Progressive Web Apps And The Technology Behind It

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Arber Bullakaj

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In previous blog articles regarding progressive web apps, we already mentioned some of the advantages that these new applications offer – sure enough, they can’t be ignored. Quite the opposite is true: due to ongoing updates and new programming, the new generation of applications is improving continuously. Up to now, we focused on illustrating the content-related advantages, whilst in this article we would like to introduce some technical functionalities as well as the progressive web apps’ technical background. As a result, you can already form an opinion about whether a so-called PWA is a good fit for your online strategy or not. And you should definitely consider them as a big opportunity – after all, they strongly compete with native applications. The same goes for responsive websites that have been increasingly used in the course of the last months and years. And PWAs? They combine the best of both worlds. Learn more about which technology you should consider in order to update your online marketing strategy – in the present blog article.

Progressive Web Apps: Explained In Detail

PWAs: they are considered the latest ‘must-have’ in the digital world. In fact, depending on the technical context, they act like a native app or like a conventional website. Many users prefer using and consuming digital content via responsive websites, since the number of new applications on the market is overwhelming – new apps are being launched on a daily basis. Just like conventional web applications, progressive web apps are being written with famous coding languages like JavaScript, CSS and HTML. Just like them, they also adapt to the chosen browser and device, supporting the leading principle ‘mobile first’. In the next few sections, we will explain which technologies are responsible for the fast diffusion and high flexibility that progressive web apps provide.

The Centerpiece: Service Workers

Service workers are advanced web workers, which is a computation-intensive script running in the background – the same applies to service workers which run as JavaScripts in the browser’s background. It all starts with their successful download as well as the first time the app is being accessed. Meanwhile, the service worker is being installed – and the modern browser technology is from now on being informed about any and all web requests on the respective domain. In tandem with a cache, the service worker is being saved in the browser, whereby functions and content from the cache can be used and accessed even without a functioning internet connection. Thereby, service workers enable using progressive web apps even in offline mode, at least using the following browsers: Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Opera. Accessing and using the PWA can be accelerated by storing the app shell (the app’s structure) in a cache.

Hard (App) Shell, Soft Core

The application shell architecture plays a major role in the conception and implementation of progressive web apps: the aforementioned application shell and its content are regarded separately. In order to increase a progressive web app’s performance, its application shell can be stored or saved in a service worker cache when accessing it for the first time. Even the application’s content can be stored in a cache in the same way. When the user accesses the app again, its loading time is reduced, solely new content is not available yet. By downloading and storing the basic structure and already published content in a cache, users can access them without any internet connection: a big advantage that conventional applications are not able to provide yet.

For Android: WebAPKs

Android users beware: thanks to so-called WebAPKs, progressive web apps can be converted into a high-performing APK-format. WebAPKs are servers, the aforementioned APK stands for ‘Android Package’. The latter circumscribes an installation file for Android apps and therefore the possibility to install progressive web apps on Android devices like classic apps. Therewith, the application can not only be integrated in the so-called app drawer, but also be used like native apps with all their native functions and other content. Downloaded applications are not accessed in a tab any more – an important factor that significantly increases the app’s accessibility and its likelihood of being used.

Only a few browsers already support said function, yet an adaptation and future compatibility with other browsers is quite likely. Natively developed applications can access a device’s resources, functions etc. to a greater extent. However, it has to be taken into account that most applications neither involve hard- nor software to a larger extent, which is why progressive web apps are a practicable and interesting solution for your digital strategy, at least in most cases.

Progressive Web App And Professional App Development – With Dinnova

Our experts are looking forward to being on hand with help and advice for you, since our Dinnova specialized in abovementioned technologies. Comparing progressive web apps with their native counterparts, the former ones are way cheaper and easier to conceptualize. They act as a classic internet presence as well as an application that is compatible with both Apple and Android devices. In fact, PWAs can access many native functions of the respective devices – like the camera function or geolocation. If you want to benefit from accessing all device functions and provide them to your customers, too, then you should choose native applications over the progressive web alternative.

No matter which technology you choose to implement – we would love to advice and support you. Together we can conceptualize its functionalities, layouts and unique design. We therefore consider your brand personality as well as the integration of further channels that help you stay in touch with your customers. Reach out to us – we would love to get to know you during a nonbinding consultation and are looking forward to collaborating in the future! Dinnova is your best bet to secure your company’s digital future!

Arber Bullakaj

Not only is Arber Bullakaj an Innovation Expert with an Executive MBA in Innovative Management and Development, he is also certified as a Senior Project Manager (IPMA Level B). These skills, combined with an absolute passion for innovation, represent a big advantage for our clients’ needs and for the future of Dinnova AG. As a full-blooded CEO he prefers to ‘go all in’ into projects and challenges as likes to act as a sparring partner for our team.