TL;DR: The web unlocks productivity, and creates cost and time efficiencies during development. It offers greater support and ease of updates than native apps, and with new advancements it promises a much better, more consistent user experience.
We invited three developers from Hello Monday’s tech team: Lasse Moos, Anders Jessen and Johnny Slack for a Q&A, to hear their views on the power of the web.
What do you think are some of the biggest benefits of the way web-based/browser-based tools and technology have advanced to optimize productivity, and support developers?
AJ: With new technologies and the extremely fast development that we are seeing with web technologies — across browsers and OSs — there is a shift where desktop apps are increasingly being made with web technology. The same shift is happening on mobile apps — where more and more are going from creating native apps, to creating web-apps that function across all devices.
QuoteOverall it makes it much faster and easier to create advanced websites and web applications. The web has evolved a lot — and integrations, animations and user experience have changed a lot — from a basic presentation layer to full applications. — Anders Jessen Technical Director / Partner at Hello Monday/DEPT®
JS: Web-based browser tech enables users to enjoy hardware-accelerated experiences without the need of additional downloads, plugins or third party tools. This allows us to serve up next-level sites and UI to any user with a web browser — making experiences like this widely accessible. As performance increases and new browser-based tools and API’s are made more readily available, the browser experience can begin to feel more native.
What are the advantages of browser based “app-like experiences” over native apps for developers? Or for users?
AJ: The biggest advantage of having a web-app instead of a native app is that you only need to have one codebase across all platforms (mobile, desktop, apps etc). This makes code updates much easier to do, as you only need to concentrate on updating it in a single place. This gives developers more time to focus on the user experience — instead of replicating functionality across multiple code bases. Quality Assurance and testing is, for the above reasons, also much less time consuming. And one of the added benefits is that the users get the exact same experience no matter what touch point they are engaging with the product from. Making the end users experience much better.
LM: By default you get much wider support in a web app, than you ever get from developing a native app just because of the fact that it mostly runs everywhere. We can much more dynamically turn features on and off, based on what user capabilities we can detect. And you can be pretty sure that whenever there’s a new platform introduced by any vendor or hardware maker, one of the first things they’re going to bring to it is some sort of browser. So if you want to push an update, you can have it out to all your users in two seconds.
JS: One of the major advantages is user reach (and they’re cheaper to make). Getting a user to download an app or tool to access an experience has a drop-off rate. The browser is an extremely quick and efficient way to reach users without any hurdles in-between — all while having the tools to bring app-like experiences to the browser, and additionally WebGL/3D capabilities.
Any specific opportunities that you think the new web-based dev tools and tricks have unlocked that developers should embrace/investigate further?
AJ: If you are not already embracing web-apps fully — I think now might be a good time to have a look at your existing setup. Do I really need to update multiple code-bases? How am I benefitting from it? And how are the end users benefitting from it? Would it make more sense to go base everything on web-technologies so that you can ultimately free up developer time and resources to make a better product instead of spending time on updating multiple code-bases?
LM: WebGPU has been in development for years and it enables lower level access to the GPU. This means we can raise the baseline of what range of experiences we can hope to achieve on different devices, which is super exciting for me, because it enables me to output new types of effects that previously wasn’t possible in the browser. It also enables a whole new category of products. Mathematically intensive tasks like heavy machine learning can run better in the browser because of WebGPU, enabling more raw compute access that wasn’t available in WebGL. WebGPU has already landed in Chrome and Edge. We’re actively looking into how we can utilize it in this experience when it reaches baseline support in all major browsers.
JS: There are numerous API’s that are making the browser even more powerful and also make a mobile browser-based site feel like an app. One example is the Web Sharing API. The Web Sharing API will bring up the native sharing card on your phone when sharing an experience, rather than bringing up a separate custom panel. It’s nice touches like this that will start to tie together the browser experience and the native experience. There’s also other existing APIs which allow us to create real-time video and audio snippets that can be bundled and shared.
Quote“The ‘Web Can Do What?!’ site is a great example of a hybrid 2D/3D experience, where WebGL is used to enhance the user experience. It’s an exciting way to bring users next-level UI using WebGL, showcasing how it can be used not only for game-like experiences, but also as a way to enable new interaction patterns.” — Johnny Slack CTO Hello Monday/DEPT®
If you’re ready to rethink web capabilities, our newest site collaboration with Google (thewebshowcase.withgoogle.com) is stacked with information, resources, up-to-date demos and discussions.