Deep Dive into Angular PWAs: From Basics to Mastery

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) have changed the way we think about web applications, pushing the boundaries of performance, reliability, and user engagement. Angular, a robust frontend framework, provides a seamless path to implement PWAs. Let’s embark on a detailed exploration of creating PWAs using Angular.

The Essence of PWAs

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Before diving in, let's further break down the core tenets of PWAs:

  1. Reliability: Even in flaky network situations, a PWA should load instantly.
  2. Performance: Fast response to user interactions, making use of caching and lazy-loading.
  3. Engagement: Provides features like push notifications, home screen icons, and full-screen mode, making web apps feel like native applications.

Angular's Offering for PWAs

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Angular's @angular/pwa package simplifies the process of converting an Angular application into a PWA. This package automates many tasks and provides a straightforward configuration system.

Step-by-Step Angular PWA Creation

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1. Bootstrapping the Angular App

If you haven't already, initiate a new Angular project:

ng new angular-pwa-demo 

Navigate to your project directory:

cd angular-pwa-demo 

2. Implementing PWA Capabilities

Integrate PWA support:

ng add @angular/pwa 

What happens behind the scenes?

  • @angular/service-worker package is added.
  • ServiceWorkerModule is imported in the AppModule .
  • Angular's build configuration is enhanced to incorporate the service worker and associated files.
  • A manifest.webmanifest is generated, providing metadata about the application.
  • Diverse resolution icons are set up, accommodating various devices.

3. Configuring the Service Worker

The service worker is the linchpin of a PWA, operating as a proxy between the web application and the network. Configuration is done via the ngsw-config.json file.

Here's a more intricate example:

  "index": "/index.html",
  "assetGroups": [{
    "name": "app",
    "installMode": "prefetch",
    "updateMode": "prefetch",
    "resources": {
      "files": [
      "versionedFiles": [
      "fonts": ["/fonts/**"],
      "images": ["/images/**"]
  "dataGroups": [{
    "name": "api-performance",
    "urls": ["/api/**"],
    "cacheConfig": {
      "strategy": "performance",
      "maxAge": "1h",
      "maxSize": 100

This configuration:

  • Caches the app's core files.
  • Prefetches version-specific files.
  • Caches font and image assets.
  • Uses a performance strategy to cache API calls, retaining them for an hour and allowing up to 100 entries.

4. Testing the PWA

Although ng serve will allow you to run your application, the service worker doesn't activate in this development mode. For testing the PWA capabilities locally, consider using the http-server :

npm install -g http-server 
http-server -p 8080 -c-1 dist/angular-pwa-demo 

Visit http://localhost:8080 to view your app and its service worker in action.

5. Auditing with Lighthouse

Lighthouse, a tool integrated into the Chrome DevTools, helps in evaluating the PWA quality. To audit:

  • Run your PWA in Chrome.
  • Open DevTools ( Ctrl+Shift+I or Cmd+Option+I ).
  • Navigate to the "Lighthouse" tab.
  • Click "Generate report".

This audit gives insights into the performance, accessibility, and other best practices. Use the feedback to refine your PWA.

Building Angular PWA for Production

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1. Build with Production Flag

Run the following command to build your Angular application for production:

ng build --prod 

This will optimize and minify your code, create service workers, and ensure that the app is ready for deployment. The built files can be found in the dist/ directory.

Deploying the PWA Online

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Deploy your PWA to any web server or hosting solution of your choice. Some popular options include:

  • Firebase Hosting
  • Netlify
  • Vercel
  • AWS S3

After deploying, ensure your server uses HTTPS since service workers require a secure context.

Packaging and Deploying PWA for App Stores

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While PWAs can be added to home screens directly from browsers, you might want to publish your PWA to app stores for better discoverability.

For Google Play Store:

  1. Use Trusted Web Activity (TWA): TWAs allow PWAs to be packaged for submission to the Google Play Store.

  2. Generate an APK: Utilize tools like Bubblewrap to create an APK from your PWA.

  3. Submit to Play Store: Once you have the APK, the submission process is the same as any other Android app.

For Apple App Store:

Apple doesn't have a direct mechanism like TWA for PWAs. However, you can use a WebView wrapper to package your PWA for iOS.

  1. Use a WebView Wrapper: Tools like Cordova can help you wrap your PWA inside a native WebView.

  2. Create an IPA: Once wrapped, generate an IPA file for your app.

  3. Submit to App Store: Follow the typical iOS app submission process using Xcode and App Store Connect.

Considerations for App Store Submission:

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  • Native Features: Ensure that any device-specific features your app uses are supported within the wrapper you choose.

  • Store Guidelines: Both Google Play and Apple App Store have guidelines. Make sure your app complies to avoid rejection.

  • Updates: Remember, when you update the web version of your PWA, the app store version will also reflect those updates (since it's essentially a wrapper around your web app). However, if you make changes to the native wrapper, you'll need to resubmit to the app stores.

In Conclusion

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While PWAs offer an impressive web experience, their integration with app stores brings them to an even broader audience. Angular makes it fairly straightforward to create a PWA, and with the right tools and practices, you can have your app showcased on both the web and leading app stores.