How does The PWA Studio change developing PWA solutions?

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The PWA community has expanded again. As a result of community initiatives, Magento Commerce itself has announced the PWA Studio. That’s great news for all PWA developers and merchants.

Undoubtedly, the introduction of The PWA Studio is a big step for the whole Magento community. So far, mainly independent software houses and the community have worked on solutions for Progressive Web Apps. These are well-working apps, already available on the market, that can be connected to eCommerce platforms like Magento. So how does the Magento PWA Studio shake the current environment up?

The PWA solutions for eCommerce

Open Source solutions for PWA

The open source community’s reaction to new opportunities for PWAs has been extremely fast. Working independently, software houses have already introduced solutions for PWA.

Let’s take VueStorefront, for example. This is a front-end PWA solution that can be connected to the back-end of any eCommerce platform. It works more like a native app than a theme for eCommerce platforms. The developers working on this app were focused on implementing as much app logic as possible in the JavaScript – making the app fully offline-enabled, working flawlessly on any device. By using this approach, they were not limited to any architecture. VueStorefront (a progressive web app for Magento) ended up as pretty easy to maintain, and extend front-end code.

Our goal was to create an app that can be customized and extended by devs that are familiar with any eCommerce platform – and I think we made it. ” – Piotr Karwatka, CTO at Divante.

Solutions like VueStorefront are extending the whole Magento ecosystem to new developers. As they are platform agnostic, they support Magento1 at the same level as Magento2 and Pimcore – and maybe some other platforms in the future.

A different approach has been introduced by Magento (producer of the eCommerce platforms) and is comprised of a set of tools for developers, rather than ready to use solutions.

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The Magento PWA Studio

The PWA Studio is a reversed way of thinking about Progressive Web Apps in eCommerce. In short, instead of a ready-to-use solution, the PWA Studio is a suite of tools for building online stores as Progressive Web Apps. The studio will be available for Magento Commerce solution partners and UX developers.

“PWA Studio will provide developers and merchants with the tools they need to compete and deliver the convenience and utility of a mobile app combined with the searchability and buying experiences they get from their desktop experiences.” – Jason Woosley, SVP of Product & Technology at Magento Commerce.

The PWA Studio was announced at Magento Imagine 2018 – the conference that took place in April 2018, Las Vegas. It will be available via the early adopters’ program this summer.

The suite will provide basic tools to deliver fast and simple front-ends, including content personalization, adding local preferences, themes, and an architecture based on modularized components. It allows developers to build and manage all channels via one code base, one deployment, and app.

The team backing the PWA studio is pretty solid – Andrew and James for sure know what they’re doing. The PWA Studio will be a top-notch frontend solution focused on the Magento/React combination.” – Piotr Karwatka, CTO at Divante.

Of course, Magento, as the producer of the platform, will support all the edge cases and most of the existing Magento architecture with its upsides and downsides. Thus making the development process and the technology choices sort of limited.

Choose your PWA solution

PWA solutions are still dynamically evolving, but those who decide to invest in this technology will be rewarded. The market just reached 5 billion devices connected to the web and the future of eCommerce depends on fast and engaging solutions. Progressive Web Apps are designed for it.

If you look at the PWA Studio and community initiatives, you’ll see two entirely different approaches. The first is a toolbox for developing PWAs on Magento, the second represents ready-to-use solutions. Which one to use? That of course depends.

If you’re starting a new online store, the tools in the PWA Studio will probably be useful for you to help you build it as a Progressive Web Application.

If you already have a shopping platform (e.g. Magento 1), where you have invested thousands of hours into customization and integration, using ready-made PWA front-ends (e.g. VueStorefront) is probably the smartest logical step towards a PWA for you. In this case, all you need to do is to re-design your shop on the front-end.

If you cannot wait for The PWA Studio to be launched, you will find solutions within the community.

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Published May 16, 2018