Archive: June 11th, 2016
A new pattern library tool, this time from the smart people at Cloud Four. It’s called Drizzle and it started life as a fork of Fabricator.
Progressive web app store
Remember when Chrome developers decided to remove the “add to home screen” prompt for progressive web apps that used
display: browser in their manifest files? I wasn’t happy.
Alex wrote about their plans to offer URL access for all installed progressive web apps, regardless of what’s in the manifest file. I look forward to that. In the meantime, it makes no sense to punish the developers who want to give users access to URLs.
The browser’s goal is clear: create a hurdle tall enough that only sites that meet user expectations of “appyness” will be prompted for. Maybe Chrome’s version of this isn’t great! Feedback like Ada’s, Andrew’s, and Jeremy’s is helpful is letting us know how to improve. Thankfully, in most of the cases flagged so far, we’ve anticipated the concerns but maybe haven’t communicated our thinking as well as we should have. This is entirely my fault. This post is my penance.
It turns out that the home-screen prompt was just the first stab. There’s a really interesting idea Alex talks about called “ambient badging”:
Wouldn’t it be great if there were a button in the URL bar that appeared whenever you landed on a PWA that you could always tap to save it to your homescreen? A button that showed up in the top-level UI only when on a PWA? Something that didn’t require digging through menus and guessing about “is this thing going to work well when launched from the homescreen?”
I really, really like this idea. It kind of reminds me of when browsers would flag up whether or not a website had an RSS feed, and allow you to subscribe right then and there.
Hold that thought. Because if you remember the history of RSS, it ended up thriving and withering based on the fortunes of one single RSS reader.
Whenever the discoverability of progressive web apps comes up, the notion of an app store for the web is inevitably floated. Someone raised it as a question at one of the Google I/O panels: shouldn’t Google provide some kind of app store for progressive web apps? …to which Jake cheekily answered that yes, Google should create some kind of engine that would allow people to search for these web apps.
He’s got a point. Progressive web apps live on the web, so any existing discovery method on the web will work just fine. Remy came to a similar conclusion:
Progressive web apps allow users to truly “visit our URL to install our app”.
Also, I find it kind of odd that people think that it needs to be a company the size of Google that would need to build any kind of progressive web app store. It’s the web! Anybody can build whatever they want, without asking anyone else for permission.
So if you’re the entrepreneurial type, and you’re looking for the next Big Idea to make a startup out of, I’ve got one for you:
Build a directory of progressive web apps.
Call it a store if you want. Or a marketplace. Heck, you could even call it a portal, because, let’s face it, that’s kind of what app stores are.
Opera have already built you a prototype. It’s basic but it already has a bit of categorisation. As progressive web apps get more common though, what we’re really going to need is curation. Again, there’s no reason to wait for somebody else—Google, Opera, whoever—to build this.
Oh, I guess I should provide a business model too. Hmmm …let me think. Advertising masquerading as “featured apps”? I dunno—I haven’t really thought this through.
Anyway, you might be thinking, what will happen if someone beats you to it? Well, so what? People will come to your progressive web app directory because of your curation. It’s actually a good thing if they have alternatives. We don’t want a repeat of the Google Reader situation.
It’s hard to recall now, but there was a time when there wasn’t one dominant search engine. There’s nothing inevitable about Google “owning” search or Facebook “owning” social networking. In fact, they both came out of an environment of healthy competition, and crucially neither of them were first to market. If that mattered, we’d all still be using Yahoo and Friendster.
So go ahead and build that progressive web app store. I’m serious. It will, of course, need to be a progressive web app itself so that people can install it to their home screens and perhaps even peruse your curated collection when they’re offline. I could imagine that people might even end up with multiple progressive web app stores added to their home screens. It might even get out of control after a while. There’d need to be some kind of curation to help people figure out the best directory for them. Which brings me to my next business idea:
Build a directory of directories of progressive web apps…
A good impartial overview of progressive web apps, as described at the most recent Google I/O. This is very telling:
The term also begs the question; what is the difference between websites and apps? It seems many of the new capabilities fit well for any dynamic website, not just apps.
Anyhow. It’s good to have an umbrella term to talk about these things.
I’ve been thinking a lot about learning, teaching, mentoring, coaching …this article by Ivana McConnell from last year is packed with gold nuggets of wisdom concerning apprenticeships.
As lifelong learners, we may be reluctant to call ourselves “masters.” But that’s missing the point, and it discounts the fact that teaching is learning. We’re not there to guarantee mastery—we’re there to give our apprentices fundamentals, to foster their respect, and make journeymen (or women) out of them. Mastery will come; we just offer the tools.
Tenser, said the Tensor. Tenser, said the Tensor. Tension, apprehension, And dissension have begun.
A very handy collection:
This book contains frontend coding patterns (and anti-patterns) that will assist developers in building accessible e-commerce web pages, widgets and workflows.
I like that it contains a list of anti-patterns too.
There’s also a corresponding collection of working demos.
Bidding farewell to @JenSimmons at Brighton train station …where they are handing out free beer as part of a promotion. Dubious.
A lovely little native app:
The world’s most advanced camera for your mini pocket computer.
View source for added nostalgia/flashbacks.
Oh, and RTFM.
“The web is already decentralized,” Mr. Berners-Lee said. “The problem is the dominance of one search engine, one big social network, one Twitter for microblogging. We don’t have a technology problem, we have a social problem.”