How Are Service Workers Revolutionizing the Web?

Apple, the tech giant, recently introduced Service Workers in Safari 11.1. But what are Service Workers and what do they matter to your business?


Service Workers

Previously released for Safari Technology Preview 46, Service Workers enable background scripts to power offline functionalities in web applications. It allows developers to build progressive web apps (PWA) that can function even when offline. This means you can pin the progressive web app to your Home screen like any other app, make use of the camera from within a web page, sync data in the background, and more. With Service Workers ability to cache data offline, the enterprises, as well as developers, can leverage Progressive Web App and browser-based app development on iOS.

From a technical point of view, a service worker is basically a script that runs in the background in a browser. It has the ability to execute actions in response to events like network requests, or data transmitted by the mobile operating systems. It enables developers to create robust features like advanced cache management and push notifications. By installing a service worker in your browser, it can perform several tasks assigned to it independently, even when the user is not browsing your website. The Service workers functions in a way similar to that of a proxy server. It acts as an intermediary between the internet and the browser so as to enhance the user experience, especially by caching a web page's data.

In simple words, a service worker is a basic JavaScript file that runs in the background and that is powered by specific events. It intercepts information requests made by the server and sends out a response by processing the data received by the server or by offering a local version of the data if it has already been requested.

How does a Progressive Web App (PWA) work?

A Progressive Web App (PWA) is an ideal compromise between a native app and a website. Their functioning is based on numerous, innovative, pre-existing concepts, that when combined, enable an exceptional performance and user experience.

  • App Shell:

This is your app's shell, wherein your data is transmitted. It contains JavaScript, HTML, and CSS required for the user interface (UI) to work. The App Shell architecture enables the light-weight settings that quickly loads upon the first visit. It significantly reduces the time required the first time the progressive web app is displayed.

  • Service Worker:

It is the technical basis of some features that differentiate the features of progressive web apps from traditional websites. The PWA is placed between the browser and the app and can iterate the app's performance through a number of possibilities it provides.

  • App/JSON Manifest:

A manifest is a JSON file that comprises metadata related to other files it defines. The file is descriptive and allows for the app to enable a more native rendering with a full-screen display, easily identifiable icons, the ability to switch screen orientations, and an option for installing the app on a device's home screen.

PWAs and service workers are set to revolutionize the way the web is perceived and works for both developers and users who gradually unfolding the future of web apps. I’d like to have your opinion on building a progressive web app for your business. Share your thoughts with me using the comments box below.