PWAs as Tools to Benefit Future Development of Nostr

PWAs as Tools to Benefit Future Development of Nostr

Progressive Web Apps may be the way forward for the apps interacting with censorship resistant protocols. Check out this quick and light post of what PWAs are and what makes them so powerful.

Jun 14

In light of Apple's recent actions against Damus and the broader zap functionality, concerns are growing among the Nostr community and beyond (thank you, for highlighting this on the blue bird app).

As the pushback from traditional institutions - including tech companies, governments, and regulatory bodies - is likely to escalate, many are exploring viable alternatives. One of these, as recommended by among others, is shifting towards Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). This strategy could help us break free from the limitations imposed by centralized app store authorities who dictate what can and cannot be incorporated into Nostr clients and other apps interacting with censorship-resistant protocols.

Note, that Damus is not the only app facing scrutiny from Apple:

If you're new to the concept of PWAs, check out my brief overview:

A Progressive Web App (PWA) leverages web technologies to provide an app-like experience while maintaining the versatility and accessibility of traditional websites. Here's a more detailed comparison:

Similarities to Traditional Apps:

  • Device Installation: Like platform-specific apps, PWAs can be installed on the device, getting their own app icon and can be launched as standalone apps.

  • Offline Operation: PWAs can operate in the background and offline, responding to push messages from the server, updating content in the background, and displaying notifications using the OS notification system.

  • Full-screen Operation: PWAs use the entire screen for their user interface, just like traditional apps.

  • Device Integration: PWAs can be integrated with the device, registering as share targets and sources, and accessing device features like camera or GPS.

  • Distribution: PWAs can (but don't have to) be distributed via app stores.

Similarities to Websites:

  • Censorship-resistance: By enabling direct web access and distribution, PWAs circumvent the potential for content control and restrictions often associated with traditional app stores.

  • Cross-platform Operation: PWAs are developed using standard web technologies, allowing them to run on different operating systems and device classes from a single codebase.

  • Web Access: Like traditional websites, PWAs can be accessed directly from the web without requiring app store downloads.

  • Searchability: Because they are web-based, PWAs are indexed by search engines and can be shared and accessed using URLs.

Unique PWA Features:

  • Dual Distribution: PWAs can be distributed through both app stores and directly via the web, offering broader reach than platform-specific apps or traditional websites.

  • Browser Engine Requirement: Despite appearing as standalone apps, PWAs technically remain websites, requiring a browser engine, like Chrome or Firefox, for operation. The browser engine provides the environment for PWAs, managing and running them in the background.

The Ultimate Example:

My favorite example of a PWA is the Timechain Calendar app. It feels like an app, it looks like an app, yet it is web-based, so it does not require anyone’s permission to live on your phone or desktop.



Overall, PWAs aim to combine the best of both worlds: they offer the user-friendly experience of traditional apps while preserving the flexibility and platform-agnostic nature of websites. They indeed can be a way forward for censorship-resistant apps.