The very first offline first progressive web app published by the Barcelona City Hall was authored by Metodian (Robot Innocent SL). Its name is Points of Interest of Barcelona and provides information on featured spots of the city.
After a while working in colaboration with Barcelona City Council Communication and Tech areas to define a new mobile strategy, Metodian built this app both as a proof of concept and as an standalone product.
Offline first progressive web apps are web apps designed to be capable of being used offline as from the first time that the user consults them. The first time the app is accessed, it downloads locally the data that is needed for it to function offline. Successive visits to the app upload information from the local copy where there is no available internet connection.
The main advantages to working this way:
- A web app is automatically multi-platform. It can be consulted from a computer or any mobile device with a web browser. Making Barcelona City Council’s developments really multi-platform is essential for complying with the criterion of putting citizens at the centre as it means respecting their technological choices and allowing access to services from more devices, often even the ones that the market now sees as obsolete.
- Maintenance and creation costs are much less. Although things often have to be adapted for each platform, the basics of the development are the same for an Android, iPhone, Windows Phone, various Blackberry models and FirefoxOS etc.
- They enable continuous delivery: every time a change is made in an app that is in App Store and Play Store, Apple and Google respectively have to approve those changes before they are available for users (Google does not generally use prior approval but it does remove apps once they are made available to the public where something is not in line with their policies). A change in a web app has an immediate effect.