Google opens Polymer toolbox for Progressive Web Apps

The Polymer App Toolbox helps developers build nativelike mobile systems

Emphasizing its Progressive Web Apps mantra, Google is offering Polymer App Toolbox for building nativelike mobile Web apps with the company's Polymer library.

In the toolbox, developers get a set of loosely coupled components and tools to build a Progressive Web Application using the "modern platform," Google said.

"The toolbox is just a set of components and tools based around Web platform primitives that make it easy to build cutting-edge Progressive Web applications," said Taylor Savage, Google product manager for Polymer. It includes components for layout, routing, localization, and storage, as well as a command-line tool to tie everything together.

Polymer, meanwhile, features a library to leverage Web Components, a standardized platform for extending HTML and componentizing apps.

Savage noted that the Web platform has not been not great for delivering immersive experiences. "The lowest-level visual primitive that you get as a Web developer is an HTML tag," he said. HTML itself has not evolved much, but user expectations have. "What has evolved and what has gotten significantly more powerful is JavaScript," Savage said. As such, it's been used as an "escape hatch" to create applike experiences on the mobile Web, he said.

Meta-platforms, runtimes, frameworks, and tool chains have been built around JavaScript, which worked for desktop applications. "But there's been a major change in the Web, which is the mobile Web," according to Savage, and this is where a strategy of over-reliance on JavaScript no longer works.

Instead, mobile Web apps can be built using what's already in the browser, via the Web platform. "On the Polymer project, we want to make it easy by building tools and libraries to leverage these new powerful features to build lower-overhead, higher-quality applications," Savage said.

Google is offering guidance on getting started with Polymer App Toolbox, involving installation of the Polymer CLI, initializing project templates, and serving projects.

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