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BLOG | 03 September 2019

Magento Web Apps—what they are, and where to build them

If you own a Magento store or if you’re considering developing one, you’ve probably asked yourself whether there’s an easy way to make web apps. Don’t worry: Magento have got you covered.

Make web apps

Web applications hold a whole new world of promise for eCommerce. While a lot of vendors use simple static sites, the modern user wants something more engaging and dynamic. It hasn’t always been easy: most eCommerce CMSs tend to keep frontend development fairly simple, using simplified web design tools like drag-and-drop WYSIWYG editors and customisable templates. They’re great for cost-effective and easy development, but a web app requires more muscle than that—there’s only so far you can get changing typefaces on a template. Thankfully, Magento released their Progressive Web Application Studio earlier this year to help developers create integrated eCommerce web apps.

Wait, what actually is a web app?

A web application is a website that runs primarily client-side, using technologies like XML, JavaScript and AJAX to utilise the user’s computer power rather than the servers. This lets you run much more complex sites while taking less of a speed hit-you’re moving select pieces of the processing load onto the user’s device, which frees up your own servers. It’s not a true app, but it often looks like one on the user’s end, though it operates entirely in-browser and requires 0 installation. A web app is a happy middle-ground between an application and a site: light and easy to access, but also powerful.

OR it’s an application running server-side, using HTML as a presentation layer-that is, a thing installed on your computer that runs on your user’s device through the internet.

It’s a bit complicated. Sites have become so complex at this point that the line between ‘site’ and ‘application’ has gotten blurry. To actually answer our question: web apps are highly advanced sites that—depending on your definition of ‘app’—either simulate applications or become applications. The general rule of thumb is this: if you open an app in your browser and it runs, it’s a web app; if it requires installation, it’s not.

What is Magento PWA Studio?

Magento PWA Studio is a pair of open-source tools:

  • PWA Buildpack: the primary toolkit used in app development
  • Peregrine: a refined set of tools for progressive UI construction

It also includes Venia, a sample storefront built exclusively using the PWA studio, designed to help developers get accustomed to the tools and build environment. If you want to read more, you can stop by the official documentation. Magento PWA Studio is open-source, totally free, and—if you know your way around Magento—relatively easy to get the hang of.

Magento customization services

What does this mean for me?

If you’re a Magento developer, then you probably don’t need to ask: you’re already salivating at the possibilities. If you’re looking to hire a developer then the utility of the PWA studio is a little less obvious. It lets you build and run exceptionally advanced and complex sites in a fraction of the time you could do previously, OR, it lets you build better sites, faster. If you were on the fence about migrating to Magento, then let this be the thing that finally brings you over. And hey, if you’re here and you’re looking to hire, CodeClouds can provide experienced Magento customization services who can get the most out of the PWA studio. Get the edge on your competition by getting a progressive web app developed today.

Originally written September 03, 2019. Last updated June 30th, 2020

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