regularly reminds people on both ELU and ELL that "Context is everything," I don't see how this is necessarily a programming question. Web apps are only one context for the word context. I do agree that it could be made a little clearer, though.
    – J.R.
    Mar 13, 2014 at 0:28

2 Answers 2


Context is just the boundary or limit or the enclosure kind of a thing.

If you say a variable is application context, outside of the application the variable can't be accessed.


This isn't an English question: this is a computer question.

In web programming, a "context" is a single application running on a web server that might have many such applications. When a user enters a URL on his browser, a context looks like a directory name. For example, if you type "http://www.example.com/foobar", "foobar" may be a context. As far as the user can tell, it might be an ordinary directory, too, but it might be a context.

When you write a web application, you can (and should) write it so that you don't know or care what the context name is. You could then deploy the same application to the same server twice, with two different context names -- perhaps a test or demo version along with the production version. Or you could simply preserve the flexibility to change the context name.

For example, in ASP, in most places where you give a link between pages in your application, you can put a tilde at the front, like "~/somedir/page.aspx", and the system fills in the context for you. In others, like JSP/servlets, you have to do a function call to get the context name and build the URL.

BTW, blank is a valid context name, so you can have an app that runs at the root of the web server.

  • I think this lies somewhere in between an English question and a computer question. Yes, it's a technical term, but it's still an English word that's a bit tricky to describe. NOAD's definition is "the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed" – not exactly a straightforward word for the English learner.
    – J.R.
    Mar 13, 2014 at 0:21

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