Angular PWA

Angular Progressive Web Applicatoin (PWA)

This article documents the steps to add PWA support to an existing Angular 5.1.1 project generated from Angular cli. This Angular Service Worker blog gives a good introduction of Angular PWA.

Use Google lighthouse tool to assess the quality of an application. Use the command npm i -g lighthouse to install it and run lighthouse https://yourwebsite.url --view to check and view the result.

PWA Requirements

The above blog summarizes the PWA requirements:

  • An application shell: the app can start both online and offline.
  • External files: fonts or icons used by application shell but not included in dist folder.
  • API runtime caching: cahed data for network calls.
  • Push notification: subscription and displaying the sever notification.
  • Auto update of applicaton shell: updating to the latest version.

1 The Angular CLI Support

To see what’s added by enabling PWA in Angular CLI, run the following two commands to generagte two projects and check the differences:

ng new web-no-pwa
ng new web-with-pwa --service-work

By copying the web-with-pwa files into the web-no-pwa folder, the git reports the following differences:

  • /.angular-cli.json: the "serviceWorker": true is added to the first item in apps: [].
  • /package.json: a new dependency "@angular/service-worker".
  • /src/ngsw-config.json: this is a new file only in pwa.
  • /src/app/app.module.ts: three new lines to import and use service work module. import { ServiceWorkerModule } from '@angular/service-worker' and import { environment } from '../environments/environment' at the top as well as ServiceWorkerModule.register('/ngsw-worker.js', { enabled: environment.production }) in the imports: [] section.

Angular only generates the required service worker file in production mode. ng build --prod generates /dist/ngsw.json file from src/ngsw-config.json file and copies the generic service worker from service worker nmp module to /dist/ngsw-worker.js. Because by default ng serve is not configured to serve this file, you need a HTTP server to serve files from the /dist folder. You can use the nmp http-server package to test it.

2 Service Worker Configuration

2.1 Top Level Config Interface

The config interface is examplianed in a service worker theory blog. The top level config interface is as the following:

export interface Config {
    appData?: {};
    index: string;
    assetGroups?: AssetGroup[];
    dataGroups?: DataGroup[];

The appData contains application metadata that is not used by the service worker but is delivered as part of update notifications. The index specifies the path to the index.html file.

2.2 assetGroups

The assetGroups contains named groups of resources explicitly known at build time. Applicatoin shell resources should be declared here to be cached. All static assets are delcard here too. It has the following interface:

export interface AssetGroup {
    name: string;
    installMode?: 'prefetch' | 'lazy';
    updateMode?: 'prefetch' | 'lazy';
    resources: {
        files?: Glob[];
        versionedFiles?: Glob[];
        urls?: Glob[];

The installMode means the first installation while the updateMode means a newer version is available for update. The prefetch value specifies immediate installation/cache while the layz value means on-demand installation/cache.

There are three types of resources:

  • files: a list of files whose contents will be hashed and stored in ngsw.json file.
  • versionedFiles: a list of files whose names include content hash.
  • urls: A list of external URLs (usally CDN resources) that should be cached. These resources are only updated whenever the configuration file changes.

Following is an exmaple:

  "index": "/index.html",
  "assetGroups": [{
    "name": "app",
    "installMode": "prefetch",
    "resources": {
      "files": [
      "versionedFiles": [
  }, {
    "name": "assets",
    "installMode": "lazy",
    "updateMode": "prefetch",
    "resources": {
      "files": [
      "urls": [

2.3 DataGroups

The dataGroup contains named groups of resources to be cached during runtime, usually these are on demand data requrested from the network. The following is its interface:

export interface DataGroup {
    name: string;
    urls: Glob[];
    version?: number;
    cacheConfig: {
        maxSize: number;
        maxAge: Duration;
        timeout?: Duration;
        strategy?: 'freshness' | 'performance';

You specify a list of urls that to be cached. The maxSize is the maximum number of responses cached per group. maxAge is how long the cached response is valid. It could be seconds, minutes, hours or days. timeout is used by freshness strategy. strategy has two options: freshness for network-first and performance for cache-rist. The following is an example:

"dataGroups": [
    "name": "tasks-users-api",
    "urls": ["/tasks", "/users"],
    "cacheConfig": {
      "strategy": "freshness",
      "maxSize": 20,
      "maxAge": "1h",
      "timeout": "5s"

3 Push Notification and Update Flow

The push notification works without any additional setup. You can use JavaScript’s native method or the SwPush class provided by the ServiceWorkerModule.

You can customize the update flow using the SwUpdate class provided by the ServiceWorkModule.

This github repository has sample code for the above concepts.

Written on December 19, 2017