XF 2.2 Progressive web app

Mobile app installation
Mobile first. We hear it again and again, and with over half of all web traffic coming from mobile devices, it's more important than ever to provide your mobile visitors with a great experience.

Of course, XenForo 2 is built on a fully responsive design that gracefully adapts to any display size and makes using XenForo a pleasure on all devices, but now we're taking it a step further by enabling any XenForo site to become a progressive web app.

Progressive web what?

Okay, let's back up a little. Imagine a technology that allows a web site to appear and behave like an app without having to produce native code for each platform, or go through any vendor's App Store equivalent.

Progressive web apps, or PWAs, aim to bridge the gap between websites and native applications on both mobile and desktop devices using a series of emerging web standards. Push notifications, a feature introduced in XenForo 2.1, are a popular example of one such standard. In XenForo 2.2, we're expanding our support for these standards by making XenForo installable, implementing more graceful offline handling, and adding support for the badging API.

Setting it up

It's important to note that, like push notifications, making full use of these features will require a few extra steps to set things up.

Additionally, as with push notifications, these features are only available on devices and browsers that fully support PWAs. Would you care to take a guess as to what the most notable exceptions might be? As you may have suspected, once again Safari on macOS and any iOS-based browsers are the culprits due to Apple's ongoing failure to implement industry standards. While Safari on both macOS and iOS does support graceful offline handling, it does not support installation or badging (more on that below) at this time.

We would encourage you to make your frustrations known in public by applying virtual tar and feathers to Apple employees online until they relent and get their act together... or at least voice your support for these standards by continuing to reach out to @webkit on Twitter or the webkit-help mailing list. Officially, the best place to communicate with Apple is via their product feedback channels, and presumably they won't be able to continue to ignore a deluge of feature requests for the same thing... 🤔

Requirements

To make full use of these features...
  • Your XenForo installation must be accessed over SSL / HTTPS
  • Your site must have a relatively short title of 12 characters or fewer
  • You must publish a pair of square icons for your site, one at 192px and another at 512px.

Setting a short title

Publishing a pair of icons

What do PWAs look like?

If your site meets the requirements, your visitors will automatically be given the option to install your 'app' on their device.

The precise details of the interface and the circumstances permitting installation can vary by browser and in some cases can depend on the degree of interaction with your site a user has had.

When browsing with Chrome on desktop or Android, the app can be installed via the address bar on both mobile and desktop devices. On supported mobile devices, we also display a conspicuous yet unobtrusive banner in the off-canvas menu.

Mobile app install banner
Mobile app installation

Desktop app installation

Once the app is installed, it is readily available in exactly the same way as a native app. On mobile devices, that means it can be opened via an icon on the home screen. On desktop devices, it can be opened by searching your system or even pinning the app to your taskbar or dock.

Mobile app home screen
Desktop app home screen

Some devices will display a splash screen while the app is being loaded. The splash screen is automatically generated from the icons and background color of your style.

Mobile app splash screen

For most devices, we set the app to display a minimal interface. The elements of this interface also vary by browser, but most importantly include navigation controls. For Android devices running Chrome, we are able to use the native pull-to-refresh and back-button navigation controls, so we do without any additional interface.

Mobile app
Desktop app

If a user tries to open or navigate the app without a proper network connection, we display a simple offline message.

Mobile app offline page
Desktop app offline page

Chrome-based apps recently introduced support for application badging, which allows the app to indicate unread messages or alerts directly on its icon.
We are hopeful more browsers will support the badging API in the future.

macos-badge.png
Desktop app badging (Windows)

Looking toward the future

The PWA specification and standards are constantly evolving. We will continue to monitor them as time goes on in order to always provide the best possible experience on all devices.
 

sbj

Well-known member
Damn, would have been great if it worked on iOS as half of mobile users can't get either push or pwa. But this is a really good feature, thank you.
 

JoyFreak

Well-known member
Damn, would have been great if it worked on iOS as half of mobile users can't get either push or pwa. But this is a really good feature, thank you.
There's a link in the first post to contact Apple. Let's all email them at the same time!
 

ALMUSA

Well-known member
It's like a roller coaster at first it inclines up and you are like eh but then slamming you down and you get that euphoric feeling. :love:


The best HYS so far.
 

Kirby

Well-known member
Is this including domain prefix? Like com, net... Or without? Just domain name?
I don't understand the question? The site name/title (option boardTitle) must be 12 characters or less, so this forum for example would probably not work as XenForo community is 17 characters.

So it might be a good idea to have a seperate setting for the App titlem, hence they indoduced a new Board short title option as can be seen on the first screenshot ;)
 

Faust

Active member
I don't understand the question? The site name [option boardTitle) must be 12 characters or less, so this forum for example would probabyl not work as XenForo community is 17 characters.

It might be a good idea to have a seperate setting for the App title ;)[/icode]

I'm confused about site characters, as been stated site need to me 12 or fewer, is this domain name or Site title?
 

sbj

Well-known member
Is the share option for PWAs enabled for us or not?

If we have addons installied, they will work aswell, right?

Speed improvements should be expected, right?

Having an "logo on screen" is alone worth having PWA. Having a reminder on people's phones without them needing to visit an url on their mobile browser is a huge plus. Actually, this was requested many times from my community, so I see it as a big win.
Unfortunately Apple...
Nevertheless this is a big step, finally.
 

Kirby

Well-known member
Note that the "standalone" situation that was mentioned is something we specifically enable for Chrome on Android. For other scenarios, we currently do "minimal-ui".
Yeah, I was talking about the experience with our XF 2.1 PWA implementation ;)

Is there any reason (except Pull-to-refresh andy maybe the back button, tough that should be covered by breadcrumbs) not to always run standalone?

BTW: https://xenforo.com/community/threads/simplify-moving-posts-to-existing-thread.181034/
Without this change and running PWA on chrome standalone it will be hardly impossible to move posts to existing threads ;)
 
Last edited:

Chris D

XenForo developer
Staff member
I'm confused about site characters, as been stated site need to me 12 or fewer, is this domain name or Site title?
I have the same question, is it the admin panel "board title" field?
There's a new option and it's pictured in the first post, guys:

1591624297281.png


It should just be a shorter representation of your board title, e.g. XF Community rather than XenForo Community.
 

Kirby

Well-known member
Regarding icons:
It might be a good idea to also allow specifying maskable icons for systems that do support this (instead of just 2 icons which are to be used for both).
 
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