Tag: apps

Currently Reading: Progressive Web Apps by Jason Grisby

I’ve been reading Jason Grigsby’s new book on progressive web apps this past week and it’s exciting. Jason explains what PWAs are and how they work while while doing a bang-up job covering the business case for using them them, too. But perhaps you might be thinking that a PWA isn’t necessary for the project you’re working on right now. Well, Jason argues that progressive web apps are for everybody:

Should your website be a progressive web app? The answer is almost certainly yes. Even if you don’t think of your website as an “app,” the core features of progressive web apps can benefit any website. Who wouldn’t profit from a fast, secure, and reliable website?

One of the challenges I’ve experienced when thinking about how to apply a progressive web app to a project I’m working on is figuring out what content to cache. Should the homepage be cached? Do we make a custom offline page? What is useful information to provide a user in that context?

Jason goes there, too, and even describes how he tackles that for his own projects:

For cloudfour.com, we chose to only cache recently viewed pages because the main reason people come to our site is to read the articles. If we tried to anticipate which articles someone would want offline access to, we’d likely guess incorrectly. If we precached top-level pages, we might force people on a metered network connection to download content they would never look at…

That makes a ton of sense to me and I realize that the offline cache should probably be different depending on the situation and the website. For example, maybe a design agency website could replace the big flashy homepage with an offline page that only shows the phone number of the agency instead. Or perhaps a restaurant website could cache the food menu and make that experience offline, but remove all the images to make sure it’s not too impactful for folks on those metered networks.

Anyway, I think that Jason’s book is wonderful as it reveals to us all this complexity and a whole new set of opportunities to improve the design and experience of our websites, which, by the way, is something we should strive for in this new and exciting age of web app development.

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STAR Apps: A New Generation of Front-End Tooling for Development Workflows

Product teams from AirBnb and New York Times to Shopify and Artsy (among many others) are converging on a new set of best practices and technologies for building the web apps that their businesses depend on. This trend reflects core principles and solve underlying problems that we may share, so it is worth digging deeper.

Some of that includes:

Naming things is hard, and our industry has struggled to name this new generation of tooling for web apps. The inimitable Orta Theroux calls it an Omakase; I slimmed it down and opted for a simpler backronym pulled from letters in the tooling outlined above: STAR (Design Systems, TypeScript, Apollo, and React).

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Making SVG icon libraries for React apps

Nicolas Gallagher:

At Twitter I used the approach described here to publish the company’s SVG icon library in several different formats: optimized SVGs, plain JavaScript modules, React DOM components, and React Native components.

There is no One True Way© to make an SVG icon system. The only thing that SVG icon systems have in common is that, somehow, some way, SVG is used to show that icon. I gotta find some time to write up a post that goes into all the possibilities there.

One thing different systems tend to share is some kind of build process to turn a folder full of SVG files into a more programmatically digestible format. For example, gulp-svg-sprite takes your folder of SVGs and creates a SVG sprite (chunk of <symbol>s) to use in that type of SVG icon system. Grunticon processes your folder of SVGs into a CSS file, and is capable of enhancing them into inline SVG. Gallagher’s script creates React components out of them, and like he said, that’s great for delivery to different targets as well as performance optimization, like code splitting.

This speaks to the versatility of SVG. It’s just markup, so it’s easy to work with.

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