This is the first post in the PWA series. I won’t bore you with theory but I want to tell you a story from the desktop days. This is a short story of a popular app that runs outside the web/browser.
Microsoft PowerPoint is a software that is used for making presentations. Back in the desktop days, making presentations was a creative job like the modern-day designers working with web apps. Presentations were highly customized for the audience. If the audience were students, a white background and times new roman text with a font size of 16px will be used. If the audience were in higher management, fancy colors with photos will be used.
The users using the PowerPoint software loved it so much that even today, people prefer PowerPoint instead of any other web app where you can make presentations.
It boils down to core elements like
On the web, we are expanding our boundaries with web API like geolocation, SMS, etc but we are still yet to get there. The native apps can directly read from hard disk, accessing and storing content.
Whether we had an internet connection or not, a PowerPoint saved on the hard disk would open reliably on the PowerPoint. The performance of the PowerPoint software was quite predictable. Even if the app crashes or the system restarts, the app would save and restore a copy for the user to continue his work.
When we install an app like PowerPoint we get
the app listed in the start menu
any file with a PowerPoint extension will be opened on PowerPoint by default
The PowerPoint will be deeply integrated with the explorer and when not needed the PowerPoint app will be uninstalled.
To sum it up, the desktop apps are
capable and fast
reliable without internet connection
Engaging with users and other apps on the native OS
PWAs are trying to be like desktop apps. For instance, the PWAs run in their window. The apps can be installed and uninstalled like native apps. The apps are reliable with and without an internet connection.
I hope you will remember the role and responsibility of the PWA by analyzing how PowerPoint had been working on the desktop for many years.