Apps have ruled the market for over a decade and the trend is going strong till date. Although, once a king is not always a kind unless the people have a better replacement. Progressive Web Apps fells exactly in this context. PWAs give all the functionality of an app while also retaining all the advantages of a website. Therefore, if you wish to know more about the creation and some other factors about PWA, read the article down below.
Advantages of having Progressive Web Apps
- App like Features: Most of these websites are created such that they give you all the capabilities of an application. A progressive web app gets you the capability of dynamic data as well as database access. Most of these websites take full advantage of a Framework. Also, the user experience is way better in case of a progressive web app. Unlike an application, they are also indexable on Google SERP, therefore, are better than apps in some places.
- Offline Capabilities: The main reason why a lot of people have started to go for Progressive Web Apps is that they can be run offline. As soon as you are disconnected from the Internet, a website goes down but not a PWA. With a PWA, your last saved information will be there in the system just like an app. Therefore, it is another really great advantage of this app.
- Performance: Well, unlike an application, these applications are actually created just like a website. The main reason would be the technology that is used for instance caches, stylesheets, images, and different other content. This makes the user experience of the user and increases the retention capability of your website.
- No Installation: Unlike an application, Progressive Web Apps doesn’t need to be installed on any system. These applications can even be installed and accessed through your system without actually installing it. Once the user clicks the icon of a PWA, it reroutes the user to the PWA that is available online.
- No Hardware Issues: Well, initially with the website, it wasn’t possible for the companies to push features like Push Notification that can be quite beneficial and productive for them. Instead of that, they needed applications. Although, with PWA, brands can easily take benefit of these features.
- No App Store Submission: Well, to upload an application to any of the app stores, the app should be created in accordance with their rules and regulations. Well, with a PWA this does not matter as it is deployed just like a website. Therefore having a PWA for your advantage have their own advantage.
What is ReactJS?
Why Consider ReactJS to create Progressive Web Apps?
Progressive Nature: ReactJS is best suitable to create something that is progressive in nature. The application made will be capable of running in a plethora of applications. Also, the user experience that the framework is able to get allow more user to stick to your website.
Nativity: Well, PWAs are exactly application, therefore, they are capable of providing a mobile-like native experience. Interaction with Progressive Web Apps feels exactly like an app.
Responsiveness: These web apps can be created for any kind of device. A progressive web app can be created for tablet, mobile, iPad and desktop. These applications are automatically capable of adjusting themselves as per the screen size.
Creating PWA using ReactJS
In order to initiate the development of our PWA, we need to set up our system. If you have already set React globally then this is not for you. Although, if you haven’t done it then you need to do it by typing the following command below:
npm i create-react-app -g
Now in order to create a ReactJS app, we need to use this script:
A folder with the name reactJS-pwa will be created inside your system. There will also be a manifest.json file that will be created along with the files. This file is important since it is responsible for controlling the appearance of your app and how it appears.
There will be a script written inside the manifest.json file. Therefore, let’s go through them to have a better idea.
- Short_name: This is the name that your application is going to take once it is installed on your system.
- Name: This will be the name that chrome is going to use with the “Add to Homescreen” button. Your app name will manifest like “Add app-name to HomeScreen”. In this text, the “app-name” will be replaced by the name that you will provide using the property. Just in case, if you haven’t provided the name then it will use the short_name.
- Icons: This property will specify the icon that will be displayed along with your app name in the home screen.
- Start_url: This is the URL from where your app will be starting.
- Display: This property allows the user to customise the browser view as per your likeness. It will allow the app to look native in your browser and let your app to go fullscreen and run on its own window.
- Theme_color: This will be the colour of the browser toolbar.
- Background_Color: This will be the colour of the splash screen that will be seen when the app will be launched on the home screen.
It is important to have a “manifest.json” file to make changes and deploy your PWA to the home screen. This file is important for the chrome as it places your PWA to the home screen.
There will also be a requirement of a “serviceWorker.js” file. This file is needed to get the service worker in line. A lot of people ask this question initially where is the file. Although, the file is generated when you start to build the app. The file is generated when the script create-react-app is made.
The command will build the project and stores everything in the folder naming “build”.
There is another folder that we need to talk about. The static folder holds all the js and CSS files. The index.html file loads all the file that is stored in the static folder. Also, the service-worker.js file stores all the service worker code while the precache-manifest.js file store service worker cache in an array. Here you can also see the manifest.json file which is responsible how are PWA is going to behave in the browser.
To see that everything works fine, we need to load the build folder in our browser although for that we need a browser too. To do that, the developer needs to install the HTTP server by typing the following script below.
npm i http-server -D
Now we also need an additional script to be added to your package.json file:
“start”: “react-scripts start”,
“build”: “react-scripts build”,
“test”: “react-scripts test”,
“eject”: “react-scripts eject”,
“start-sw”: “http-server ./build”
There are a couple of changes that we need to make in order for our app to be recognised as a PWA. To do that we need to change the unregister( ) call to register( ).
Now we need to rebuild our project by running the following command below:
npm run build && npm run start-sw
Check the serviceworker.js file created in the dev tools by reaching the following folders i.e Devtools>Application>Serviceworker. In order to check whether your files have been cached just move to the cachestorage tab and click on it to see.
On clicking, the developer should see a number of cached files. The files that are cached are index.html files, CSS/JS files, and the logo of React. It might not cache the files that our page is not using but other apps might use.
In order to see whether our app will work offline, they are a couple of things that need to be checked. The first although that needs to be done to check is by turning off the server. To do that simply press ctrl+c. This step needs to be repeated a couple of times. We can also simulate the offline mode while the server is actually running. For this, the dev just has to click on offline on the service workers. If the network tab is yellow on the screen then your server is offline.
Another step that needs to be done that we have a proper running PWA is to clear the cache of the browser. If the webpage we created starts to run error-free then it means that our PWA is finally ready. It is essential to clear the browsers page because otherwise, the website might fetch data from it.
So this is how a dev can create PWA using ReactJS. It is essential to recognise the potential of Progressive Web Apps because it simply is the future. If you are looking for an app development company to create a PWA for you then maybe we can help. To send us an enquiry mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have also written an on Top Progressive Web Apps Frameworks then click on the link here. We hope this article may have been of some help to you. Also, thank you for reading it until the end.