Progressive Web Applications, or PWAs, represent an exciting development in web technology. They bring the functionality and user experience of native mobile apps to web browsers, eliminating the need for users to download and install them from app stores. The result is a seamless and engaging mobile app-like experience right from a website.
Have you ever pondered the idea of creating a web app that effortlessly provides a mobile app-like experience, eliminating the need for users to go through the app store installation process? Well, that’s precisely what a Progressive web app offers. PWAs have rapidly emerged as a valuable asset for brands seeking to both attract and expand their user base. As the user count grows, businesses gain more opportunities to enhance their conversion rates.
Another compelling reason behind the surge in PWA popularity is its sheer convenience. When visitors land on your website and encounter a PWA, they can effortlessly add it to their mobile device’s home screen with a single click. It’s that straightforward. As a result, an array of renowned brands spanning various industries, from Amazon and Twitter to Airbnb, Uber, and Starbucks, have all embraced PWAs to cater to their millions of users.
What is PWA?
A Progressive Web App (PWA) functions like a typical mobile application but operates within your device’s standard web browser. Once you’ve installed a PWA from a website, it runs seamlessly within the same browser that you used to access the website.
While there are various technologies available for creating PWAs, opting for Flutter is highly recommended for achieving an exceptional and efficient user experience. Flutter not only provides genuine cross-platform capabilities but also presents an exciting opportunity to transform your website into a highly responsive application, comparable to native mobile apps.
Why Choose Flutter for Your Progressive Web App (PWA)?
Flutter, as a versatile cross-platform development tool, empowers you to craft high-performance applications with remarkable efficiency. Leveraging the benefits of the Flutter SDK and Dart programming languages, you can create applications that cater to a wide range of major platforms.
The real advantage of Flutter lies in its ability to run seamlessly across multiple platforms with a single, unified codebase. This extends your app’s reach and enables it to garner a broader audience compared to native apps. Flutter’s unique edge comes from its robust web support, allowing you to effortlessly convert your mobile application into a PWA. This PWA version runs flawlessly in web browsers, achieving wider accessibility and overcoming the challenge of reaching a maximum number of users and devices. In essence, Flutter enables PWAs to efficiently reach and engage a larger user base across various platforms.
Flutter PWA benefits:
- Offline Accessibility: Flutter allows the creation of PWAs that grant users offline access to web pages by transforming them into app-like experiences that can be saved for later use.
- Improved Loading Speed: When implemented correctly, Flutter PWAs can offer a significant performance boost, potentially up to three times faster loading times compared to traditional web apps.
- App-Like Experience: Flutter’s rich UI capabilities and controls enable developers to craft PWAs that closely resemble native mobile applications, enhancing the user experience.
- No App Store Submission: Users can easily add these web apps to their devices directly from any website through their web browsers, eliminating the need for app store submissions and approvals.
- Cross-Platform Code Reuse: With Flutter’s cross-platform capabilities, software developers can efficiently utilize the same codebase to deploy PWAs across various platforms, streamlining the development process.
Requirements for the Computer System:
To create a Progressive Web App (PWA) using Flutter, you need to have Flutter installed on your device and ensure that you have the latest version of Google Chrome installed. Follow these steps to set up Flutter for web development:
Flutter’s process for creating PWA Steps
1. Install Flutter for the Web
FLUTTER CHANNEL MASTER
The command mentioned above will switch your Flutter installation to the master channel, which may require some time to complete. Once the switch is finished, proceed by running the following command.
FLUTTER DOCTOR -V
This step involves downloading the most recent Dart SDK, which may also take some time to complete. After this process is finished, we can proceed to enable web support for Flutter.
FLUTTER CONFIG –ENABLE-WEB
Once we’ve enabled the web configuration for Flutter, we can proceed to check for the available devices.
This command will display a list of available web browsers on our system, such as Chrome, among others. Now that we’ve completed the setup for Flutter web development, we can begin creating a new project.
2. Create a Project
FLUTTER CREATE NEW_PROJECT
Running this command will generate a new project using the provided project name and navigate you to the project directory.
This command is crucial for adding web support to projects that were created earlier. The use of “.” in this context is significant.
3. Run on Web
FLUTTER RUN -D CHROME
The command mentioned above will execute our application on the Chrome browser, accessible via localhost.
4. Build Project
FLUTTER BUILD WEB
Running this command will create the application and generate a directory named “web.” This directory serves as the project’s root folder. Here, we can make essential configuration adjustments in the manifest file, including modifications to images, icons, and themes, to align with our specific requirements.
5. Deploy a PWA with Surge
Surge serves as a popular static web publishing tool extensively utilized by front-end developers. For front-end developers, leveraging Surge represents an optimal approach for deploying static web applications into a production environment, including the publication of PWAs.
- Install the latest version of node.js
- Install surge using npm
- Windows – npm i -g surge
- Mac – sudo npm i -g surge
The command mentioned above installs Surge globally on your system. Afterward, executing the ‘surge’ command within the previously created ‘web’ directory will generate a live link deployed through Surge. This link will be presented as a domain with a .sh file extension. You can open this file in your browser to access the application.
If you wish to remove an application from Surge, simply run ‘Surge teardown’ followed by the URL name.
surge teardown <.sh>
- Check the App as PWA on Android and iOS devices
- For Android’s Chrome browser, go to the settings and select “Add to Home Screen.
- On iOS, you can add to the Home Screen by using the share button in the Safari browser.
To summarize, creating and launching your progressive web application (PWA) with Flutter is a streamlined process involving just a few steps. Flutter is a valuable tool for long-term use, as it reduces business risks. With Google overseeing its development, the chances of encountering issues in product development are minimal. Flutter’s capabilities make it suitable for PWA development, offering an optimal user experience that allows users to interact with PWAs just as they would with native apps. This positions Flutter as the ideal technology to employ for PWA development.