PWA and hosting requirements

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The Progressive Web App (PWA) are a very hot item in the current development scene. Many people who work in the IT branch are actually studying and thinking about them. But the fact is, there aren’t many real cases yet to adequately show the technology.

This is particularly true of the European retail market. Therefore, it is worth putting the spotlight on Progressive Web Apps and their possible benefits.

But actually, what are PWAs? And what extra opportunities and features does this new technology have in store for online stores using Magento?

What is a PWA?

You’ve probably heard of the many qualities that Progressive Web Apps possess. Many tech savvy people believe they have the potential to advance the mobile web and help mobile developers reach more users, beyond the confines of traditional app stores. Sounds great, but what exactly are Progressive Web Apps?

“PWAs are mobile-centric apps that use cutting-edge web capabilities to deliver an app-like user experience.” This is how Google defines this relatively new phenomenon. You may not always notice this, but the native apps you buy in the app store are very versatile. Sending push notifications, working offline, uploading to the home screen, these are just a couple of important tasks they perform. Mobile web apps accessed in a mobile browser, by comparison, have always been more limited when it comes to the number and complexity of features available.

This is where Progressive Web Apps come in. These carry the functionality traditionally associated with native apps into the mobile browser experience. To do this, they use standards-based technologies and run in a secure container accessible to anyone on the web. Powerful users of the Progressive Web Apps service enhance offline functionality, send notifications, update content in the background, and regulate content caching. PWAs are launched from your web browser, but can be stored on your smartphone. Also, there is no need to download them. Therefore PWAs always remain up to date.

How do PWAs work?

PWAs work practically like traditional web applications, but are enhanced with modern web features and technologies. Hence the adjective “progressive”. PWA technology is based on open source standards and is based on HTML, CSS and JavaScript. When you install PWAs, applications will get their own window or link on the taskbar, if you are using Windows 10 or Chrome. If you are an Android user, the PWA will appear as an icon on the home screen.

Progressive Web App and Magento Stores

Magento recognized PWA as an interesting web solution. The company believes PWAs have the potential to change the e-commerce landscape, a revolution that could be similar in scope to the transition from conventional desktop sites to websites that rely heavily on responsive web design years ago. Magento has developed their own PWA which is called PWA studio.

Main advantages of PWAs

The enthusiasm for PWAs that Magento and companies like Google (who coined the term PWA) show is fueled by some important potential benefits these web applications bring to the development playing field.

Progressive Web Applications come with APIs, which allow you to run JavaScript in the background. This innovation is very useful when it comes to improving features such as preloading content, synchronizing and receiving data, and sending push notifications.

In essence, PWAs:

  • allow you to speed up and reduce app development. Currently, you often have to develop separate versions for Android and iOS. Progressive Web Applications are designed to work anytime, anywhere.
  • they are not only suitable for mobile devices, but also for desktops.
  • they are SEO-friendly. Google will likely favor PWAs in future ranking algorithms.
  • improve the performance of your Magento store.
  • provide smoother page scrolling and transition. This largely eliminates the need to reload pages.

PWA hosting requirements

But how are Magento Progressive Web Apps hosted? The main requirement is that the PWA is served by a valid and secure HTTPS connection. To take full advantage of background service workers, the PWA specification requires it to be hosted over HTTPS. In addition to this fundamental aspect, there are other requirements for implementing Progressive Web Applications.

You need to make minor changes to your server configuration to make PWA hosting possible. You can easily do this yourself when using an unmanaged VPS, but this is often not the case if your Magento PWA is to be run in a managed hosting environment.

It’s not a hosting requirement, but PWA does require browsers to support service workers. This tool is responsible for key tasks and features such as file caching, push notifications, content updates, and data management. All the most commonly used browsers like Chrome and Safari do this.

This is a small introduction to what PWAs are, what they work for and what requirements they need. PWAs are now the future, because they allow you to have functionality that the normal design either does not have or becomes complicated to obtain.

Andrea SaccĂ 
FOUNDER Bhoost Hosting

Sharing tips and insights on Bhoost and Page Speed Optimization

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