Saturday, February 27, 2021

What are Progressive Web Apps and Do We Need Them?

For some time now PWAs have been cited as the "wave of the future" in application development. So what are PWAs? A Progressive Web App is a bridge between the world of web apps and the world of native apps (apps that are developed solely for mobile devices). PWAs are hosted on the web, accessed through a standards-compliant browser, and consist of common web technologies like HTML, CSS and Javascript. However, they can be installed on mobile devices direct from the browser and they work like a mobile app. 

PWAs can be saved to a phone or other mobile device’s home screen and function like a native app, with the ability to access the device's camera, gyroscope, and other hardware and even deliver push notifications. PWAs can also be loaded and used offline, since they store HTML and CSS in your browser's cache. 

So, can you create a Progressive Web App on your favorite no-code platform? The answer is probably "yes", but the process may be a little complicated. For example:

  • Zoho Creator - Web apps created on Zoho Creator are all PWAs by default, with the backend processing built-in. Once your app is created you can access it from a mobile web browser, install it on the home screen of your mobile device and it will work basically the same as a native app. And, as mentioned, any data entered into the application while it's offline will sync to the web as soon as the device connects to a network.
  • Lumavate - Allows users to create no-code PWAs for business as a standard feature of their platform.
  • OutSystems - OutSystems added PWA support last year. They let you turn your mobile app into a PWA simply be selecting "PWA" distribution in your app details. According to OutSystems their PWA apps have been tested against Google's Lighthouse tool to ensure compliance with Lighthouse standards.
  • GoodBarber - You can create no-code PWAs as a standard option on their platform.
  • Bubble - Currently Bubble doesn't provide an option for converting your web app into a mobile or progressive web app. You would have to search for a third party to help you make that conversion.
Many other no-code app platforms are, like Bubble, planning on adding the ability to convert apps developed on their platform into PWAs or can provide a wrapper or third party service to create a PWA from your app.
If you decide you want to build a progressive web app you should be aware that there are a few potential problems with PWAs:
  • Not all web browsers support Progressive Web Apps. Google Chrome offers full support for PWAs on Windows, Linux, macOS, Android and iOS, Safari supports PWAs on macOS and iOS (3.11 and above). Microsoft Edge (Chromium) provides full support for PWAs on Windows 10 and on macOS. However, in December of last year Firefox discontinued support on desktops but does still offer partial support on Anroid devices.
  • Unlike native apps, it takes a great deal of effort to link Progressive Web Apps to other native apps on your mobile device.
  • Updates to PWAs are somewhat complicated since they can't be combined into a single, easily installable package.
At the same time there are also some additional advantages to PWAs:
  • After a progressive web app loads, it will run faster than a native app because (being web-based) the content and page elements don't have to be re-loaded each time the page is accessed.
  • PWAs tend to be safer because they work via HTTPS, which guards against snooping and makes sure that content hasn't been tampered with.
  • PWAs can be shared with others through a URL, without having to go through an app store or requiring a complicated installation procedure.

So, are PWAs really worth it? Considering the widespread use of phones and other mobile devices, many businesses that have switched to PWAs have reported a significant increase in traffic and customer interest. Even though the rush to PWAs has slowed somewhat, it's still a good bet that progressive web apps will end up being a major player in application development in the not-too-distant future.

1 comment:

  1. I'd like to express my gratitude for writing such a helpful article. This article provided me with some useful knowledge. Thank you for sharing that. Keep up the good work. top mobile app development company in usa