Want to be More Productive? Checkout my Open Source Productivity Application

Progressive Web Application Using React - Part One

Let's learn to build a progressive web app using React, Redux, Webpack, Material UI, Axios and related technologies.

What is Progressive Web Application and Why do we need it?

Also known as PWA, It's definition is within its name, Progressive web applications are applications that are progressive.

Well that was simple, But why PWAs? What does it do? And what the hell does progressive mean in relation with web apps?

The thing is Humanity is going mobile, Not leaving the Earth but using mobile devices for everything from communications to entertainment to gaming to productivity, We are using our mobile devices for everything.

That's not really a bad thing., We're connected all the time and information is just a tap away., We're using our mobile more often and we're sharing like it's breathing.

You might ask couldn't we just build a native app for mobile devices and web app for the web?

This will make the user experience wonderful across all platforms, And now it's even easier to build mobile apps using React Native. YAY.


How many apps have you installed in your mobile device? I assume Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, CoC and few other apps but not Hundreds or Thousands... But there are millions (Google: ~2.8, Apple: 2.2) of applications available on the app stores.

Do you really stand a chance?

What are we supposed to do then?

We could at very least optimize our app for mobile devices by Making it's UI look great, making our app load faster, Caching everything we can and maybe.. also making our app work offline when there's no internet connection.

Seems like too much work? Not really., But we must architect our app with these things in mind.

And this is what a PWA is., You can read more about it here https://developers.google.com/web/progressive-web-apps/

The Checklist

This is a simple checklist that I compiled with the information I found and I use this while building Progressive Web Applications., You can read official Google PWA Checklist here.
Make sure our application is served over https making making it more secure., These days you can get SSL certificates for free.
Responsive UI
Our app must look good in mobile devices otherwise what't the poin.
Application Shell
Using an application shell is a great idea as we can cache this shell and display it to the user as soon as they open the app and then load our content from backend or from local cache/db
Making our app work offline, It would be great if the app can work offline 100%, If that's not possible atleast handling the offline usage in someway will be great.
Service Worker
This will take care of caching all of our assets, api resonses. We can also customize this to return response from cache when offline.
Add to Home Screen
We can prompt the user to add our app to their home screen, If they do allow it our app icon will appear in their homescreen and they can use our app like a normal mobile application.
Splash Screen
If a user adds our app to their home screen, We can display a splash screen while the app is loading, This will make the User Experience great.
Address Bar Color
We can go little further and customize the color of address bar using Meta Tags, This gives us more control and we can take our app branding little further.
Fast Load Even on Slow Networks
Making our app load faster even on 3G network will help a lot with perceived performance., This is very important and we will dig deeper into this.
Push Notifications
Hell Yeah, We will use push notifications to send notifications to the users., They must ofcourse allow our app to send push notifications though.
Experimental Features
Depending on what we build, We will also play around with the Credential Management and Payment Request APIs
This app will be 100% static and can be served from a CDN, I will be using Firebase hosting, they also provide free SSL.

We will go through each and every item in this checklist while building our application.

The User Interface

I love Ant Design but for this application I will be using Material UI, However I will try to combine the components from these Frameworks., So let's see where this leads us to.

I love how good the Material UI looks and how easily we can get started with it., And this is the first time I will be using this Framework so let's have fun together.

What's Coming Next?

We will setup everything i...e React, Redux, Webpack, etc (I won't be diving deep into it unless any of you really wants me to.. you can checkout my other tutorials for that)

Keeping in mind our Checklist, We will first build the application, make it work offline, add service workers, manifest file, test performance using Lighthouse extension, optimize our app for performance and then host it.

This is it for this tutorial, Let's continue in next tutorial.

In the meantime I recommend you checkout Material UI