XF 2.2 Progressive web app

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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... 🤔


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.

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.
is there a workaround that would allow the screen to be turned sideways.
Works fine here if I turn the screen sideways. However it could be argued it isn’t good practice when designing responsively that the screen should need turning sideways for certain things.

Thank you for the response

1. You have to have the Progressive Web app installed (android) and then when you turn sideways the app does not turn.

2. It is not uncommon for websites to restrict certain content on mobile. It reduces clutter and highlights the important things. On desktop, where space is not an issue, those hidden components can be shown.
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PWA works great on my board except for one thing.

On occasion I have parts of the site that requires the phone to be turned sideways to see.


/* Remove HTML WidgetS on mobile */
@media (max-width: @xf-responsiveMedium) {
        .html_widget_span {
            display: none;

For instance I have a forum banner share and it will scrunch up too small on a phone screen so I deactivate the widget for tiny screens.

Now in browser mode you can turn the phone sideways and the widget will show up.

But when the progressive web app is used the screen will not turn when the phone is used sideways.

I am considering removing PWA for my site but I also use the larger icons for twitter and such so I have two questions.

What is a surefire way to remove PWA for the site while still leaving the site icons in settings.


is there a workaround that would allow the screen to be turned sideways.
From my understanding Xenforo PWA doesn't respect the auto rotation, it does in regular browser mode.
Apple device right?

On Android there is no side view with the app installed.

I use that view when I make forum changes to determine what to have and what not to have show on mobile so I actually had to uninstall the web app on my phone.
If any support is required, post in the customer support forums.

It won't be provided in HYS threads.
I just want to turn it off for my site but I still want to keep theses settings


Obviously I use these settings for other things but I cannot see a way to shut off the Progressive Web app feature once activated unless I give a long site name and remove these two settings.

If that's considered support then I can open another topic or feel free to split into another topic.
some users report that the web app rotate every time, even if they disabled the rotation from android menu.
when disable the rotetion from android device, all app/display must respect the orientation.
sems the xenforo 2.2.13 web app do not respect this android lock, and rotate anyway.

do you have the same behaviour?
As this thread has served its purpose - to discuss the impending release of a new feature - and it is now being used for suggestions, support and bug reports; we’ll close it now and refer you to the appropriate forums for the aforementioned matters.
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