Progressive Web Apps (PWA) Back

As an architecture to design web apps to make them more progressive, there is a series of mechanisms like service workers,
manifests you can use to do such an enhancement.

What has advantages brought by this architecture? It can conclude in different dimensions:

  • Discoverable (can be found through search engines)
  • Installable (can be launched via home screen or app)
  • Linkable (can be shared via URL)
  • Network independent (can work offline or with a poor network connection)
  • Progressively enhanced (usable on a basic level on older browsers, but fully functional on the latest one)
  • Re-engageable (can receive notifications in real-time)
  • Responsively designed (usable in any devices with different resolution ratios)
  • Secure (can protect sensitive data)

This document mainly focused on what we can do in these dimensions.

1. Discoverable

To enable web apps a better representation in search engines (a better SEO), we can:

  • use some proprietary (所有權) technologies like Open Graph to specify metadata according to a specific protocol.
  • define a manifest file to describe the name, author, icon(s), version, or other resources.

2. Installable

Installation of web apps is a feature available in modern browsers. It allows users to install apps on their devices or add them to the home screen on mobile devices. For example, if we define such a manifest file, Chrome will show an installation icon within the address bar, where users can install it.

  "background_color": "purple",
  "description": "Shows random fox pictures. Hey, at least it isn't cats.",
  "display": "fullscreen",
  "icons": [
      "src": "icon/fox-icon.png",
      "sizes": "192x192",
      "type": "image/png"
  "name": "Awesome fox pictures",
  "short_name": "Foxes",
  "start_url": "/pwa-examples/a2hs/index.html"

Besides, we can also prompt users to install inside the app:

let deferredPrompt;
window.addEventListener('beforeinstallprompt', e => {
    // Prevent Chrome 67 and earlier from automatically showing the prompt

    // Stash the event so it can be triggered later.
    deferredPrompt = e;

    // Update UI to notify the user they can add to home screen
    const addBtn = document.createElement('<span>');
    addBtn.innerText = 'Add to home screen';

    addBtn.addEventListener('click', () => {
        // hide our user interface that shows our A2HS button = 'none';

        // Show the prompt

        // Wait for the user to respond to the prompt
        deferredPrompt.userChoice.then(choiceResult => {
            if (choiceResult.outcome === 'accepted') {
                console.log('User accepted the A2HS prompt');
            } else {
                console.log('User dismissed the A2HS prompt');
       = 'block';
            deferredPrompt = null;

3. Linkable

All web apps should be linkable without an app store or a complex installation process.

4. Network independent

There are some factors to detect whether an app is network independent. They can be:

  • revisited even if no network is available.
  • browsed any content visited at least once, even under poor connectivity.
  • controlled what to shown when there is no connectivity.

To implement those features, we can:

5. Progressively enhanced

The word "progressive" means that the design achieves a usable experience for users of older browsers and devices with limited capabilities, while at the same time having a fully-feature experience when the environment is capable.

To do so, we can use feature detection to determine different behaviours, and choose some polyfills tools like core-js, autoprefixer to add missing features.

The philosophy is similar with Graceful Degradation (平稳退化), but they are not the same thing, and progressive enhancement is more positive.

6. Re-engageable

It means users can be re-engaged by updates and new content, even when not looking at the app or using their devices. For example, a new incoming mail can automatically update the mail list, rather than needing users to refresh manually.

There are some related techniques we may need to know:

7. Responsively designed

We can use media queries and viewport to fit any device with different resolution ratio. It should be a big topic, and here is a suggested list of documents around this:

8. Secure

In addition to taking advantage of HTTPS, we can also use some methods to avoid XSS in web apps, like using js-xss, iframe sandbox, or Content-Security-Policy (CSP) Header to control resources.

Besides, it is a common case to escape HTML strings before rendering, when they are passed outside the app.

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