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Progressive Web Apps (PWA) Testing | What , How to do & Tools

February 1, 2024Shanika Wickramasinghe
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Progressive Web Apps (PWA) Testing What , How to do & Tools
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Progressive Web Applications (PWAs) represent a modern approach to web development, effectively combining the best features of traditional web applications and native mobile apps. Testing PWAs is essential to ensure optimal performance, functionality, and an improved user experience. 

This comprehensive article covers various aspects of the PWA test, including tools, test scenarios, key considerations, manual and automated testing approaches,  technical components, and how to test PWA locally. It highlights how to maximize their full potential through effective testing practices. Also, you can learn more about Testsigma, the best AI-driven test automation platform that helps you automate your PWA test.

What is PWA?

A Progressive Web Application is a modern web application that combines the best features of web and native apps that can be tested using a PWA tester. PWAs provide features such as push notifications, offline mode, fast load times, and home screen shortcuts. They utilize modern web technologies, including Service Workers, to act like native apps. So, there is no need to download from app stores. For example, to experience Twitter Lite as a PWA, users can navigate to mobile.twitter.com from a mobile browser, such as Chrome, and then add the app to their home screen.

What is PWA testing?

PWA testing is a process of evaluating and ensuring the performance, functionality, and user experience of a PWA through a PWA tester. A PWA test can be done using PWA testing tools on both desktop and mobile platforms.

Why are PWAs Testing Preferred?

A large-scale PWA test is required as numerous businesses use this approach. There are several reasons why the PWA test is better than traditional website testing.

PWA test is preferred for its ability to ensure offline functionality, cross-platform compatibility, and smooth installation directly from web browsers, reducing dependence on app stores. PWA test verifies enhanced performance, user experience, and security measures at significant savings and with more adaptability than existing web testing tools.

Technical components of PWA

There are two main technical components of PWA.

  1. Web App Manifest file

A manifest file is a simple JSON file that gives the developer control over how the user visualizes the app. It configures metadata about PWA, including the app’s name, details about the icon displayed on the home screen, theme color, and other settings. Manifest.json also enables you to customize splash screens as native apps.

  1. Service Worker

A service worker is a stand-alone JavaScript file in PWAs that handles user interactions without requiring a web page or application. It monitors network requests and provides functionalities like offline work mode, push notifications, and background synchronization. Service workers serve as a proxy between the web application and network in PWAs. It is essential for caching resources and ensuring a smooth offline experience.

Why PWA Tests Are Important for PWA Framework?

Many businesses have either switched to a PWA framework for their current responsive web apps or are planning to do so soon. So, PWAs also require careful software testing like other applications. PWA test ensures superior and seamless digital experiences for users.

Given the increasing popularity of PWAs, success relies on having the expertise and PWA test tools necessary to create, test, and debug these apps. A PWA test can evaluate features like offline mode, push notifications, and responsive design. It ensures that PWAs work appropriately on a range of devices and browsers.

Advantages of PWA testing

Here are a few advantages of the PWA test.

  • Ensure Cross-Browser and Cross-Platform Compatibility: Ensure the effective functioning across various web browsers and platforms.
  • Verify Offline Functionality: The PWA test ensures that the application behaves as expected in offline mode.
  • Performance Optimization: Contributes to a faster and more efficient user experience in loading times, responsiveness, and resource utilization.
  • Security Assurance: A proper PWA test can identify and address potential security vulnerabilities.
  • Automated Testing Efficiency: Automated testing tools can streamline repetitive tasks, conduct regression testing, and identify issues early in the development cycle.


Limitations of PWAs

  • Difficulty in optimizing device resources as PWA doesn’t have complete hardware control.
  • Difficulty in Working with Device-Specific Features.
  • Limited functionality support compared to traditional web apps.
  • Support from wearables and other Apple devices is less.
  • Challenges with legacy devices because PWAs are a relatively new concept and incompatible with older browsers on legacy devices

How to test PWAs? (manual and automated)

If an application has the PWA design, QAs need to verify a few specific things, as mentioned by Google

Here are the steps on how to implement a PWA test using Testsigma, a no-code test automation tool..

Step 1 – Create an account and sign in to testsigma.

Step 2 –  Create a new project using the ‘Create New’ dropdown. Give the project name and description(If needed). Then, choose the project type.

Test Runs

Step 3 – Create Testcase based on the test scenario and click on ‘Write Test’.

create test case

Step 4 – Write a script for the test case. Start with the ‘Navigate’ step to navigate to the URL we want and click on the ‘Record’ Button to document the elements in the application.

Test steps

Step 5 – Then, the page will automatically navigate to the given URL.Double-click on the ‘functional elements and fields’ required in the test case. The page shows a pop-up screen and the elements collected. It will also document the coordinates of the target position.

Record Test steps

You can include verification points and insert mock data in test cases in Scripting.

NLP

Advanced features such as Step Group (Set of Test Steps), Custom Function, For Loop, While Loop, Restful API, and Conditional If can be used.

Test steps

Step 6 – Click on the ‘Run’ button and select specifications as needed.

Ad hoc run

Step 7 – Finally, you can get the PWA test result. After the execution, the recorded Video and screenshots can be accessible.

Test steps execution
Test Steps


Test Scenarios for a PWA

  • Validate manifest files: Verify that the manifest file has the necessary properties, such as name, short_name, and icons, specified correctly. Test the PWA’s appearance and behavior when added to the home screen.
  • Test Service Worker & Push Notification: Test how the PWA handles push notifications when the app is open, closed, or in the background and how the Service Worker handles caching, background sync, and push events.
  • Test Responsiveness: Responsiveness for mobile and desktop devices and browser compatibility.
  • Test Functionality on Real Devices: Test app functionality either by using automation or manual PWA test.
  • Local Testing: Test an app before it is launched to Production using a localhost connection.
  • Installation and launch: Add to-screen functionality and offline launch performance.

Ways to Test Progressive Web Applications (PWAs)

Manual:

You can do the PWA test manually by checking the following features.

  • Compatibility Testing
  • Offline functionality
  • Push Notifications
  • Installation and launch
  • Performance testing
  • Security check
  • Accessibility testing

Also, you can create test cases manually using natural language.

Automated:

There are several cloud-based testing platforms for launching automated web tests where you can test PWAs at scale. Testsigma is one of the popular PWA testing tools that uses simple English and an intuitive UI to increase the speed of test automation by up to five times. So, it is as simple as writing manual tests. You can even use Test Recorder to create test steps automatically. To test PWA on localhost, you have to install the Testsigma agent. Because, in some applications, Testsigma doesn’t have access due to security reasons. Refer to the official documentation of Testsigma to know more about how to test PWA on localhost or the cloud.

Automated Web Testing

Key Points To Keep In Mind While Testing PWA

  • Validate PWA Manifest: Verifying inclusion of name or short_name property, start_url property, presence of icon property with 192px and 512px icons, and display property is set to standalone, fullscreen, or minimal-UI.
  • Service Worker Validation: Validate the registration and functionality of the service worker and confirm that the service worker effectively handles tasks such as caching and network requests.
  • HTTPS protocol compliance: Ensure the entire Progressive Web Application (PWA) is served over HTTPS to prioritize user safety.
  • Ensure responsiveness: Validate that the PWA exhibits responsive behavior across various devices, including desktop and mobile.
  • Add to home screen metadata: Verify metadata for the ‘Add to home screen’ functionality. Verify that users can quickly add the web application to the home screen of their devices.
  • Unique URLs for each page: Ensure every PWA page has a unique URL.
  • Smooth Page Transitions: Assess how easy it is to navigate the PWA.
  • Offline Loading Capability: Test the application’s response when accessed without an internet connection using PWA test tools.

Other Automation tools which can be used for testing PWAs

In addition to Testsigma, there are other tools that can be used for testing PWAs, as mentioned below:

  1. CloudQA

It is now simple for testers without coding experience to develop and run functional test cases. It is by using CloudQA’s user-friendly Test Recorder tool for codeless automation. You can create assertions, record and store test steps, and quickly control test case execution with this tool, which is available as a Chrome extension. Also, you can manually carry out functional tests with a simple interface, and the tool records the steps for later reference.

  1. Appium

Appium is a mobile test automation framework for native, hybrid, and m-web apps. It uses JSON wire protocol. It is an HTTP server in Node.js that starts tests on devices and listens for commands from the main server. You can use it with an existing automation framework by adding open-source Appium libraries.

  1. Lighthouse by Google

Lighthouse is an automated, open-source tool for improving the quality of web pages. It evaluates applications against PWA guidelines, checking for criteria such as offline functionality, speed optimization, secure origins (HTTPS), and adherence to accessibility best practices. You can use Lighthouse as a Node module, at the command line, or with Chrome DevTools. After you provide Lighthouse with a URL to audit, it performs many audits on the page and produces a performance report.

  1. Puppeteer

Puppeteer is a Node library that provides a high-level API for browser automation using the headless Chrome browser. It includes key features such as Javascript-based testing, ideal for testing PWA features like Service workers, and supports headless and full-page browser testing.

  1. Playwright

Playwright is an open-source testing framework that enables automation and reliable testing for modern web applications. It includes a Playwright Library for linking third-party programs easily and a built-in Playwright Test Runner for test automation. It supports multiple programming languages, such as Javascript, C#, etc, and browser automation with a single API.

Conclusion

Progressive Web Applications, or PWAs, are revolutionary developments in web design that provide users with a smooth and better experience on numerous devices. You have to do proper testing to assure optimum functionality and user satisfaction as more and more companies rely on the PWA framework. The PWA test has many advantages, like cross-browser compatibility and offline functionality verification. It emphasizes how important it is to produce reliable and secure web apps. With the correct PWA test tools and a solid understanding of crucial testing factors, developers and quality assurance professionals can successfully navigate the PWAs. Testsigma is one of the best tools that create automated tests to test PWA on localhost or the cloud.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to test PWA on Desktop (Chrome Browser)

Visit the website you want to install as a PWA. From the browser menu, select “Install + Website’s name”. Then, a banner will appear at the top center; click the “Install” button to continue.

How do I locally test a PWA?

Knowing how to test PWA locally is crucial. You can use Testsigma with the Testsigma agent. It is a small Java utility. Otherwise, you can use tools like Node.js or Python with HTTP-server after learning how to test PWA on localhost. Launch the local server and navigate to http://localhost:8080. Test PWA features and technologies like service workers and manifest.json using browser developer tools.

Meta Description – This article discusses Progressive Web Apps (PWA) Testing including definitions, features, how to implement automated pwa test and tools that can be used.

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