Read along this guide to learn how to build a React progressive web application! Also, learn about what is PWA, what are its benefits, and what the core technologies soft PWAs.
What do you mean by Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)?
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are innovative web applications that combine the advantages of both native and web applications. They harness hardware capabilities while maintaining cross-platform compatibility, offering a faster, cost-effective, and user-friendly alternative to traditional native apps.
A notable example of a PWA is the Pinterest app, accessible seamlessly on mobile and desktop devices. Since its introduction by Google at the Chrome Dev Summit in 2015, Progressive Web Applications (PWAs) have garnered significant attention in IT.
Progressive Web Applications (PWAs): Core Technologies
Web technologies that help to give a start to building a progressive web app are as follows:
1. Service Workers
These background scripts enable offline functionality by caching and managing files, ensuring a smooth user experience.
2. Web Manifests
Defined in JSON format, these files describe the PWA's appearance, including app details, icons, theme color, and launch style.
3. Application Shell
This essential component enables fast performance and is crucial for progressive web applications featuring dynamic content and fixed navigation.
Essential steps to build a PWA using React
Creating a Progressive Web App (PWA) with React is straightforward, thanks to the framework's speed, performance, developer-friendliness, and popularity.
Step 1: Start with a Progressive Web App Manifest
A web app manifest is a crucial component that informs the browser about your progressive web application's behavior when installed on a user's device. The provided JSON file comprises crucial information regarding the application, including its name, the icon to appear on the home screen, and the designated link when launching the app. Notably, browsers like Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Opera, and the Samsung browser support web app manifests, while Safari offers limited support.
To integrate a manifest into your React PWA, follow these steps:
a. Create the manifest file with the required details.
b. Add a `<link>` tag referencing the manifest file in the `<head>` section of every page in your PWA.
<link rel="manifest" href="/manifest.json" />
For comprehensive guidance on creating PWA manifests, refer to the official W3C documentation.
Step 2: Incorporate Service Workers
Service workers are essential for progressive web applications as they operate separately from the main browser thread, intercept network requests, cache data, manage offline content, and deliver push notifications. These workers enable PWAs to control network requests, enhance performance through data caching, and ensure access to cached content even offline. They can also receive push messages from servers and send push notifications to users, similar to native apps.
Here's how to add service workers to your React PWA:
c. Implement logic to install and activate the service worker.
Service workers are subject to a few technical considerations:
They require HTTPS to prevent security vulnerabilities.
They cannot directly access the DOM but use `postMessage()` for communication.
They cannot use synchronous XHR and localStorage.
For detailed instructions on registering, installing, and activating service workers, consult the Google Developers documentation.
Note: While many modern browsers, such as Google Chrome, seamlessly support service workers, some older browsers may not. Your app will function like a standard web application when service worker support is lacking. To prevent potential errors or crashes, verifying the client's browser for service worker support is essential. You can also go for any professional PWA app development company to make the process easier and faster.
Step 3: Test Your PWA
After configuring your React PWA and integrating service workers, it's crucial to validate whether your application complies with PWA standards. Google provides an official tool called Lighthouse to assess PWAs. Here's how to test your PWA:
a. Download and install the Lighthouse Chrome extension.
b. Launch Lighthouse testing on your website.
c. Review the results. A score of 100 percent indicates that your app is optimized as a PWA. If your score falls below 100 percent, Lighthouse will provide specific recommendations to improve performance.
Advantages of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)
There are many advantages to getting PWAs. Let us understand some of them:
PWAs are loaded from secure origins using HTTPS, which enhances security and reduces load times. This results in faster and better work capacity.
2. Storage Efficiency
Unlike native apps that require installation and consume device memory, PWAs can be saved on a user's device with a simple click. This eliminates the need for users to download and install multiple apps, saving both storage space and time.
3. Offline Functionality
PWAs leverage service workers to provide offline capabilities. Service workers can cache content, allowing the PWA app development to function even when the internet connection is slow or unavailable. This ensures a seamless user experience regardless of network conditions.
4. Fast Installation
You don't have to download PWAs from the app store. Users can easily download it from the browser, making the process more convenient.
What to consider to create high-quality PWAs?
Choosing the "best" framework for PWAs depends on various factors, including project requirements, developer expertise, and personal preferences. Both React.js and Angular.js are capable of building excellent PWAs, but they cater to different needs.
Custom Web Application Development with React involves several steps. First, you need to implement a web app manifest to define your app's behavior. Then, integrating service workers is important for caching and offline functionality. Finally, conducting thorough testing using appropriate tools is crucial to ensure your PWA meets the required standards. You will surely get a good result. By following the above steps, it is possible to develop a high-performing, dependable, and captivating web application that offers users an experience similar to a native app on various devices and browsers.