Guide to Build a Progressive Web App (PWA) with ReactJS

If you are in the tech world, you may have heard about the Progressive Web App (PWA). These applications are the center of attention, the time Google came up with the term at their Chrome Dev Summit. Some claim that PWA is a powerful force that is reshaping the industry. Some people believe native apps will soon be replaced by Progressive Web Apps.
PWAs offer a unique blend of web and mobile app experiences, combining the best of both worlds. With features like offline capabilities, push notifications, and seamless installation, PWAs provide users with fast, reliable, and engaging experiences. As businesses strive to reach wider audiences across various devices and platforms, PWAs emerge as a compelling solution, promising improved user engagement and retention.

In this guide, we’ll explore how to leverage ReactJS to build a robust and feature-rich Progressive Web App and share some more useful information for the same.

What are Progressive Web Apps?

Progressive Web Apps (PWA) are the web applications that are built & enhanced with modern APIs to provide better capabilities while still reaching any web user or device with a single codebase.

Why Build a PWA?

Progressive Web Applications are ruling the tech world currently. Many companies are adopting PWA to get success.
A contemporary web application can reap numerous benefits and encourage greater user interaction by getting converted into a Progressive Web App (PWA).
Here are the reasons why you should build a PWA:

1. Performance

Progressive web apps load using HTTPS, or a secure origin connection. Both the app’s loading time and its reduction are aided by it.
For using a native app, the user needs to download and install it on the device. This would need memory from the user device, and if the user has less use of the app, then he would not space-up the memory for such an app.
The 10 progressive web apps can be much better than 10 native apps. For businesses that would prefer to use their web application on devices by just installing it rather than developing a distinct native app, progressive web apps can be a cooperative solution.

2. Offline

Web applications are designed to work online. When the internet connection goes off, the user will need to retrieve the information back and get its action registered. The problem with the web apps is that they are very hard to use offline.
On the other side, the progressive web apps can also work efficiently even when offline, because of the service workers. The service workers provide offline capabilities to the web apps and are responsible for the PWA’s to work even offline.
3. Fast Installation
The fact that native apps need to be downloaded from a store, such as the Google Play Store or App Store, is one of the biggest complaints about them. Before accessing the app, the user will have to install it, take some time to download it, create an account, and organize everything.
Progressive web apps can be saved on a device with just a button click; they don’t need to be downloaded from a store. They can be launched from the user’s home screen because they can function as a standalone window rather than a browser.
It makes a big difference to be able to save the app as a native app on their device. It will only load content when the user opens the app, conserving memory on the device.

Three Pillars of PWA Design

To create a PWA that feels as good to use as a platform-specific application, you must ensure that it is capable, reliable, and installable.

1. Capable

Today, web apps are more capable than they ever were. Recently, software for the web has begun to develop capabilities that were previously exclusively available to platform-specific programs.

2. Reliable

Regardless of the network, a solid Progressive Web App feels quick and dependable. Consumers should have dependable experience and apps that react to their input fast. Users with dependable experience are never left wondering if any interactions with the app were recorded. Animation and scrolling must feel fluid. Just as much as users need your app to function properly, they also need to believe that it is doing well.
One more thing that is important for reliable app is its availability regardless of the network connection. Today, people need everything fast; they won’t wait long till the loading. People will switch and go to the different app. Thus, it is important for the web app to load quickly even if the network connection is slow. Even if the app has trouble delivering requests to your server, users need the most recent stuff they’ve engaged with, such as media tracks, tickets, and itineraries, to remain accessible and useable. They anticipate that the app will notify them when a request isn’t possible rather than failing quietly or crashing.
3. Installable
Making your PWA installable will change the way people view and engage with it by removing it from the browser and placing it in a standalone window. Launching installed PWAs is possible from the taskbar, shelf, dock, or home screen. They feel like an integral component of the device they’re installed on because the user can search for them on the device and switch between them using the app switcher.

Components of PWA

1. Service Workers

The components of your PWA that are most independent and powerful are the service providers. They serve as an intermediary between the network and the browser. All things considered; an architectural project’s blueprint can be found in a service worker. You lay down a thorough foundation that will be required when your project is implemented.
In simple words, service workers manage your PWA in the background, overlooking all the features that don’t need user interaction.
2. Web Manifests
Web manifest is a JSON file that specifies how your PWA should look. It is required to configure the application’s name, major colors, icons, and other settings. To better understand what and how you might configure there, see the “Generate the Manifest with Your App’s Details” section below, where we provide an example.
Here are many examples of the keys for the progressive web apps react manifests:
  • Name
  • Icons
  • Shortcuts
  • Background_color
  • Categories
3. Application shell
The role of the application shell is to load the content quickly and use as little data as possible. It keeps the PWA fundamentals, such as the UI, even when there is no connectivity. Overall, the app shell serves as the blueprint for your user experience.

How to Create PWA App with React?

Here are the steps to create PWA app with React:

1. Create an Empty Next.js App

Here are the steps to create PWA app with React:

  • node –v

You should will get something like this:

  • V16.13.1
If you are getting the results like above, then everything is right. You are looking at your Node.js version.

You may even get the following notification:

  • node: command not found

Now, you must install Node.js before running the Next.js PWA app.

The next step is to bootstrap your Next.js PWA app. To accomplish this, perform the following commands:

  • Npx create-next-app pwa-app

Next, go to your folder and install the next-pwa plugin:

  • Cd pwa-app
  • Npm i next-pwa

2. Generate the Manifest with Your App’s Details

To give users an app-like experience, you should provide them with the application icons. Do remember that you will need different icon sizes to support devices with different screens.

You will also require icons that allow web developers to specify a full-bleed icon that the user-agent will crop to match other icons on the device. It allows Android developers to get rid of the default white background around their icons and use the entire provided space by generating adaptive icons.

Adjust configuration now to support the most recent standards. Purpose attribute should be included in the icon configuration, and it should have a maskable or any maskable value.

Maskable icons make use of the new specific key, “purpose”, to indicate that they should be used with icon masks. Transparent background icons’ “purpose” is set to “any” by default; you can use them for more than one purpose by adding a space between each selection.

Finally, move your icons and manifest.webmanifest file to the project folder’s public/directory.

It will look something like this:

3. Add meta tags to the _document.js

You can edit or add some wrappers in tags on any page of your application with the document.js file. This is where you link your manifest file, Apple device icon, and primary theme color.

4. Configure service worker for offline support

Now that you’ve set up your Next.js app and generated the manifest with app details, it’s time to configure the service worker to enable offline support. Service workers play a pivotal role in PWAs by caching assets and data, allowing your app to function even when users are offline or experiencing poor network conditions.

5. Implement service worker logic

Service worker codes are better written within Next.js with the help of the next-pwa plugin that can provide smoother implementation. With this plugin enabled, you don’t even need to create a service worker file, as it is created automatically for you, streamlining the setup process.

To set up the necessary manners of service worker, you need to edit the next.config.js file. This file has you choosing among caching strategies, figuring out which resources to cache, and configuring other settings for your service worker based on your app’s requirements.

6. Test and Deploy

The most crucial elements are to conduct your testing throughout different devices and network conditions before eventually rolling out the PWA. To prevent any issues during the design, make sure all the features work as expected: convenient navigation, app-like functionality, and performance accordingly.
After that you’ve made sure that there aren’t any bugs in your PWA, it’s high time to deploy it. Running your Next.js PWA on platforms such as Vercel, Netlify or Firebase Hosting is possible. They provide you with seamless deployment process and scale your app as needed.

One last thing to remember is ongoing monitoring of PWA performance after its deployment and optimizations if there is any need to improve the end-to-end user journey also.

Going ahead with this plan, you’ll be able to make a fantastic Progressive Web APP with the help of React and Next.js, providing users with an interaction that is readily accessible and pleasing offline and online.

Final Thoughts

To sum up, PWA is a merging of web applications and native web applications. By using the contemporary APIs with the React JS, businesses can build off the devices in record time, making the platforms interactive with the screens of every user without any log. The PWA has an offline mode as well as rapid installation and progressive additions of features that are socially compliant, making the users cheerful.

Vikas Agarwal is the Founder of GrowExx, a Digital Product Development Company specializing in Product Engineering, Data Engineering, Business Intelligence, Web and Mobile Applications. His expertise lies in Technology Innovation, Product Management, Building & nurturing strong and self-managed high-performing Agile teams.

Table of Contents

Subscribe to our newsletter

Share this article

Looking to build a digital product?
Let's build it together.

Contact us now

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.