PWA – its genesis and history

09.01.2020 Angelika Siczek
people sitting and working on computers next to giant letters of PWA

What is the Progressive Web App? This is the name introduced in 2015 by Google. However, the concept that websites resemble mobile applications goes further. To better understand the importance of the idea for the development of modern e-commerce solutions and the multi-channel experience, learn the origins of PWA!




The beginnings of Progressive Web App          

PWA’s roots date back to 2000 and the creation of XMLHTTPRequest. This technology made it possible to recover data from the URL without refreshing the page. Five years later, thanks to XML, HTML, CSS and JavaScript AJAX appeared – a technique for creating better, faster and more interactive web applications. Thanks to it, the application communicated with the server in the background, without affecting the behavior and display of the page. 


All these concepts were based on similar assumptions. The possibility of linking them, the availability of both people and machines, a rich UI despite the functional core, but above all in the freedom of implementation and distribution at no extra charge.


Steve Jobs and his opinion about PWA

Google did not work with the idea of ​​PWA, but Steve Jobs, who presented it at the presentation of the iPhone in 2007. At that time, Apple wanted applications to increase the popularity of their product. Hence the idea of ​​Jobs to provide the possibility of building applications in the web standard. In his speech, he encouraged developers to start creating applications using this method. He was tempted by the lack of the requirement for additional tools and easy integration of the application with the iPhone. Shortly after this speech, the App Store was created. So you can see why Jobs wanted to promote PWA among external developers.


Despite the intentions of the head of Apple, the next decade belonged to native applications that strongly shaped the way and mechanisms governing internet service. They dominated the market and cemented Google and Apple’s position as major mobile technology providers. At that time, web developers were slowly getting used to Responsive Web Design, a technology that adapts the size of the website to the browser window in which it is displayed, thanks to its proportional layout.


The official birth of Progressive Web App

According to Frances Berriman and Alex Russell, the authors of the term “Progressive Web App,” the concept of a native application has always seemed archaic. They claim that they never had good search, good protection and only existed thanks to infinite updates.


In 2015, a new class of pages with better UX (User Experience) than traditional web applications began to appear. All of them were characterized by a desire to break out of the browser schemes, while maintaining their ubiquity and the ability to link. This class was named “Progressive Web App” and a year later Eric Bidelman, Senior Developer Engineer at Google, officially introduced PWA as the standard in developing web applications.


Giant Alliance

After the announcement of the new standard of web applications, its potential was quickly noticed and no one had any doubt that it was the future in application development. Google and Microsoft, despite competing in the technological field for many years, decided to shape the Progressive Web App together. This is a particularly interesting alliance, given that Microsoft had to leave its Universal Windows Platform API in favor of PWA, a system owned by Google. UWP did not achieve the success that PWA boasted, so this choice was not without sense. Jeff Burtoft, Principal Program Manager at Microsoft, admitted that Google is the father of Progressive Web App, but they are completely involved in the development of this technology.


Initially, PWA only functioned on Chrome OS, Android and Windows, but now developers can also publish web applications in the Microsoft Store. Apple joined this group only in 2018, but with some restrictions, such as no push notifications.



We now know that the development of PWA technology and its ubiquity is a fact confirmed by many important players on the market who have made complete integration into PWA. Their trust shows their faith in this ever-evolving standard, but also their willingness to seal its existence. After all, users are the last in the chain and dictate the demand for technological solutions. PWA is enthusiastic about the future and everything indicates that the future will be mobile.

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