Elevating Web Apps to Native App Standards with PWAs

Combining the best of both Web and Native Apps.

Roland Sankara
3 min readDec 8, 2023

In the ever-evolving realm of web development, Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) have emerged as a game-changer, seamlessly blending the best of web and native applications.

This comprehensive guide brings together insights from a recent DevFest (DevFest 2023) talk I gave, covering the why, how, and what of PWAs, along with essential components and limitations.

Let’s dive into the world of PWAs and discover how they elevate web applications to native app standards.

Why Progressive Web Apps?

PWAs have become a buzzword in the web development community, and for good reason. The talk at DevFest highlighted key reasons behind the widespread adoption of PWAs:

  1. Seamless User Experience: PWAs provide a native app-like experience, offering a smooth and engaging interface across diverse devices.
  2. Offline Functionality: Service workers empower PWAs to function offline, caching essential content and ensuring continuous accessibility.
  3. Cross-Browser Compatibility: PWAs are designed to work seamlessly across various browsers, ensuring a consistent experience for users.

Web App Vs Native App (Capabilities Vs Reach):

The comparison between web and native apps served as a crucial part of the talk, highlighting the inherent trade-offs and how PWAs strike a balance:

  1. Native App Capabilities: Native apps boast superior performance and access to device-specific features, but they are confined to specific app stores.
  2. Web App Reach: Web apps have broader accessibility but may lack certain capabilities. PWAs offer a compromise, delivering enhanced features without sacrificing reach.
  3. PWA as a Compromise: PWAs serve as a middle ground, providing an immersive experience while maintaining the broad accessibility of web apps.

PWA Checklist:

A successful PWA adheres to a comprehensive checklist, ensuring it meets the necessary standards. The key components of the PWA checklist include:

  1. Secure Connection (HTTPS): Ensuring a secure connection is fundamental for user data safety.
  2. Responsive Design: Responsive design principles guarantee a consistent user experience across various devices.
  3. Offline Functionality with Service Workers: Service workers play a pivotal role in enabling offline functionality by caching necessary resources.
  4. App Shell Architecture: The app shell model separates core functionality from content, resulting in faster load times.
  5. Manifest File: The manifest file provides metadata about the app, enabling users to add it to their home screen and launch it like a native app.

PWA Components:

Delving deeper, the talk explored key components contributing to the success of PWAs:

  1. Service Workers: Background scripts enabling features like offline functionality, push notifications, and background synchronization.
  2. App Shell: Core elements of the user interface provide a foundation for quick loading and responsiveness.
  3. Web App Manifest: Metadata about the app, such as name, icon, and theme colors, enhancing the user’s experience.

Limitations of PWAs Compared to Native Apps:

While PWAs offer a host of advantages, they come with certain limitations, including:

  1. Limited Access to Device Features: Access to device-specific features like the camera, Bluetooth, and NFC may be restricted in PWAs.
  2. Platform-Specific Limitations: iOS restrictions and differences in integration with app stores can impact the functionality of PWAs.
  3. Performance Concerns: Graphics intensity and background processing may not match the performance of native apps.

Further Study References:

For those eager to explore PWAs further, here are valuable resources:

  1. Google Developers — Progressive Web Apps
  2. MDN Web Docs — Progressive Web Apps
  3. MDN Web Docs — Service Worker API
  4. Google Developers — Checklist
  5. PWABuilder
  6. Lighthouse
  7. Web.dev — PWA

In Conclusion: Progressive Web Apps are not just a trend; they represent a paradigm shift in web development. By understanding their benefits, components, and limitations, developers can leverage PWAs to create engaging, accessible, and high-performing web applications. Explore the provided resources to embark on a journey of mastering the art of Progressive Web App development.



Roland Sankara

Fullstack Web Developer | Technical Writer | Passionate about tech mentorship