6
26 Comments

Who is building progressive web apps?

I’m very bullish on the future of progressive web apps and what they enable for the web. So much so that I wrote in detail about it here.

But I’m curious, who is building their apps as PWAs, and why? And has anyone built PWAs with the intent that users install them as desktop apps (not just as mobile Home Screen apps)?

  1. 3

    Every presentations build with our editor DeckDeckGo are PWA themselves too.

    So, basically, we have build a PWA to build PWAs 😜

    About the why?

    At first probably because it was fun but, when I think about it, I like the think that every slides being shared in that way is a good way to spread the information and enhance, hopefully, the user experience too.

    Performant PWAs are downloaded more quickly than PDFs, the information can be saved offline too and since their are build with the web, they can be enhanced with many dynamic features.

    1. 2

      Whoa! I love this. Gonna start using this for my presentations. Just signed up!

      The speed related to server worker caching is undersold on PWAs, so you're absolutely right about the performance compared to PDFs. Really nice work putting this together.

      1. 1

        Awesome, thanks a lot 🤩!

  2. 3

    Yup, I have set up totalvehiclechecker.co.uk recently as a PWA and to be honest, there is a huge speed difference. It is a shame that iOS makes it super difficult to install a PWA, Android is happy with it.

    I think it's the better alternative to App Store downloads, plus there's the clear benefit of not having to pay the app store commission's.

    1. 2

      Nice job making your site PWA! Agree about Apple. They are quiet hostile toward PWAs. Desktop PWAs are really an exciting advancement IMO and Safari completely prevents you from installing them. You have to be using Chrome or Firefox.

      1. 2

        Thanks! Yeah, I honestly think this is part of an education program for everyday users. We all know that a PWA bypasses the app store commissions which is a huge benefit for creators. But from a user perspective, it's so normal to just go onto the app store now and download things.

  3. 3

    Hey Justin, I built a PWA. I like the thought of PWAs, they're easy to build, you build once for multiple platforms, support is a little sketchy but it makes sense.... I am now rebuilding as a native app. People just don't get it, they are so used to going to the app store to pay/download an app, getting them to pay and add to home screen is still a show stopper.

    1. 1

      Yeah the paid part of this is probably going to be a challenge for a while. This is probably why streaming game services will be the first to really break through on PWAs. People will definitely pay and people already (mostly) know you can’t go through the App Store for streaming game services. I’m excited to see where the trend might push PWA interest going forward.

  4. 2

    I built Phojo as a PWA. (https://phojo.app) Mostly, I didn't want to make three different apps for mobile, Android and iOS, and being a photo journal, making sure it looks great on both desktop and mobile was important. And... I guess I heard the call of the new buzzword. :-)

    I've found that it works well, but... making complex apps using HTML/JS/CSS just feels a bit... clumsy. There are so many ways to screw yourself over. I recently built another app using Flutter (needed the full on-device barcode/text scanning functionality) and I found that easier to 'get right', mostly because, well, it is less 'free'. It wants things in a certain way, and you make it that way, and then it works that way.

    But, that worked well because I wasn't targeting the browser there. So, in the future, should I need another cross-platform app, it will be another PWA.

    1. 1

      This is really cool! I tend to have the opposite experience in terms of ease to build. I am a JavaScript person through and through. I build mobile apps in React Native. So building something truly cross platform with html, js, and css just makes sense to me. But I get the lack of constraint. JS gives you more than enough rope to gang yourself with.

  5. 2

    Good article. I built an app that turned out to be pretty popular (15M users) specifically because of the fact it was a PWA. Simply couldn't have worked as a native app. People install it pretty much equally on their desktop and mobile. I'm very bullish on the future of PWAs too — but the core strength of PWAs is also one of its weaknesses: with nobody in control of the format, making a PWA that works great everywhere is a very clunky process. In fact I'm building Progressier partially to solve that problem.

    1. 1

      Wow! Nice work and great write up about the experience. I also love the idea of Progressier. No code plus PWA is really exciting.

  6. 2

    I built my SaaS for thought organization & brainstorming (kind of an Evernote-Trello-Todoist mashup) as a PWA since the idea of building it once for all platforms was very appealing. It saved me time that I was able to spend making it all more polished.

    It works great across devices but the installation procedure still confuses people though... They tend to think it's just for placing a shortcut on their screen since they expect apps.
    https://Typity.com

    1. 1

      This looks great! You’re right about the confusion, though. It’s going to take time to normalize installing apps directly from a website.

  7. 2

    My online courses are (desktop) PWAs. For example:

    As soon as you click on Get started, you can install it from the top-right menu

    1. 2

      Very nice! Great work with these.

  8. 2

    I developed a PWA to help cooks calculate their recipe costs using their inventory. I have 10 years of restaurant experience 👨‍🍳 and wanted to share my knowledge 🤓during this period when many people might want to start their own food business from home. There is much I still want to add to it but it does all the basics so far and I'm proud of it.
    https://units.kitchen/

    1. 1

      Very cool! I love the simplicity of it. Well done.

  9. 2

    I'm building a PWA for flyent because I don't have skills for building mobile apps and we don't have any resources to hire a mobile developer. I don't think anybody installs them as a desktop app (it's easy to save a bookmark if you want to).

    1. 2

      I would highly recommend React Native if you want to build a native mobile app. If you have the skills to build a PWA, you can manage in React Native.

      To your point about desktop PWAs, I think they might gain in popularity if a platform like Apple restricts desktop apps to the Mac App Store like they do with mobile apps on phones.

  10. 2

    The post is behind a This post is for subscribers only block.

    But actually, I think it's right.

    Btw, your email got into my spam folder.

    Good article about the generals of building a PWA. I think it's a must-have in a modern web app.

    For example, I'm using PWA for all my Web Apps:

    1. 0

      Thanks! I am struggling with the membership feature. I have it enabled because I’d rather not have analytics software installed. However, a lot of people end up confused and mention the subscription block.

      I wonder if it’s the language or if it’s an aversion to signing up to receive content (even though it’s free).

      1. 3

        I think that you are absolutely right about putting this subscription-wall.
        I would only recommend to give at least some hints or previews for "private paid-membership-only" content too.

        1. 1

          Good call. I actually don’t charge for any of the content but the membership functionality always shows paid options. I’ll look into customizing that. Thanks!

      2. 3

        Yes, we have so many emails in our mailboxes these days, remember that "free" actually costs our time.

        1. 1

          Totally agree. It’s that never ending trade off between owning your audience (a mailing list) or letting a platform own it (Twitter, Google, etc). I’m definitely trying to respect people’s time and I actually haven’t even sent an email to any of the members yet. When I do, I want it to matter because time is important.

Trending on Indie Hackers
The unsolved mysterious disappearances of builders in public 🕵️ 24 comments The Notion API will go live as a public beta on May 13th 18 comments What do you think of my landing page 12 comments Any open-source engineers out there? This free tool I'm building can help your project! 4 comments Mobile (Cross Platform) Engineer Ready to Co-Found by Building 3 comments 50 Tips for improving your UI 2 comments