PWA pros and cons

When should you build a Progressive Web Application instead of just a normal web application? When is a PWA a good alternative for a native or a hybrid application?

If you are already committed to building a web application, you should definitely design it to take advantage of PWA technologies. The added cost of including it upfront is minimal, but will make a big difference in enhancing the user experience.

Progressive Web Applications are viable alternative for native or hybrid apps for most business and enterprise applications. These applications are rarely hardware intensive and are often budget conscious. In these cases, focusing efforts on building a single PWA instead of supporting multiple native platforms can help save development time and cost.

In general, it is worth evaluating first if you can build an application as a PWA before deciding to build a native application. The web platform is adding capabilities at a fast pace, allowing you to do anything from 3D acceleration to hardware access.

  • Progressive enhancement: makes any web app experience faster and more reliable but doesn't break functionality for those that don't have support
  • Single codebase for all platforms – cheaper to build and maintain
  • No need to distribute binaries and maintain backwards compatible remote APIs – all clients are automatically on the latest version
  • Low friction – no up front installation required to use the app
  • Easy to find and share
  • Still a new technology – all browsers don't support it fully yet
  • More limited hardware access
  • Limited performance for computation heavy operations – although WebAssembly is improving this