October 29, 2020 - How can you make your daily work more flexible and independent with a Progressive Web App (PWA)?

Do you need access to your database when you are without an internet connection? This is possible with progressive web apps. In this blog we will review the benefits of using PWA.

1. What is a PWA and how can it make your daily work more independent?

A progressive web app is a website that takes advantages of native app functionality to greatly improve their website usability. It can also be described as a combination of a responsive website and a native app. A PWA shows the desired functions of your website in the event of disconnection. The image below demonstrates how a PWA works.

When data is retrieved from the online application, the cache is filled. The data can be loaded from the cache in the absence of a connection. If the application wants to send offline data, it is stored in the browser’s internal IndexedDB and sent automatically when it is reconnected. The function of caching and synchronizing data is realized with a service worker. Therefore, data is available at any time and synchronize automatically as soon as an internet connection can be established.

What is a PWA and how can it make your daily work more independent

2. Which problems can a PWA solve?

A PWA can combine the advantages of a native app with those of a conventional website. The usability is comparable with native apps, however it can be implemented as easily as a website. But a PWA is not an app. It is a website that can use features from native app functionality. For example, a PWA can easily be saved on the home screen like a normal mobile app.

Why not directly develop a mobile app? A PWA does not require an installation and it is available independently from app stores. The registration in the popular app stores is usually a costly step. A PWA is a more cost-effective alternative to that. A PWA can be accessed via an URL on the internet and it operates in your browser. That means that it basically runs on all operating systems. Another problem of native apps is that the company must develop more than one mobile app. It has to be developed an app for android and iOS separately. The PWA solves this problem and you only have to develop one progressive web app to use it on all mobile devices.

A PWA can be developed with Oracle´s low- code development platform APEX as it is operating in an Oracle Database. By default, APEX is a part of all Oracle Database editions. Hence the only cost to publish the web application on mobile devices is the development effort. No additional license costs are required. This is another reason why it is more cost effective to develop a PWA than a native app. Another advantage is that web database applications can easily be converted to a progressive web app with APEX. One more advantage of a PWA is that you do not have to install updates. As soon as there is an internet connection, the application checks automatically for the latest version.

Which problems can a PWA solve?

3. Solution for a customer-specific problem

The following describes one of our customers use cases Apps Associates implemented a PWA by using APEX technology. Our Customer works in the construction industry and inspects land and buildings. Unfortunately, there is often no internet connection in a rural environment. However, our customer needs to categorize detailed building dimensions and photos of the individual objects.

An offline database could be the solution. This particular problem was solved by Apps Associates with a Progressive web app. The application enables our customer to categorize the data without an internet connection. Once the connection is back the PWA synchronizes the data automatically to the base system and database. Even desired data can be loaded from the cache as well.

Solution for a customer-specific problem

As you can see there is a lot of value to using PWA. It is possible to access to a database even without an internet connection and it has a better usability than traditional websites. A PWA can save a lot of development costs, because Apex is a part of all Oracle Database Editions. One more Advantage is that a PWA can easily be saved on the home screen via the website and it need not a registration in the app stores. A PWA combine the features of traditional websites and native apps on an efficient way. If you are interested in learning more, please reach out to Apps Associates.

Co-Author
Jakob Drees is an IT Consultant in Dortmund, Germany. He has been working with Apps Associates for more than 2 years on database application development with Oracle APEX.

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