One of the other trends we found this year in open source technology is ‘Progressive Web Apps’.

  1. Progressive Web Apps (PWA)

PWAs are websites which look and behave like mobile applications. They are extremely suitable in today’s mobility world. PWA has advantages of both websites as well as mobile applications, like –

  • Being accessible on web browsers.
  • Runs in a standard container, being accessible via a URL.
  • Provides more personalized and focused engagement like mobile apps.
  • Instant loading; without the problem of not getting connected to the respective PWA’s URL even in uncertain network conditions.
  • Quick response to user interactions.

Technologically, PWAs are web applications which load like any web page, with the ability to function offline, give push notifications and access device hardware. One other technical utility which is having similar functional benefits are mobile applications.

There are certain criteria which need to be satisfied by an app to be considered as a PWA. They are –

  1. Progressive – Built based on ‘Progressive Enhancement’ (a web development methodology allowing web developers to concentrate on creating the best possible website by building a solid foundation first and then building enhancements.).
  2. Responsive – Automatically fits in any kind of computing device, i.e.mobile, laptop, desktop, tablet OR whatever is coming in the future.
  3. Independent to connectivity – as told before, the functionality to work offline, especially in low quality networks.
  4. App-like – Uses modern web functionalities to give its users an app like experience, Always keeps itself update with the latest real time information.
  5. Secured – Delivered via HTTPS to prevent snooping as well as tampering of content.
  6. Discoverable – By methods like being showcased via various categories, search filters, etc., apps can be found by search engines. These can be indexed by search engines.
  7. Re-engageable – Re-engagement means making previous users return to the app. It has been made possible by functionalities like ‘Push Notifications’, as told before.
  8. Installable – Allows users to keep those apps they like on the home screen itself, without the need of app store.
  9. Linkable – Allows sharing via a URL, eliminating the need for installation.

But unlike a mobile app, PWA is ‘Cost Effective’ in terms of development and maintenance. Another advantage of PWA over the mobile app is its ability to work in ‘Cross-Platform’. i.e., PWAs are not restricted to any platform like mobile apps. So, there is no need to make a different version of a PWA for different platforms, as in the case of mobile applications. Twitter Lite Social Media PWA, Trivago Hotel Booking PWA, Starbucks Coffee PWA, Forbes News and General Interest PWA, Pinterest Social Curation PWA, Google Chrome PWA, Flipkart PWA.

There are ‘Progressive Frameworks’ (an example is – Angular.js and Vue.js are progressive javascript framework) available online using which one can create PWA for their web page. The code will be available for free (open source) to turn a web page to a PWA. To test a PWA, one can use an open source automated tool called ‘Lighthouse’(it is a chrome extension which can access PWAs), whose icon will be available on the top right of the PWA. On clicking the icon, a report on the respective PWA will be generated.

All these factors ensure that PWAs are economical, efficient applications which require comparatively lesser space (mostly in KBs) on the user’s devices, making it one of among the most sought after among today’s open source trends.

 

Go to the previous article in this series

 

Check out the next article in this series, here – Topics 3 and 4 : ‘Rust’ & ‘R Programming

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