Building Progressive Web Apps (PWA) with Mendix

Mendix is a leading low-code development platform that lets you build web and mobile apps faster, more efficiently, and at scale. This low-code solution provides numerous capabilities, helping you create great applications with minimal effort and expertise. Did you know that you can build progressive web applications (PWA) with Mendix? Yes, Mendix has features that support the creation of PWAs.

So, what are progressive web apps? And how do I build progressive web apps with Mendix? Join us as we provide an in-depth guide to building PWA with Mendix.

What are Progressive Web Apps (PWA)?

PWAs are a unique web app type that progressively uses more browser functionality to enhance user experience. You can think of PWAs as an evolution of conventional web applications. However, unlike traditional web apps, Mendix PWAs provide more functionality. For instance, they have:

  • An option to work fully or partially offline
  • Support for web push notifications and device capabilities
  • An option to be on your device’s home screen.

While PWAs are often used for mobile applications, they can also be used for desktop applications. Also, PWAs tend to behave like native and hybrid applications. However, one key difference (and a possible advantage) is that, unlike native and hybrid apps, PWAs don’t need to be distributed through an app store. Instead, they are accessible directly through your browser

How to Build Progressive Web Apps with Mendix

Here are the steps to follow when creating a PWA with Mendix:

1. Create a New Mendix Project

Like creating a typical web application, you need to create a new Mendix project for your PWA. Mendix provides a “Progressive Web App” template to help you develop your PWA faster. This template is an excellent starting point for developing your PWA, as it features built-in functionality, including push notifications and offline support.

2. Use the Mendix Modeler to Design and Create your PWA

The Mendix Modeler allows you to design and build your PWA by creating microflows, pages, and entities. Microflows define your app’s business logic, pages generate the user interface (UI) and entities define your PWA’s data structure.

If you have limited coding expertise, worry not. The Mendix Modeler provides a visual, model-driven interface that lets you drag and drop UI elements, create logic, and define data structure without writing large chunks of code. What’s more, Mendix provides built-in widgets that you can use to improve your app’s user experience, including graphs and charts.

3. Use Mendix Buildpack to Package Your App as a PWA

Mendix provides a Buildpack for packaging your application as a PWA. This Buildpack automatically generates a Service Worker, a key PWA component, enabling push notifications and offline functionality.

Also, the Service Worker is responsible for caching data and assets, enabling your application to operate seamlessly even when the user is offline. What’s more, the Mendix Buildpack generates a manifest file used by the user’s browser to provide details about your PWA, including name, color scheme, and icon.

4. Configure the Manifest File for Your PWA

Once the manifest file is generated by the Mendix Buildpack, it’s time to configure it for your PWA. Mendix allows you to use the Mendix Modeler or text editor to modify and configure the manifest file. This JSON file plays a crucial role in customizing your PWA. For instance, you can customize your PWA’s theme color and display mode, among other properties, by simply editing the manifest file. So, configuring the manifest file helps you deliver a custom PWA that matches specific user requirements.

5. Test Your PWA on Multiple Devices and Platforms

Like any other Mendix application, a PWA is used on different platforms and devices. So, you must test your PWA to ensure it works seamlessly on various platforms and devices before deploying it. Fortunately, testing your PWA with Mendix is easier than ever before.

Mendix provides a pre-built Application Testing Suite (ATS), which allows even non-technical users to test apps, including PWAs, using recorded test scripts on multiple devices and browsers. Also, you can use standard testing tools, such as Selenium, to test your PWA. Since Mendix widgets feature special identifiers in the document object model (DOM), testing tools can easily use these IDs to develop robust, readable test scripts.

6. Deploy Your PWA

When your PWA passes all your testing criteria, it’s time to deploy it to a cloud platform or hosting provider. Mendix provides a wide range of deployment options and platforms, such as Google Cloud, Azure, and Amazon Web Services (AWS). Deployment can be done with a simple click of a button on the Mendix platform.

7. Monitor Usage and Performance

Building progressive web apps doesn’t stop at deployment. You need to continuously monitor your app’s performance and usage to ensure it seamlessly serves its intended purpose. If you’re unsure about monitoring your PWA’s performance and usage, worry not – Mendix has got you covered.

Mendix provides robust analytics tools for tracking application usage and performance. These tools offer insights into user behavior, including the most frequently visited pages, how long users stay on the site, and the devices they use to access the PWA. You can use such data to identify areas for optimization, eventually enhancing user experience.

Also, Mendix’s built-in tools ease the maintenance and updating of your PWAs over time. What’s more, you can use the Mendix Modeler to push updates and make changes to the deployed PWA without having to deploy it manually. This ensures that your PWA stays up-to-date and offers a seamless user experience.

Final Thoughts

Mendix simplifies the development of progressive web applications by providing various key components and features of PWAs, including a manifest file and Service Worker. Adding these features to its low-code development capabilities, such as drag-and-drop interface and pre-built reusable components, further ease and accelerate the development and deployment of PWAs that deliver a modern, app-like user experience.

So, what are you waiting for? Register with Mendix today and start building progressive web applications the easy way!

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Author: Indium
Indium Software is a leading digital engineering company that provides Application Engineering, Cloud Engineering, Data and Analytics, DevOps, Digital Assurance, and Gaming services. We assist companies in their digital transformation journey at every stage of digital adoption, allowing them to become market leaders.