Making your app work offline with the ServiceWorker

We've been banging on about it a bit, but if you've somehow managed not to notice that we're running a conference next month, here's the lowdown: it's called Generate, it's happening on 26 September in London and we've got an outstanding speaker line-up that we're really excited about. There will be talks from Jeremy Keith, Meagan Fisher, Dan Cederholm, Elliot Jay Stocks and many more leading lights.

To whet your appetite for these inspirational individuals, we're running a series of short Q&As that give some insight into what each person will speak about.

Jake Archibald is a developer advocate for Google Chrome. He's going to speak about the ServiceWorker, which enables you to build apps with good offline behaviour.

What have you been working on recently?

We're all working hard to get ServiceWorker into Chrome stable later in the autumn, so we're flat-out working on that.

ServiceWorker sounds exciting. What is it and why is it good?

Appcache was designed to make offline work on the web, but it failed. It has caching, routing, versioning, but it only lets you use them in very particular ways. We set about making something better by breaking appcache up into its components that can be used in whatever combination best suits what you're building.

That's the ServiceWorker! It lets you manage caches and intercept page requests.

To do this we needed to create a JavaScript context that could run at a lower level than open pages. Turns out that was the answer to more problems than we realised, and now we're getting previously native-only features like push messaging, background sync, and scheduled tasks, all using the ServiceWorker.

Are there any other techniques for building apps with good offline behaviour that you're interested in?

There aren't really any alternatives aside from appcache. However, expect to see tooling and frameworks that use ServiceWorker to make offline content even easier to manage. The folks over at have a really good basis for that.

What are the big ideas you're excited about at the moment?

Anything that closes the gap between the web and native, and anything that gives lower-level control of the platform. Specifically:

  • Push messaging
  • Background sync
  • Graphical performance, especially in mobile devices
  • Web components and Polymer

What do you think makes a good conference?

A single track. It's so much easier to have in-depth conversations with other attendees if you know everyone saw the same sessions. Oh, and an after-party where the volume of good beer and discussion is greater than the volume of music.

Are there any speakers you're particularly looking forward to seeing at Generate?

It's been ages since I've seen Remy Sharp speak, he's one of my favourites!

Head over here to sign up for Generate.

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Tanya Combrinck

Tanya is a writer covering art, design, and visual effects. She has 16 years of experience as a magazine journalist and has written for numerous publications including 3D World, 3D Artist, ImagineFX, Computer Arts, net magazine, and Creative Bloq. For Creative Bloq, she mostly writes about web design, including the hottest new tools, as well as 3D artwork and VFX.