Let’s first understand what progressive web applications (PWAs) are. PWAs are web applications developed using web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Still, they are not the same as traditional web applications that run on your browser only, as they can run on various platforms, including Android, iOS, and Windows.

Additionally, PWAs have several features like Native apps, such as offline functionality, push notifications, the ability to be installed on a user’s device, and performance comparable to that of a native mobile app.

PWAs have gained popularity because businesses can create applications with a single codebase that can run on different platforms and can be accessed through websites, resulting in a significant reduction in development costs.  You can enable advanced functionalities and maximize the potential of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) with the help of an experienced React JS development company.

One popular example of a PWA is Twitter. You can install the Twitter PWA on your devices, and you’ll notice that it operates smoothly, much like other applications on your device.

Step 1: Set up a React app

Creating a PWA (Progressive Web App) with React involves several steps, including setting up a React app, registering a service worker, configuring the Web Application Manifest, and testing your PWA. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

In this tutorial, we will be using the React App tool, also known as Create React App (CRA), which provides a user-friendly environment for those who are unfamiliar with developing Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) using React. 

CRA enables the utilization of the latest JavaScript features while incorporating Babel and Webpack seamlessly. Using CRA, you can set up and initialize your application effortlessly by executing the necessary terminal commands:

npx create-react-app my-pwa –template cra-template-pwa 

So, when you run the provided command, it will create a new React application with the name “my-pwa” using the “cra-template-pwa” template. The generated project will have the default configuration for building a PWA, and you can start developing your web application from there.

Now run the below command:

cd cra-pwa 

This is a command to change the current working directory. cd stands for “change directory.” In this case, you are navigating to a directory named “cra-pwa.” When you run this command, the shell will change the current working directory to the “cra-pwa” directory. This means you will start working in the “cra-pwa” directory, and any subsequent commands you run in the terminal will operate within that directory.

Now run this command:

npm start 

Running npm start will typically start a development server that serves your React app, and you can access it in a web browser at a specified URL, such as http://localhost:3000. 

You can then make changes to your code, and the development server will automatically reload the application in the browser, making it easier for you to develop and test your application.

Step 2: Register a Service Worker

A service worker is a JavaScript script that runs in the background, separate from the web page, enabling offline functionality and push notifications. We need to register a service worker to enable offline running and push notification capabilities to our application.

The PWA template created in the previous step already includes a service worker file, but it’s currently unregistered.

  1. Open the “src/registerServiceWorker.js” file.
  2. Change the “unregister()” call to “register()”:

serviceWorker.register();

Save the file.

Step 3: Configure the Web Application Manifest

The Web Application Manifest is a JSON file that provides information about your PWA, such as its name, description, icons, and startup options. This file allows browsers to install your PWA as an app on the user’s device.

  1. Open the “public/manifest.json” file. It will look like this: 
  1. Edit the manifest properties as needed, including:
    • “name”: The name of your PWA app
    • “description”: A brief description of your PWA app
    • “start_url”: The URL of the main page of your PWA app
    • “display”: Controls how the PWA app should be displayed on the user’s device, such as “standalone” for app-like behavior
    • “background_color”: The background color of your PWA app
    • “theme_color”: The primary color of your PWA app
    • “icons”: An array of objects specifying the icons for different sizes and densities

Save the file.

Step 4: Test your PWA

  1. Start the development server:

npm start

  1. Open your PWA app in a browser window.
  2. To test offline functionality, open your PWA app while disconnected from the internet.
  3. To test push notifications, you’ll need to set up a push notification service.
  4. To test the installation prompt, open your PWA app on a mobile device and tap the “Add to Home Screen” button.

You can also test your Progressive Web App (PWA) using Lighthouse, which is a tool integrated into Chrome DevTools for assessing the quality and performance of web applications; you can follow these steps:

Open your PWA in Google Chrome: Make sure you are using Google Chrome, as it has built-in support for Lighthouse.

Launch Chrome DevTools: Open your PWA in Chrome and then open the Chrome DevTools. You can do this by right-clicking on your web page and selecting “Inspect” or by pressing `Ctrl + Shift + I` (or `Cmd + Option + I` on macOS).

Access Lighthouse: In the DevTools panel, you’ll see a few tabs like “Elements,” “Console,” etc. Look for the “Lighthouse” tab and click on it.

Generate a Report: In the Lighthouse tab, you’ll find a button labeled “Generate report.” Click on it to start the auditing process.

Select Auditing Options: Lighthouse provides various categories for auditing your web app, such as Performance, Accessibility, Best Practices, and SEO. You can choose the categories you want to audit. For a PWA, you may want to include the “PWA” category.

Run the Audit: After selecting the desired categories, click the “Generate Report” button to run the audit. Lighthouse will simulate loading your web page and perform various checks to evaluate the PWA’s performance, accessibility, and other criteria.

Review the Results: Lighthouse will generate a report with scores and recommendations for improving your PWA. You can review the results, identify any issues, and follow the recommendations to enhance your PWA’s quality and performance.

Iterate and Improve: After reviewing the report, you can make necessary improvements to your PWA based on Lighthouse’s recommendations. Running the audit multiple times and refining your web app is a good practice to ensure it meets PWA standards.

Lighthouse is a valuable tool for testing your PWA against various criteria, including PWA-specific requirements, performance, accessibility, best practices, and SEO. By addressing any issues and following best practices, you can optimize your PWA for a better user experience.

Once you’ve tested your PWA and are satisfied with its functionality, you can build the production-ready version for deployment.

npm run build

Web applications v/s Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)

Web applications and Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) run in a web browser, but the PWAs can also run on operating systems and users can install them on their devices. Here’s a comparison between web applications and PWAs:

Web Applications:

  1. Web applications refer to the traditional web pages we access through a web browser like Chrome, Firefox, or Safari.
  2. They are developed using a combination of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
  3. Web applications may or may not be optimized for mobile devices and may not provide a smooth experience on smaller screens.
  4. Web applications rely on an active internet connection in order to operate effectively. They do not work offline. 
  5. They do not have features like push notifications or the ability to be installed on a user’s device.
  6. Web applications are usually accessed by entering a URL in the browser or through bookmarks.
  7. They lack the ability to integrate with the device’s hardware and features (e.g., camera or geolocation) in the same way that native apps or PWAs can.

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs):

  1. PWAs are a specific type of web application designed to provide a more app-like experience to users.
  2. They are also built using web technologies (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript), but they include features to enhance the user experience.
  3. PWAs are responsive and designed to work well on both desktop and mobile devices. They offer a consistent experience across different screen sizes.
  4. One of the key features of PWAs is offline functionality. They can work even when there is no internet connection, thanks to the use of service workers for caching resources.
  5. PWAs can send push notifications to users, making them similar to native mobile apps in this regard.
  6. Users can install PWAs on their devices, which allows them to appear on the home screen or app menu. This installation makes them easily accessible and provides a more app-like experience.
  7. PWAs can access device hardware and features, such as the camera, geolocation, and even Bluetooth, using web APIs.
  8. PWAs are served over HTTPS for security and require a manifest file that describes the app’s name, icons, and other information.

Summary

In summary, web applications are traditional websites that require a constant internet connection. At the same time, PWAs are a type of web application that offers a more app-like experience with features like offline access, push notifications, and device hardware integration. PWAs aim to bridge the gap between web and native mobile apps, providing a responsive and engaging user experience across various platforms.

Are you ready to transform your web presence into a fast, reliable, and engaging experience for your users? Look no further. Our team of skilled React.js developers is here to help you build a cutting-edge Progressive Web App (PWA) that leverages the latest web technologies to provide an exceptional user experience.

By Admin

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