Over the 18 months, the team at CSE have been furthering the development of our software skills and have invested time in some emerging technologies that we see as having a significant influence in future software development. The most notable of these is the maturing web framework that is Progressive Web Applications (PWA) and the implementation of this framework through Microsoft Blazor. We have seen Rich Internet Application frameworks developed in the past. Frameworks such as Microsoft Silverlight and Adobe Flash, which ran compiled code within a browser sandbox, have come and gone. Unlike these proprietary solutions, PWA applications are built using open, standardized web technologies. The potential of this is being seen in increasing support of the technology in modern, popular browsers, e.g. Google Chrome, Apple Safari and Microsoft Edge.
The ability to install PWA web applications on your device has made it possible for modern web sites to be even more like standalone applications, removing the clutter by stripping the browser elements like the chrome and menus from the user interface.
Being platform-agnostic also means that as developers we don’t need to build different applications for iOS, Android and desktop. There is no need for them to be published through the mobile app stores and be dependant upon them to deliver the latest update. It can also result in a significant reduction in the storage footprint on the device compared to a native app.
Car Checker sample by Steve Sanderson is a sample project demonstrating how these technologies can be combined to deliver a business solution. He shows how to build an application for a Car Rental company to report any damage, mileage and fuel remaining when the car is returned by the customer. The application can be installed so that it behaves like a native application (Windows 10, Mac, iOS and Android) and the user can retrieve or enter data regardless of whether the device is on or offline. Watch the on-demand walk-through for this on Channel 9 below.
Having recently developed a real-world solution for one of our clients using this technology, we certainly see this as an emerging web application technology which has legs!