We live in a tech-savvy world. Wherein, every nook and corner has its own “Tech-Gurus”. Also, every few months (too say the least), we see the uprising of new technology. Each one, more spell-binding than the previous. One such technology that has left us in awe, is the “Progressive web apps”.
The name, as we can see is made of three parts, right?
Progressively, in general means something that grows slowly and more systematically. Hold that thought and we’ll come back to its meaning in this context at a later stage.
Proceeding to the web, it refers to the wide-spread mass that the World Wide Web is.
The last word is app. It’s the short, more formal form for Applications. The web applications that we are so dependent on for our day-to-day functioning. From movement tracker to the infamous WhatsApp messenger. All of these are apps.
Let us come back to the “Star of our Show”, The Progressive Web Apps also called PWA by the Millenials.
Keeping it simple, The PWAs are web-apps under the mask of websites. It means they have the features of both, hence providing users the best of both worlds.
The concept was originally put forward by Google, a few years back and naturally has been alluring a lot of attention.
PWAs are websites that have an app-like feeling to them, made obviously using tools that go into making websites (HTML, CSS, bootstrap, etc).
They are not platform-dependent, basic requirements being browser support, inhabiting wonderful features of both web applications and websites, keeping the negative stuff to a bare minimum.
Why opt for PROGRESSIVE WEB APPS (PWAs)?
Apart from what I just explained, why to choose these over an ordinary website or normal web apps? Why the fuss? Well, why not be greedy and have both? That too in a single package. Sounds tempting to me. What about you?
Technically speaking, a web application includes a lot of steps. From searching for it to actually opening it and everything in-between. It may seem like a lot of work sometimes. Which may lead to the loss of a lot of users. Understandably so.
No such problems happen with websites, although it may take more time to load on a weaker connection. The PWAs take care of these problems. Next, I am gonna you fill you in on some components/technologies that make our PWA as amazing as they are.
Digging deep into the technical components, they provide the Progressive Web Apps majority of its functionality. So let’s probe a little further and get to know them closely.
- It can show the message that the user is not connected to the internet, using the application shell, and prompt him to do so. An application shell is the minimum amount of tools like HTML, CSS for the working of a website.
There are some websites that adopt a very quirky approach to this. They let users play games while he is offline. So much for the absence of the internet, huh?
2. The second thing the Service Workers can do is, showing users the data which was cached in the previous sessions, enabling the app to work offline. As soon as the user is connected, all the latest updates can be shown. Also, this approach is very optimal.
- THE MANIFEST: It is the repository of metadata, more often than not a JSON file, labeled with the same extension(.JSON). The metadata is data about data. It saves information about data itself and is absolutely necessary for the working of applications.
A manifest may require information like the preferred link for the launch of the app, its name, orientation, display options, links to various images and thumbnails, etc.
- LIBRARIES: Any application requires a set of libraries to get the tools that it needs. The one our PWA uses is “Indexed database API”, which is supported by all major web-browsers, and it can be useful for interacting and using a NoSQL (NotOnly SQL) Database. The others amongst many are GunDB and Hood.ie, to name a few.
Important traits of Progressive Web Developments Apps
Any informative article remains incomplete without the mention of important features. It familiarizes the reader with all the know-how and behavior of the topic under discussion. So allow me to go ahead and tell you some basic features of PWAs.
- Responsiveness: They are perfectly capable of adapting to any device. Be it, laptop, mobile phones or tablets.
- Feels like an App: Probably the biggest advantage, its a website but has an app-like vibe.
- Works offline: Another highlight of this app, rightfully credited to the Service workers.
- Up-to-date: Provides the latest and up-to-date information to the user each time he logs-in.
- Easy to work it: Its a breeze to work it. There are no lengthy installations and permissions and stuff. It makes life much easier, really. It tempts the user to open it again and again.
These features are just the tip of the iceberg. As it is still a new app, it leaves a lot of room for discovery and enhancement. This technology is used by twitter lite for its website.
But what else can a developer ask for when there are such appetizing technologies out there? From a user’s point of view, he is getting all the easy and fun stuff. So everyone’s happy. A total win-win situation. Rest assured, this technology is, and will continue to take the world by storm for a really long time.