19 Dec 2022
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Are PWAs the future of Sustainable Web Development?
Progressive Web Applications
This idea is almost as old as the iPhone. It was Steve Jobs himself who back in 2007 introduced a new way of creating applications that “look exactly and behave exactly like native apps”. After almost 8 years, Google introduced "Progressive Web Apps" and since then, more and more large and small companies launch their applications as PWAs, with Google and Microsoft in the first line. In fact, PWA are already listed in Microsoft Store and they are “first-class app citizens in Windows”.
PWA is more a concept or approach of the design rather than just one technology. It combines some criterias that web apps should follow to be defined as PWA, such as installable or re-engageable, so it can send push notifications. MDN has already compiled a list of all of these indicators and I would like to encourage you to check the documentation about this.
PWA is better
PWA has a lot to offer compared to native applications. It is easier and much cheaper to develop and maintain because the backbone technology is well known. And must be built only once for all devices, regardless of the operating system. It is also easier to share (just sending a URL), the content can be found in google or other search engines which means that it can be positioned using SEO techniques. PWA is also quite secure due to all the advantages of HTTPS, and it is much easier to ensure the origin or application as its URL should match the domain of the website.
PWA is more accessible
PWA is faster
By using PRPL patterns (pushing, rendering, pre-caching and lazy loading) the initial load time is maximally optimized, allowing quick access to applications on low-end devices and in areas with poor internet connections. However, just after the first visit PWA has almost instantaneous loading. Thanks to Service Workers API, Cache API and combination with client-side data storage technologies, PWA greatly reduces data transfer, saving resources on the device and creating a true offline experience.
PWA is smaller
PWA is sustainable
Who wouldn't want a fast and lightweight mobile app that works in the middle of nowhere and on every smartphone (even an old Microsoft Lumia 950 or an ‘almost vintage’ BlackBerry)? Of course, PWA has some limitations compared to native applications and can not always be treated as an alternative, but it’s a very good approach.
These techniques, such as lazy loading, responsive design and progressive enhancement, are nothing new or magical and are used in the design and development of modern websites. But combined with network independence and offline abilities, makes PWA truly sustainable.
As technology continues to evolve and improve, it is clear that PWAs will play a key role in the future of web development. By adopting this technology, we can build a more sustainable future for the networks and the businesses that rely on it.