Progressive Web Apps

The Best Tools to Develop Progressive Web Apps (PWA) for Magento

best-pwa-development-tools

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) provide the opportunities for Magento merchants to achieve the best site performance possible. It empowers businesses to make changes and remove barrier so they can deliver a fast & engaging mobile experience. With speed and capabilities of a native app, PWA allows shoppers to complete their task quicker and therefore are easier to convert. 

While PWAs are quickly growing in popularity, there are a variety of tools that developers can utilize to create a better PWA experience. In this post, we’ll explore the best tools to build Progressive Web App (PWA) for Magento.

The best PWA development tools for Magento

1. React

First you need an application framework for your Magento PWA frontend. React is the most popular JavaScript-based library for front-end web development, with over 117K stars on GitHub. Backed by Facebook, the library provides the flexibility for building user interfaces using a component-centered approach. Focusing on delivering the best rendering performance possible, React allows developers to break down complex UI into simpler components. Each individual component is built with JavaScript so you can reuse the code to compose UIs instead of developing the entire app from scratch. In this way, React eliminates the need to manually rework on UI components that change frequently, so developers can complete their projects faster.

When it comes to web performance, updating the Document Object Model (DOM) is usually an issue. To enable fast rendering, React offers a more developer-friendly representative of the browser to work with. It utilizes the power of JavaScript to generate a virtual browser (known as virtual DOM) that serves as an agent between the real browser and the developer. Any view changes will be first reflected to the virtual DOM, which is kept in memory. By rendering only the necessary updates, it can promptly apply these changes in the fastest way possible. This is crucial to enhance user experience for a web app with high user interaction and view updates.

React is well-suited for large web applications, due to its high level of simplicity and flexibility. It provides a fast and efficient way to create rich, engaging progressive web apps for your Magento store, with a focus on user interface. Plus, PWAs created using the framework are SEO-friendly to ensure maximum online visibility for your Magento store. React has earned great credibility among top corporations like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Paypal, Airbnb,.. as the core part of their front-end development.

2. Redux

With JavaScript libraries like React, components internally manage their shared state in a one-way data flow, which is hard to keep track of where it comes from. As the app grows bigger, data transfer across multi-level components can become too complicated to manage. To solve this problem, React community has offered a robust state management solution, known as Redux. While the tool is intended and mostly used with React, it can be integrated with any other JavaScript framework or library as well.

Redux is described as a predictable state container to write JavaScript apps that behave consistently. With Redux, all state of the application is kept in only one place called Store. Store acts as a single source for all app data, which makes it easy for any component to directly access its needed state.

By centralizing all state of the application, Redux enables powerful capabilities for developers: You can implement tasks like infinite undo or redo, log changes to the data, persist state between page reloads and much more. Useful features like time travel is utilized to test and debug, which is the ability to move back and forth among the previous states and update view in real-time. Thanks to its architecture, Redux provides great advantage in maintaining state for React apps.

As React’s companion library for routing and state management, Redux allows for clean code, easy access of state and data transfer, efficient testing and debugging. With Redux you can be assured of better developer experience in writing PWA for Magento store. 

3. Webpack

Among the React community, Webpack is the most used module bundler for JavaScript applications. Without bundlers, running javascript in a browser can cause issues with loading too many scripts or unmaintainable scripts in a big .js file, especially for large projects. Webpack is recommended to solve scaling issues for complex PWA storefront, as it lets you easily create and manage dependency graphs. Utilizing Webpack, developers can bundle app resources, including all different kinds of assets like images, fonts and stylesheets,.. in a dependency graph. This results in great benefits for your PWA project in terms of page load speed and performance. With Webpack, developers have better control over how assets are processed, allowing for easier code splitting, stable production deploys and dead asset elimination. 

4. Material-UI

Developed by Google in 2014, Material is the most used design language for web and mobile applications. While Material design is a great starting point for your PWA project, their guidelines can not cover all aspects or needs of your app. Providing a refined implementation of Google’s Material Design, Material UI is one of the most popular and actively maintained UI framework for React applications.

The open-source library provides all React-featured components available for your PWA needs and more. Its UI kits are extremely configurable with defined color palette and custom color theme for your app. The customization capabilities allows you to match the PWA with your brand while shipping awesome UI to users. Focusing exclusively on React, Material UI is a good fit for PWA storefront is built on this library. It provides a great styling solution for the PWA, with simple installation process, reduced load time, intuitive overrides and dynamic styles at runtime. 

5. Chrome DevTools 

Chrome DevTools provide a set of developer tools built directly into Chrome browser, including debugging tools that let you inspect the web app, identify and fix issues on the fly. Building a PWA requires a number of different technologies, like Service Workers, Web App Manifest, Cache Storage and Push Notification,.. The Chrome DevTools has coordinated inspectors for each of these essential technologies in its Application tab. Using the Application panel, developers can inspect, modify and debug web app manifest, service workers, cache files for any PWA:

  • The app manifest view shows related information such as app name, start URL, colors, icons,.. It also give developers an option to trigger Add to Homescreen events.
  • From the Service Workers pane, you can perform several tasks including unregistering or updating a service, emulating push events, going offline, stopping a service worker.
  • The cache storage pane provides a view into service workers cache. With a single click, developers can clear all caches from the clear storage pane.
Service Workers

6. Lighthouse

If you’re looking to benchmark and improve the quality of PWA, Google provides an analysis tool to measure PWA performance, accessibility, SEO and more. Lighthouse offers a set of metrics to test the app and guide you in building PWA with a full app like experience for your users. The tool can either be run from the Audits tab from the Chrome DevTools or automated from the command line, as a Node module, or run as a Chrome extension, whichever best suits your needs. 

Lighthouse - The best tools to build PWA for Magento

Lighthouse eliminates the need to perform manual testing to audit your web app for PWA features. With the tool, developers can automate a series of tests against a given URL and quickly generate a comprehensive report of its results. From there you can access helpful data about how well the PWA is performing, failing audits that can be used to guide improvements. Each audit is provided with reference doc on how it affects performance and directions to fix these issues. The report is presented in an user-friendly interface, which is shareable via the Lighthouse Viewer so you can pass it to other online users

In conclusion

Building great PWA experience is the key to improve site performance and engage users. If you’re looking to gain a competitive advantage, it’s important to ensure your PWA is professionally developed and stay in line with industry best practices. SimiCart provides a platform to create a high quality PWA storefront for your Magento store, with powerful app customization and feature integration capabilities.

The Best Tools to Develop Progressive Web Apps (PWA) for Magento
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Perry

Marketing Executive/ Product Designer at SimiCart

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