More PWA to Ya! (Progressive Web Apps, Part 2)

Image of power lines and a cloudy, stormy landscape

Last time, we got into the nitty-gritty on how to make your web application into a Progressive Web Application (PWA to its friends). I promised we’d dig even deeper this time, and show you how to make your web app a little more ‘native’ on Android – and how to deal with iOS Safari’s special snowflake syndrome.

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More PWA to Ya! (Progressive Web Apps, Part 1)

Image of power source at sunset

It’s project kickoff time, and you’re having a conversation with your client about what form the application will take:

Client: I’m thinking mobile app. Our users will definitely be using this on the go.
Dev: Sure, we can do a native mobile-
Client: Mind you, we’ll want a desktop version too. We’ll need to use it from the office.
Dev: Okay, well, a responsive web app-
Client: One of our priorities is definitely ease of access – we’ll need the app accessible from the home screen, ’cause who has time for typing in URLs, amirite? We’ll also want it to be useable offline, whenever people want to.
Dev: Ye-yeah, no problem, we can wrap your web app in a webview, bundle it up as a native app, and-
Client: Yeah, cool. So they’ll just be able to go to the site and install the app, right?
Dev: Well, no, they’ll have to download it from the appropriate App Store.
Client: Eh, that’s a no-go – this is internal only, we can’t have it showing up in the app stores. Didn’t I make that clear from the start?
Dev: …

The term your client was looking for is Progressive Web App – an application that acts like a responsive web app when accessed from the browser on any device, but can be installed to mobile devices like a native application. The link above makes the case for PWAs, so we won’t belabour the point – if you’re still here, it’s because you’re convinced it’s time to build a PWA.

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Downloading Client-side Generated Content

Captioned Cat

A young developer, new to the Tao of the client-side, comes to a Master of the way, and speaks thusly: “Oh Master, our application nears completion; and lo, cat pics can be drawn upon, and captions fixated thereto, for the creation of humour and the bounteous enjoyment of our users.”

“This is good,” responded the Master.

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Generating PDFs: wkhtmltopdf & Heroku

So, it has come to this.

Reports, yes, your application will have to have reports – in brand colours, with images and logos abounding, and probably festooned with graphs of various sizes, shapes and degrees of relevance to what was once a nice, streamlined set of data. This report has just become a part of the application ‘product’, meant not just to communicate, but also to entice and enthrall. Form has become just as important as function… and, did I forget to mention? It also needs to be exportable.

Exportable, portable, downloadable, shareable – because as I mentioned, it’s not just data now. It is now something clients/users need to be able to ‘have’, to attach to emails, send to their marketing departments, and incorporate into their powerpoints.

There’s a few ways to make this happen, but generally speaking, it’s time to break out the PDFs.

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Go Fetch 2! (JavaScript Fetch API)

Last time we discussed the Fetch API in general, taking a look at how it differed from the XMLHttpRequest API, and some of its advantages. Today, we’re going to take a look at a little library that you can include in your projects today that offers you localStorage caching for the Fetch API.

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