Monday, June 15, 2020

Your Guide to Selecting a PWA App Builder

Okay, I have a serious question. How many people actually enjoy downloading apps from the app store? Anybody? Personally for me I think it is a hassle. Going to the app store and searching for the right one, trying to download it but your face ID doesn’t recognize you with a mask on, forgetting your password and having to reset it. The process is so tedious! But thankfully it is not just us who thinks so. Google, along with many of the big players in tech, acknowledged that there must be a better way to do this, which is why they got together and came up with the idea of a Progressive Web App (PWA). (Side note: if you want to know more about the history of PWAs I would seriously recommend listening to Alex Russell talk about how PWAs came to be). PWAs are the best of both worlds when it comes to the web and native mobile apps. You can install a PWA to your home screen, but get to skip the download process. Plus, it runs faster and in low-service areas. So, hopefully you are here because we have finally convinced you that PWAs are the way to go. Woohoo! So, let’s not waste any more time and dive into what your options are for a PWA app builder.

PWA Builder

First up we have PWA Builder. PWA Builder was founded by Microsoft and is an open-source project with the primary goal of increasing PWA adoption. PWA Builder allows users to either start building a PWA from scratch, in which case you can download the builder, or you can put your website’s URL into the builder and convert a website to a PWA. PWA Builder also offers a variety of features to spruce up your PWA like an immersive reader to make reading content easier, authentication features, contact features that allow for names and pictures to be added, and more!

Google or Microsoft

Next let’s talk about Google and Microsoft PWA tools. These two kind of go together in the sense that they offer similar tools. They both allow for open source web application development, but rather than offering a platform to build your PWA, Google and Microsoft offer tools to build PWAs. So if you want to use either of these options, you want to make sure that you have coding experience and are ready to tackle a PWA on your own.

Google offers Chrome DevTools as an option for developers to build their own website or web app. They also have Codelabs, a guided tutorial that walks you through the coding experience of building all kinds of applications, including PWAs. Finally, there is Google Lighthouse which is an open-source tool from Google that provides a set of metrics to guide you while building your PWA. This can serve as a PWA checklist to make sure you have all the technical requirements necessary for a PWA like a web app manifest and service workers, and that they are running efficiently.

Microsoft also offers a similar set of DevTools that allow you to build a PWA on Microsoft Edge as a part of the Chromium open-source project. Microsoft offers a guided tutorial on how to build a PWA on Microsoft edge, a checklist of PWA requirements on how to create a good vs. great PWA, and DevTools to get you started. But keep in mind that Microsoft’s tools are the same as Googles as they will allow you to build the app, but no one will help you build the app.

Lumavate

Another great option for a PWA Builder is Lumavate (in my biased opinion I think this is the best option). Lumavate offers a platform that requires no coding and gives marketers the power to build their own PWA. There are also multiple PWA Starter Kits available for all of Lumavate’s solutions, the Lumavate Library is full of components and features, and a simple PWA tutorial is available to help you get started! If you are interested in using Lumavate as your easy-to-use PWA builder, you can schedule a demo.