Progressive Web Apps: Offline Browsing

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One of the benefits of having a Progressive Web App (PWA) developed for your platform is that is can enable a richer offline browsing experience. For example; if a customer is browsing your online store when travelling on a train, they may have an intermittent connection which on a traditional website would interrupt their experience. If they are using a PWA, some pages and content will continue to be available – even when their mobile device does not have a connection to the internet. This capability is enabled by using a technology called a ‘service worker’ that will enable the specific content to be cached on a user device – and made to be available if they go offline.

Technically a service worker is a layer between the users’ web browser that displays your website and the web server that the pages are loaded from. We utilise a service worker to handle specific requests between the website and the server. The code of the service worker will reside the users’ browser, so this enables it to continue to work without an internet connection and serve specific content that the service worker has stored locally. In order to control the service worker, we write custom Javascript that will then enable a set of relevant actions to be carried out – like the instruction for what offline content the service worker should retain locally.

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