The world is currently advancing tech-wise, and a range of products are already in the market for use. The use of these products sometimes demands online services, which might be crucial to meet at times. Using most mobile and web applications can be critical, especially when there is no means to access the internet. With some undesired restrictive access to online services, there comes a need to strategize on a proper way to maneuver offline. Sometimes, the network can be so down; hence surfing through the internet can be so tiring.
Constant frustrations through online mobile applications redirect the users towards seeking corresponding offline versions. The offline first apps act as a rescue in cases where the internet is slow. It gives the users as access to the app resources even without the internet. Therefore, we shall explore more on offline app development and how they are essential in corresponding users’ daily lives.
Understanding offline-first apps
Many mobile apps request information on the database situated on the server. The server, in turn, returns required data according to requests. Usually, most offline mobile applications may require a server connection, though not as strong as the online ones. Usually, related data gets downloaded on the user’s device, and access to the information isn’t restricted in any way. Therefore, offline apps download updates on the server-side with the availability of the internet.
Reasons why you should design an Offline-First App
Statistically, most app users find it hard to cope with an application that loads too much or does not load well. The result is that these users end up leaving or uninstalling the application for a suitable one. Therefore, a go-for choice remains to be designed of the offline versions of the related applications. With unreliable networks or access to the internet, offline applications can act as saviors.
Therefore, most developers are slowly adopting the process of developing offline-first applications. The case is more common in instances where there is no substantial or reliable internet connection. By developing offline first apps architectures, the end-user enjoys several advantages: cut-down costs, reduced data usage, battery saving, and much more. Many benefits result from using offline applications. Currently, most people prefer using most offline-first services because they are efficient, and one can access anything at their own time.
Learning to develop offline-first applications is essential for anyone willing to generate a great user experience for the end-users. It is a better choice, especially for those residing in areas where internet services are low. For instance, learning applications or any other related application requires consistency, and using online apps can be limiting. The offline counterparts offer limitless access to every resource in a given niche. Therefore, such experiences give offline-first apps an upper hand over the online applications.
Offline applications reduce most frustrations that come with the online counterparts. For instance, when you are undertaking a serious study through an application, and the internet suddenly goes down, you will get frustrated and even require to start everything all over again. But having two similar applications on your device (the offline and the online version) enhances your access to resources within the application. When the online application fails, you can resort to the offline version.
Offline applications with the current generation
You may be querying yourself how the offline-first apps work without internet connectivity. Does data get updated and stored in the app when the consumer is offline? If you may have encountered different applications working offline, you can understand the basics behind such apps’ operations. However, if you haven’t met one, you don’t have to worry either. Let’s understand it more by exploring the differences between offline apps and online ones.
The operation of online applications is understandable and straightforward. Usually, data for the application is located on its constituent server, and therefore, every piece of information about the application is centralized. With such an approach of storing app information, the user enjoys smooth synchronization with the availability of an internet connection. On the other side, offline applications need no constant updating. Therefore, there is no need to request updated information from the server time after time. A whole set of data needs to ask is thus stored on the device the user runs. Therefore, the user accesses the already downloaded information that is made available on the device.
Techniques for developing offline app architecture
Usually, most people stick to a common misconception that offline-first apps’ development solely relies on the local storage of data. There are different approaches involved in cases of offline-first app development. The approaches include:
Balancing between the offline and online sync
It is also another essential approach that enables users to edit data offline, adjust it as desired and make additional requirements. However, the app can quickly gain visibility and updates once there is internet connectivity. Think of an experience where you can manipulate the app data without necessarily requiring the internet.
Storing data offline
Caching is one of the excellent approaches that lets user’s access data offline. With caching, data gets stored on a local server as long as the device can access it. It is one of the most effective offline-first development approaches that lets the user enjoy an advanced experience while using an application quicker than any other. However, since most applications demand a lot of storage space, the user needs to acquire a relatively high storage space.
Extra control at no additional costs and ensures each user a perfect experience with applications.
Factors to consider when developing offline applications
Before creating an offline application, there is a range of things you have to keep in mind. The necessities are vital in ensuring the efficient running of the offline application. The following parameters are essential when developing an offline application:
- Outlining your best adaptable strategy and identify how to cache your app data
- Establishing a reliable caching method
- Establishing solutions to resolve data conflicts
Tools and frameworks for developing offline first applications
Some of the standard tools essential for building offline-first applications include:
One of the effective development tools that support the use of Angular is building hybrid applications. The developed applications are run on Android or iOS platforms through tools like Apache Cordova.
Progressive Web Apps
One of the most significant ways of combining native applications and web applications is through Progressive Web Apps. It offers a smooth and reliable user experience. Furthermore, there is great flexibility with support features critical for perfect web browsing capabilities.
Check: Hire PWA developer
The tool has more generous support for APIs, which are essential for local data storage. It occurs with both iOS and Android platforms.
One of the most significant of Google‘s projects is the Polymer project. The Polymer AppToolBox is part of the project and supports a range of tools and templates for building offline-first apps.
The Hoodie is a typical open-source project that reliably supports most backend solutions for a range of mobile applications. It has tools critical for developing front end codes and makes the entire process of developing offline apps easier.
Other tools serving similar purposes include Mapbox Mobile, Realm Mobile Platform, Cloudant Envoy, Service Workers, among many more.
Before and when building mobile applications or any other program, it is essential to consider the user experience. It is also necessary to consider the common challenges users may experience when collecting your application resources. Some users ultimately don’t have access to the internet in their remote areas, and some are lucky enough to continuously enjoy stable internet. Considering both sides helps to cater to the needs of each user. Since most online applications have dominated the app development industry, it is also essential to scale up offline versions. Doing so helps the offline users alike to enjoy benefits from each application. It is a beautiful way to build your customer base and advance your application services.