“Progressive Web Apps are experiences that combine the best of the web and the best of apps.” (Google Developers). Brief, to the point, and encompassing, in just a few words, all the reasons why PWAs have gained so much popularity over the last few years!
They sure carry loads of potential to shape the future of mobile web in the years to come!
Now let's try a “guessing game” and see if we can guess why you've chosen to build a progressive web app instead of sticking to optimizing your current site for mobile:
they're... progressive: they work regardless of the used web browser
they're not connectivity-dependent: not only that they don't need internet connectivity to run, but they do load fast even in the context of a terrible network performance
they run on modern web technologies
they're “clusters” of app-like features
they're installable: users get to add them to their own home screens and to reuse them with a simple click on their shortcuts
they're responsive out-of-the-box
they're not constrained to refresh entire web pages when they're loading new content
they send relevant push notifications
they load at full-screen
they grow more powerful with time, as the user-progressive web app relationship “matures”, so to say
Moreover (and this is no tiny detail, for sure), to the memorable experience that a progressive web app delivers to the end user, add the benefit of a relatively low-complexity development process!
Speaking of which, here are the 5 best tools to use to build a progressive web app:
1. AngularJS, Polymer or React
Yet, when you're planning to set up a progressive web app you should be more specific than that: you should “laser-focus” on one of its many tempting frameworks!
In this respect, here are the 3 ones that we recommend you to consider! Select your suitable core framework depending on factors such as your future app's complexity or the time limit that you need to adapt your workflow to:
the environment that its newest version, Angular 4.0, provides is the same for both for mobile and desktop web development
although there are plenty of tutorials out there that you could use, you might still find this framework to be too complex in case you want to build a progressive web app with just basic features and functionalities
By far this framework's most “seducing” feature is its component-approach to web development!
Besides its component-centered approach we could easily point out a couple of other reasons for choosing React to power up your progressive web app with:
giant Facebook supports it (and along with it all its worldwide users, which are constantly testing it, as a global-scale)... need we add more?
it's React Native's foundation, meaning that you'll be able to easily and seamlessly port your React-powered apps to native apps
thanks to the component-based UI, you practically get to deliver your future progressive web app to any browser, device or operating system; using Node.js and Reactive Native, those components can render both in the browser, on the server and inside the apps themselves
Now when time is a “merciless” projection of your client, Polymer makes the perfect choice of core framework to build a progressive web app!
It “spoils” you with:
… which stand for the perfect definition of a “fast app development process”!
Creating prototypes is, no doubt, the perfect use case for this framework! You can just make use of the template that Polymer provides you with for setting up the code of your app project and add on the client's input later on in the development process!
There's more! Since “fast” is the defining characteristic of this framework, where do you add that Polymer uses PRPL pattern for speeding up the app's delivery to the chosen device?
Should we mention, as well, that the template features the Google-emblematic material design out-of-the-box?
2. Webpack: An Essential Tool to Build a Progressive Web App, a Custom One
If the aforementioned Polymer makes a great choice for getting started, for setting up your apps's prototype, then Webpack gives you access to the next level! The one where you build a progressive web app that's more complex and front-end driven.
Its two major benefits:
In short: managing dependencies gets so much more streamlined with Webpack
If it's a lightweight, yet functionality-loaded, quick to set up progressive web app that you have in mind, then Knockout is the framework to go for!
Here are some of the powerful features that make it an indispensable asset for your toolbox:
it comes with a light library (13 KB), yet carrying a heavy load of functionalities
you get to “inject” its library into an existing website without extensive rewrite
it's easy to learn
it provides you with templating, meaning that building complex apps gets significantly faster (no more duplicated DOM elements)
it enables you to extend your HTML
it comes with a load of pre-built attributes (so you won't need to write them, yourself, like it's the case with other “rivaling” frameworks)
And this is how our suggested “arsenal” of tools to build a progressive web app looks like! Keep in mind, though, that this is an ever-changing list, considering the fast pace at which new web technologies emerge in the digital landscape!