Progressive Web Apps and the enterprise

I’ve recently been watching talks from Google’s PWA Summit while watching the various videos I could really see how Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) can really help in an enterprise arena.

For example a few months ago I was working on contract at the UK Houses of Parliament, for a team that built apps using web technology. We started building mobile apps using jQuery mobile, Bootstrap and eventually Ionic all great technologies (though Ionic is my personal favourite). While we could easily develop these apps it was the building and releasing the apps where we encountered problems.

The main cause of the problems was IT security. As you would expect security there was very tight, this also included IT security. So having access to tools like NPM or GitHub was restricted, both tools that modern web developers take for granted. We even had to download the Ionic framework ZIP folder in order to create a Ionic site/app.

So in order to release an app we uploaded the ‘site’ to an external host (a mission in itself). Then when a user went to the site they were told that they could add a link to the this mobile site on their phones home screen. Using the fantastic AddToHome JavaScript library. Then when the user clicked on the newly created icon the mobile site opened in a full screen browser.

For offline support we used appCache and if we wanted to record offline data we used localStorage, though it does have limited amount of space.

Now after reading about Progressive Web Apps, I can see where they would be extremely useful in situations where teams don’t have access to the modern build tools or app framework tools that are now common place in the web.

For the apps we built at the House’s of Parliament, Progressive Web Apps would be so useful. Using service works for offline support, IndexDB for data storage, push notification and the install on home screen features that are part of PWA are all features that we used at Parliament. And being able to release apps without having to build them or release through the apps stores, both of which access to them could be blocked due to the security settings.

When I told the team at Parliament about PWAs they were really excited. I for one look forward to seeing what they make with them.

I really think that Progressive Web Apps are a fantastic technology and I really look forward to working with them.

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