Progressive Web Apps, or PWA’s, are the talk of the town. But what exactly is a PWA and how can we define it? Broadly speaking PWA’s has to have the following three characteristics:
The app must load quickly even if the network connection is less than ideal. Service workers play a large role in making sure that when the app is launched from the user’s home screen, the user experience is totally lag free.
The app must swiftly respond to user interaction and show smooth animations. Some claim that half of your users will move away from your site if it takes longer than three seconds to load.
The app must feel like a natural app on any device. Your PWA should be installable, support full-screen usage. And your app shouldn’t rely on an app store to get to your user’s phones.
What is Contentful?
Before we go into detail about the benefits of building a progressive app, and how Contentful can help you stay on target, we need to briefly explain what Contentful is.
You can think of Contentful as an API-centric content infrastructure platform. This means that whatever kind you content you have stored with Contentful — getting it into your app is as simple as issuing a GET request. After receiving the GET request, the result will be returned as JSON. And you can store any kind of data with Contentful, not just text and images.
So if you know how to handle HTTP requests and JSON responses, you will figure out how to work with Contentful in no time.
How to use Contentful for your next progressive website project
One way to make sure that the code you carefully craft will indeed result in a progressive web app is to double check your efforts against the Progressive Web App Checklist. Below are three items from the checklist, and the reasons why you should use Contentful to help check them off:
Reason #1 - A PWA must be served over HTTPS
Solution — We use HTTPS everywhere
All of our APIs use HTTPS by default. This means that your content is always securely transmitted across the internet to your users. And the same is also true if your app is constructed to upload content from the progressive web app to the Contentful content infrastructure platform. If you for some reason want to disable HTTPS then we support that too — but we prefer to stay secure by default.
Reason #2 - A PWA must work cross-browser
Solution — We serve content to any platform
We don’t lock you into a particular architecture or a pre-defined way of creating apps. We leave that up to you — the professional developer. What we make sure is that you can always pull content into your apps using API calls and JSON. How you then choose to process and display that data is entirely controlled by you. We call it freedom by Contentful. And that freedom can be used to create apps for Android, iOS and every other platform that can run a web browser.
Reason #3 - A PWA must load quickly even on 3G
Solution — Our Content Delivery Network (Content Delivery Network) will take care of that.
Having a globally spanning CDN ensures that no matter where your users are located, they will have quick access to one of our nodes. So no matter if your app uses Contentful to pull in content in the form of text, or other assets like images, our high-performance CDN is there to make sure that your users have rapid access to the content they need — whenever they need it.
Have a look at our blog-in-five-minutes tutorial where we walk you through the few steps necessary to create a cutting-edge web application. The tutorial is also useful for learning how Contentful, with it’s four APIs, works under the hood.
We also want to recommend our Contentful Community forum. A place where you can get peer-to-peer support for anything Contentful-related. The community site is also the perfect place for you showcase all the cool things that you have built Contentful.