Ever since smartphones came into existence and the popularity of websites increased, merging the two to create a phenomenal experience for the customers has been challenging for the developer community.
While many tools and frameworks were put to good use to develop the perfect blend of wide reachability and performance, the results were always sub-par. But in 2015, everything changed with the advent of PWAs.
PWA (Progressive Web App)
Unlike native apps, PWAs have a better loading experience, can function offline, and are discoverable by search engines. They are why certain brands such as Alibaba, Trivago, and Twitter offer a seamless browsing experience on mobile.
Advantages of PWAs
- Since a PWA is accessed through a browser, it is compatible with operating systems and mobile devices (tablets and smartphones).
- The user does not have to install a PWA on their smartphones.
- Technically, a PWA is a website, so one can rely on the power of SEO to boost its search rankings.
- A PWA keeps the users engaged with push notifications
- It has an app-like UI/UX, which can also function offline.
- The user does not have to update the PWA manually. All updates happen automatically.
Disadvantages of PWAs
- A PWA drains the mobile battery faster because it runs on web technologies that are not built for the mobile environment.
- iOS still does not fully support all the features of a PWA despite Apple launching service workers. The technology is more Android-focused.
- It lacks full access to hardware components such as Face ID and Touch ID, in-app payments, camera access, and so on.
What’s Trending in PWAs?
Research has found app development and maintenance savings can be greater than 33% if PWA can serve all mobile web needs. With features such as lightning-speed page loads, light page designs, and quick transitions, PWAs have managed to impact many brands positively:
- Mobify saw a 20% increase in mobile sales and revenues
- Lancome witnessed an 8% percent recovery rate in abandoned shopping carts via push notifications sent via their PWA
- Pinterest rebuilt its mobile site as a PWA and increased its engagement by 60 percent.
The popularity graph that PWAs are on has given birth to many frameworks for businesses to choose from for PWA development.
- React-powered PWAs have higher flexibility and are scalable with additional packages.
- Developers can deploy the same code for native apps.
- The rendering process is speedy because of Virtual DOM.
- Implementation is tricky due to the lack of a clearly-defined methodology.
- Migration from AngularJS is difficult due to the presence of JSX.
- The more you go for flexibility, the more functionality issues will go up in the React PWA solution.
Unlike its previous versions that required high expertise to work with, Angular 8 has two additional CLI commands, which simplify installing a web app onto a mobile device.
- Implementation is easy due to the availability of a clearly-defined methodology.
- Like React, it has a vast community of developers.
- Google maintains the code, which ensures smooth operations and support.
- CLI’s contribution has cut short the framework’s learning curve.
- It needs knowledge of Typescript to use the Progressive Web App development framework.
- Even though the learning curve has reduced, AngularJS is tangibly more complicated than other Progressive Web App frameworks.
- Just like React, one can use additional packages for scaling up the app using Vue JS.
- It’s clear and detailed documentation is highly commended in the developer community.
- Vue enables fast product delivery – perfect for building MVPs and smaller solutions.
- It offers the capacity for complex and dynamic applications.
- Although the code is new and easy to learn, there are few Vue developers in the market.
- Since any big company does not own the Progressive Web App development framework, its support team is tiny.
- The advantage of flexibility creates issues in the Progressive Web App frameworks when used.
An open-source SDK, Ionic, is based on Angular and Apache Cordova Progressive Web App frameworks. Designed in 2013, it has been used in developing over five million hybrid apps as of today.
What makes Ionic an ideal option for PWA development is its massive library of components for both iOS and Android. This can be used for building web pages running inside the device browser with the help of WebView.
- Since it is open-source, you do not need to purchase Ionic. Its cost of app development is also low, which makes it an apt choice for small businesses.
- Ionic can be used by anyone familiar with Angular and web technologies.
- It is easy-to-maintain with the help of debugging tools and built-in browser instruments.
- Ionic has an extensive library of plugins for accessing APIs which do not require any coding.
- Frequent updates require reworking the existing PWAs so that they reflect those changes. This can become cumbersome over time.
Just like Vue, Svelte is also a new component-based framework. Although written fundamentally differently, it positions itself as a “reactive framework” in the market. It is distributed under the MIT license. Its most recent version was released in 2019, which was instantly adopted by The New York Times and GoDaddy.
- Svelte provides faster page loading, a smaller bundle size, and syntactic analysis and execution using a leaner code.
- The framework is versatile yet simple as it enables plain CSS along with various CSS Progressive Web App frameworks.
- The Svelte starter template includes the PWA package, which covers essential server workers and boilerplates for meta-data social sharing.
- The framework is very new, which means community support is almost negligible.
- Implementation can be tricky because the documentation has not been appropriately developed yet.
- It has no support for TypeScript.
Developed by Google, Polymer is also an open-source web app framework. Comprising a range of templates, PWA tools, and web components, it uses HTML, JS, and JSS, making it an independent framework.
Moreover, Polymer’s tools and components are supported on multiple browsers such as Chrome and Opera. This feature makes the Polymer highly accessible and adaptable.
- The APIs are relatively easy to understand.
- It comes with excellent documentation, which simplifies the implementation process.
- Polymer enables full web app stack support, including responsive layouts, data tier, and routing.
- Polymer lacks an office IDE.
- The framework is not SEO-optimized, which defeats the purpose of building a web app.
- It has a high page reloading time, which is unlike PWAs.
- Sometimes, the Progressive Web App development framework requires debugging tools due to the embedded development tools present in it.
Founded by Microsoft, it is an open-source PWA framework that offers one of the fastest ways to develop components for a web app responsive across devices and platforms. PWABuilder has a strong community of developers and also supports Android and iOS app development.
- It converts websites into PWAs with little or no development work.
- PWABuilder offers the easiest way to start the development process; enter the URL in the input line, after which it analyzes the components necessary to build PWAs.
- One can either download the generated PWA package or enhance the web app with additional features.
- The disadvantage of flexibility creates issues in the PWA when used. It isn’t easy to customize the web app!
- The automated process also makes managing things harder.
In this day and age, the value of PWAs is undeniable, so please make sure you choose a perfect Progressive Web App development framework for your business in terms of size, expected scalability, presence of interactive elements, and complexity.