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The Future Of Web Development: Embracing Progressive Web Apps

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Rakesh Purohit

ReactJS Developer Advocate
August 11, 2023

Rakesh Purohit

August 11, 2023

Hello, tech enthusiasts! Buckle up, because today we're going to embark on an exciting journey into the world of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). If you've been keeping your ear to the ground in the realm of web development, you've likely heard the buzz around PWAs. They're touted as the next big thing, promising to revolutionize the way we think about and build web applications. But what exactly is a Progressive Web App? How does it differ from a traditional web app or a native mobile app? And more importantly, how can you leverage this cutting-edge technology to create more engaging, performant, and user-friendly web experiences? Let's find out!

What are Progressive Web Apps?

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are a type of web app that uses modern web technologies to deliver an app-like experience to users. They're progressive because they work for every user, regardless of their choice of browser, thanks to the use of progressive enhancement principles. They're also responsive, fitting any form factor: desktop, mobile, tablet, or whatever comes next.

One of the key features of a PWA is the ability to work offline. This is achieved through the use of service workers, a type of web worker. Service workers are scripts that your browser runs in the background, separate from a web page, opening the door to features that don't need a web page or user interaction. Here's a simple example of a service worker registration:

This code checks if the service worker API is available, and if it is, the service worker at /service-worker.js is registered once the page is loaded.

Another major feature of PWAs is the ability to receive push notifications, just like native apps. This is possible through the Push API and the Notification API. This means that even when the web app is not active in a browser tab, it can still show notifications to engage users.

PWAs can also be installed on the user's device and live on the home screen, just like native apps. They can even re-engage users with web push notifications. And the best part? No need for an app store. This means they can be discovered and installed right from the browser, bypassing the need for app stores and the restrictions that come with them.

PWAs are fast. They respond quickly to user interactions with smooth animations and no janky scrolling. This is possible because a PWA caches the application shell (the UI) and the content separately. The application shell is cached locally, so it loads almost instantly, providing a native-app-like feel. The content is loaded dynamically, as and when needed.

PWAs are also safe, served via HTTPS to prevent snooping and ensure that the content hasn't been tampered with. They're also linkable, meaning they're zero-install and easy to share. The app's URL can be shared via a simple link.

So, in a nutshell, a PWA is a web app that can be shared via a URL and can provide an immersive, full-screen experience with help from a web app manifest file and can even work offline and re-engage users with web push notifications. Sounds exciting, right? Let's dive a bit deeper and see how we can build our first Progressive Web App.

How to Build Your First Progressive Web App?

How to Build Your First Progressive Web App?

Now that we've got a grip on what a Progressive Web App is, let's get our hands dirty and start building one. Don't worry, I'll walk you through the process step by step.

First things first, we need to set up the basic structure of our web app. For this, we'll be using ReactJS, a popular JavaScript library for building user interfaces. Here's a simple example of a React function component:

This is a simple React component that renders a header with a greeting message. Now, let's add the PWA capabilities to our web app.

The first thing we need to do is to create a service worker. The service worker will be responsible for caching the app's assets and serving them when the user is offline. Here's a basic example of a service worker:

This service worker listens for the install event, which is fired when the service worker is installed. It then opens a cache and adds the app's assets to it. It also listens for the fetch event, which is fired whenever a network request is made. It responds by trying to match the request with a cached response, and if it can't find one, it fetches the resource from the network.

Next, we need to create a web app manifest. The manifest is a simple JSON file that provides information about the application (such as name, author, icon, and description) in a text file. Here's a basic example of a web app manifest:

This manifest specifies the name of the app, the start URL, the display mode, the background and theme colors, a description, and an array of icons. The browser uses this information to display the app on the home screen and in the app switcher.

And voila! You've just built your first Progressive Web App. But we're not done yet. There's a lot more to PWAs than what we've covered so far. Let's explore some more advanced topics.

Going Beyond the Basics: Advanced PWA Features

Now that we've covered the basics of building a Progressive Web App, let's delve into some of the more advanced features that can really make your PWA shine.

Push Notifications

Push Notifications

One of the most powerful features of PWAs is the ability to send push notifications. This can significantly increase user engagement and keep your users coming back for more. Implementing push notifications involves using the Push API in conjunction with the Notification API. Here's a basic example of how you can request permission to send notifications and then display a notification:

In this code, we first request permission to display notifications. If the permission is granted, we can then display a notification.

Background Sync

Another powerful feature of PWAs is background sync. This allows your app to defer actions until the user has a stable internet connection. This is particularly useful for ensuring that user actions are never lost, even when the internet connection is unreliable.

Background sync is implemented using the Background Sync API. Here's a basic example of how you can register a sync event:

In this code, we first ensure that the service worker is ready. We then register a sync event with the tag 'myFirstSync'. The service worker can listen for this event and perform actions when it is fired.

Offline Analytics

Last but not least, let's talk about offline analytics. One of the challenges of building a PWA is that traditional analytics tools might not work when the user is offline. However, with the help of service workers and the Background Sync API, we can queue analytics events and send them when the user is back online.

There's a lot more to PWAs than what we've covered in this post. From creating an immersive full-screen experience to providing a fast and seamless user experience, PWAs offer a wealth of possibilities for web developers. So, why not give it a try? Start building your first Progressive Web App today, and see the difference it can make for your users!

Building Your First Progressive Web App with a Twist

Alright, let's take a step back to when we were building our first PWA. Remember when we were setting up the basic structure of our web app using ReactJS? Well, here's a little secret - I had a silent partner helping me out. Meet WiseGPT, a promptless Generative AI for React developers.

Now, you might be thinking, "What's so special about WiseGPT?" Well, let me tell you, it's pretty darn cool. WiseGPT can write code in your style without any context limit. It's like having a coding buddy who knows your style inside out. Plus, it provides API integration by accepting Postman collection, which can be a real time-saver.

Here's the twist. When I was writing the React function component, I had WiseGPT by my side, helping me out. It was like having a co-pilot, guiding me through the code and making sure everything was in order.

So, if you're a React developer looking to level up your game, you might want to give WiseGPT a try. It's like having a secret weapon in your coding arsenal. But shhh... let's keep this between us, shall we?

The Impact of PWAs on User Experience and Engagement

Now that we've explored the technical aspects of building a Progressive Web App, let's shift our focus to the user's perspective. After all, the ultimate goal of any app, whether it's a traditional web app, a native app, or a PWA, is to provide value to the user.

One of the most significant advantages of PWAs is their ability to work offline. This feature is a game-changer for users with unstable internet connections or those who are often in areas with poor network coverage. By serving cached content when offline, PWAs can provide a seamless user experience that's not disrupted by network issues.

PWAs also offer an app-like experience, thanks to the ability to be installed on the home screen and run in a standalone window, rather than a browser tab. This makes PWAs feel more like native apps, which can lead to increased user engagement.

Push notifications are another powerful tool for boosting user engagement. By sending timely, relevant notifications, you can draw users back to your app and encourage them to interact with your content.

Moreover, PWAs can be discovered and installed directly from the browser, bypassing the need for app stores. This makes the installation process much smoother and more straightforward, which can lead to higher installation rates.

In terms of performance, PWAs are typically faster and more responsive than traditional web apps, thanks to the caching of the application shell and content. This can lead to a more enjoyable user experience and higher user retention rates.

In conclusion, PWAs can significantly enhance the user experience and boost user engagement, thanks to their offline capabilities, app-like feel, push notifications, easy discoverability and installation, and superior performance. So, if you're looking to provide the best possible experience to your users, building a PWA might be the way to go.

Progressive Web Apps vs Native Apps: A Comparative Analysis

Now that we've explored the world of Progressive Web Apps, it's time to put them head-to-head with their counterparts - native apps. How do they stack up against each other? Let's find out.

Reach vs Richness

One of the biggest advantages of PWAs is their reach. They're built using standard web technologies, which means they can run on any platform with a modern web browser. This makes them inherently cross-platform, reaching users on a wide variety of devices.

Native apps, on the other hand, offer richness. They can tap into the full power of the device's hardware and operating system, offering a richer, more immersive user experience. However, they're platform-specific, which means you'll need to build separate apps for iOS, Android, and any other platform you want to target.

Development and Maintenance

When it comes to development and maintenance, PWAs have the upper hand. Since they're built using common web technologies, you can use the same codebase for all platforms. This can significantly reduce development time and costs.

Native apps, on the other hand, require separate codebases for each platform. This means you'll need to develop and maintain multiple versions of your app, which can be time-consuming and costly.

Performance and Capabilities

In terms of performance and capabilities, native apps typically have the edge. They can leverage the device's hardware and operating system to offer a fast, smooth, and highly interactive user experience.

PWAs, while improving, still can't match the performance and capabilities of native apps. However, they're getting closer, thanks to advancements in web technologies and APIs.

Discoverability and Installation

PWAs shine when it comes to discoverability and installation. They can be discovered through search engines and installed directly from the browser, bypassing the need for app stores.

Native apps, on the other hand, must be downloaded and installed through an app store. This can be a barrier for some users, as it requires more steps and can take up a significant amount of storage space on the user's device.

In conclusion, both PWAs and native apps have their strengths and weaknesses. The choice between the two will depend on your specific needs and goals. If reach and ease of development are your top priorities, a PWA might be the best choice. If you need to leverage the full power of the device's hardware and operating system, a native app might be the way to go.

Real-World Examples of Progressive Web Apps

To truly understand the power and potential of Progressive Web Apps, it's helpful to look at some real-world examples. Let's take a look at how some major companies have leveraged PWAs to enhance their user experience and boost engagement.

Twitter Lite

Twitter Lite is perhaps one of the most well-known examples of a PWA. Launched in 2017, Twitter Lite offers a fast, data-friendly way to use Twitter. It's designed to load quickly on slower networks, take up less space on your device, and save data.

Twitter Lite has seen significant success since its launch. According to Twitter, the PWA has led to a 65% increase in pages per session, a 75% increase in Tweets sent, and a 20% decrease in bounce rate.


Starbucks has also jumped on the PWA bandwagon with its Starbucks PWA. The app allows customers to browse the menu, customize their orders, and add items to their cart, all while offline. Once they're back online, they can place their order and pick it up at their nearest Starbucks.

The Starbucks PWA has been a hit with customers. According to Starbucks, the PWA has doubled the number of people who place orders each day, with desktop users now ordering at about the same rate as mobile users.


Pinterest has also seen significant success with its PWA. According to Pinterest, the PWA has led to a 60% increase in core engagements, a 44% increase in user-generated ad revenue, and a 50% increase in ad click-through rates.

These examples illustrate the potential of PWAs to deliver a superior user experience and drive user engagement. They show that PWAs are not just a fad, but a powerful tool that can help businesses reach and engage their users more effectively.

The Future of Progressive Web Apps

As we've seen, Progressive Web Apps offer a host of benefits, from improved performance and offline capabilities to easy discoverability and installation. But what does the future hold for PWAs? Let's take a look at some of the trends and developments we can expect to see.

Improved Capabilities

As web technologies continue to evolve, we can expect PWAs to become even more powerful and capable. New APIs are being developed that will allow PWAs to access more of the device's hardware and capabilities, narrowing the gap between PWAs and native apps.

Greater Adoption

As more businesses see the benefits of PWAs, we can expect to see greater adoption of this technology. Major companies like Twitter, Starbucks, and Pinterest have already shown the way, and many others are likely to follow.

Better Support

While support for PWAs is already quite good, with all major browsers supporting the core technologies, we can expect this support to improve even further. As PWAs become more popular, browser vendors will be motivated to provide better support and implement new features and APIs.

Integration with App Stores

While one of the benefits of PWAs is the ability to bypass app stores, there's also a trend towards integrating PWAs with app stores. This gives users the choice of discovering and installing PWAs either through the browser or through an app store.

In conclusion, the future looks bright for Progressive Web Apps. With improved capabilities, greater adoption, better support, and integration with app stores, PWAs are set to become a major force in the world of web development. So, if you haven't already, now is a great time to start exploring this exciting technology.

Wrapping Up: Embracing the PWA Revolution

As we've journeyed through the world of Progressive Web Apps, we've seen how this technology is revolutionizing the way we build and experience web apps. From their ability to work offline and send push notifications, to their app-like feel and easy discoverability and installation, PWAs offer a host of benefits that can significantly enhance the user experience and boost user engagement.

But perhaps the most exciting thing about PWAs is their potential. As web technologies continue to evolve, PWAs are set to become even more powerful and capable. And as more businesses see the benefits of PWAs, we can expect to see greater adoption of this technology.

So, whether you're a seasoned web developer or just starting out, I encourage you to embrace the PWA revolution. Start exploring this exciting technology, build your first Progressive Web App, and see the difference it can make for your users.

Remember, the future of web development is here, and it's progressive. So, let's seize the opportunity and start building better web experiences for everyone. Happy coding!

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

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