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Why we choose Glide for building progressive web apps: Insights from our experience

Why we choose Glide for building progressive web apps: Insights from our experience

We think Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are the next evolution of web applications. Why? Because they combine the best features of traditional websites and native mobile apps. PWAs offer a seamless, app-like experience to users, with fast loading times, offline functionality, and the ability to send push notifications, all while being easily accessible through a web browser.

With the increasing demand for robust and engaging digital experiences, building PWAs has become a priority for many businesses and developers. However, the process of creating a PWA from scratch can be time-consuming and technically challenging.

This is where Glide comes into play. Glide is our favorite platform to build PWAs because it has allowed us to take our client’s ideas from concept to a working prototype in a fraction of the time it would have taken with traditional development.

Why Glide is THE tool to build PWAs?

  • Faster development: With a visual, drag-and-drop interface, you can rapidly prototype and iterate on your PWA design, saving valuable time and resources.
  • Cost-effective: Building a native app for each platform can be prohibitively expensive. Glide allows us to create cross-platform PWAs that reach a wider audience without the cost overhead of traditional development.

Pre-development considerations

We recommend you start by clearly defining the essential features and functionality required for your PWA. This includes aspects such as data management, user authentication, offline capabilities, push notifications, and any other specific requirements unique to your project.

Then, you can review Glide's documentation and available resources to understand its current feature set and capabilities. Glide offers a robust set of features out-of-the-box, including data integration, user authentication, offline functionality, push notifications, and more, which we’ll cover in the next sections of this article.

Match your project requirements against Glide's capabilities to identify potential gaps or limitations. If there are any critical features or functionality that Glide cannot provide natively, evaluate the possibility of implementing custom solutions or integrating with third-party services

While Glide is designed to handle a wide range of projects, it's essential to consider your PWA's expected user load, data volume, and performance requirements. Evaluate Glide's scalability and performance capabilities against your project's needs, and plan accordingly.

Key features of Glide

  1. Data integration: Seamless integration with various data sources, including Google Sheets, Airtable, and SQL databases, enabling the creation of data-driven PWAs.
  2. Simple deployment and maintenance: Glide simplifies the deployment process by offering domain configuration, SSL certification, and hosting options. The platform also handles pushing out new features and security patches behind the scenes, so your PWA stays updated.
  3. User authentication: Built-in user authentication and authorization capabilities, supporting features like sign-in, sign-up, and role-based access control.
  4. AI integration: Glide supports integration with artificial intelligence (AI) services. You can enhance your PWA with features like natural language processing and image recognition.
  5. Offline functionality: PWAs built with Glide can work offline, allowing users to access and interact with data even without an internet connection.
  6. Push notifications: The ability to send push notifications to users, so they stay informed about important updates or events.
  7. Customizable design: Extensive design customization options, including the ability to modify layouts, themes, and branding elements to align to brand guidelines.
  8. Community support: Glide has an active community of users and developers. You can consult their forums, documentation, and direct support channels for all the resources and guidance you need throughout the development process.
  9. Third-party integrations: Support for integrating with various third-party services and APIs to extend the functionality of your PWA as needed.
  10. Collaborative development: Glide's platform facilitates collaborative development and enables multiple team members to work on the same PWA project simultaneously.
  11. Templates: You don’t have to start from scratch: there are Glide templates for a lot of use cases to kickstart your project. We have some creations of our own published at Glide’s official site for you to check out.

Design and user experience (UX)

You want your app to look great and also provide a clean, engaging experience for your users. Luckily, Glide has you covered with its powerful design capabilities and adherence to UX best practices.

Glide offers a lot of design flexibility. You're not limited to a predefined set of templates because Glide's visual editor lets you build custom designs that align perfectly with your branding and vision. You can choose the color schemes and typography to layout arrangements and iconography, and you have full control over every aspect of the PWA's look and feel.

Glide also stays ahead of the curve by incorporating UX best practices into its platform. For instance, the drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to create logical information hierarchies and intuitive navigation flows to ensure that users can easily find what they're looking for.

As for navigation options, you have bottom bars, side menus, and tabbed interfaces, and you can choose the most appropriate structure for your PWA based on its content and use case. Responsiveness is another crucial aspect of UX, and Glide also offers a simple solution in this area. The app will automatically adapt to different screen sizes and resolutions, so users get a consistent and optimized experience across desktops, tablets, and mobile devices. 

Financial considerations: Is Glide cost-effective?

Glide offers a tiered pricing structure, you can choose the adequate depending on your project needs and budget. Here's a general overview:

  • Free: Best for learning and building basic apps. Includes limited features and the ability to publish one app.
  • Maker ($49/month): For individual creators or small teams. Offers custom branding, AI capabilities, and a new Zapier integration.
  • Team ($99/month): Ideal for teams collaborating on internal tools. Includes unlimited apps, 5 editors, 20+ users, and Basic API access.
  • Business ($249/month): For professional apps with larger user bases. Features database connectivity, API calls, and single sign-on.
  • Enterprise (Custom pricing): Tailored for large organizations with specific needs and security requirements.

For startups with limited budgets, Glide's free plan can be a great starting point. It allows them to experiment with PWA development and test core functionalities before committing to a paid plan. When businesses are more established and requirements evolve, they can upgrade to the Maker plan, which is best suited for individual creators or small teams working on personal projects or non-commercial apps.

Bigger businesses, on the other hand, may find more value in Glide's higher-tier plans. The Team plan is ideal for teams collaborating on internal tools or apps for small groups, offering features like unlimited apps, multiple editors, and API access. The Business plan is geared towards building professional-grade PWAs with larger user bases, providing robust features like database connectivity and single sign-on functionality.

For larger enterprises with unique needs and stringent security requirements, Glide offers custom Enterprise plans tailored to their specific requirements. These plans ensure that businesses can leverage the power of Glide's no-code PWA development platform while meeting their organizational demands.

Extending beyond native capabilities

We covered a lot of the features and capabilities of Glide, but there may be instances where you need to extend functionality beyond what's available out of the box. This is where integrations with external APIs and services come into play. You can use them to tailor your PWAs even more and to meet any specific requirements you might have.

Integration with data sources

Connect to Airtable or Google Sheets to transform these familiar data sources into fully-fledged PWAs, complete with robust data management capabilities, offline functionality, and user authentication. This means you can build powerful data-driven applications without the need for complex back-end infrastructure or costly database management.

Integration with Make

Glide’s partnership with Make opens up a world of possibilities for automating workflows and streamlining processes. Make is a powerful automation platform that allows us to connect Glide PWAs with thousands of other apps and services. With Make, you can set up connections with many services and allow them to exchange data. This lets us create all kinds of automation scenarios. For instance, we can set up automated triggers that update your PWA's data based on events in your CRM, project management tool, or e-commerce platform. Your PWA will always reflect the most up-to-date information.

Custom components

Glide's component library is extensive, but there may be instances where you need to create custom UI components or reusable modules. Glide supports the development of custom components using React, a popular JavaScript library for building user interfaces.

When you create custom components, you can encapsulate complex functionality and UI patterns into reusable building blocks that make it easier to keep consistency across your app. It can be especially valuable when working on large-scale projects or building a design system for your clients.

Other integrations

  • Payment processors: Enable secure in-app purchases and subscriptions with Stripe and PayPal. Great for selling products or services directly through your PWA.
  • Communication: Keep users informed with powerful email marketing tools like SendGrid and Mailchimp. You can use these integrations to set up newsletters, promotional campaigns, transactional emails, build email lists, send automated emails, user onboarding, and more.
  • Google Maps: Add interactive maps and location-based features to your apps. Ideal for: delivery services, finding nearby points of interest, and location-specific content.
  • Analytics & marketing: Google Analytics can give you valuable insights into user behavior within your PWA. Mixpanel can track user engagement and measure the success of specific features.
  • Other functionalities: You can integrate Twilio to set up SMS notifications. Webhooks lets you receive real-time notifications from external services and trigger actions within your PWA. PDF monkey lets you create PDFs directly from your Glide app's data. DocuSign can be integrated if you need users to electronically sign documents within your app. 

Note: Remember to explore Glide's native features first to avoid unnecessary integrations.

Advanced features and technical insights

Incorporating custom code into Glide PWAs requires a high level of expertise and technical proficiency. While Glide empowers non-technical users to build PWAs without writing code, there are instances where custom code becomes necessary to unlock advanced features and functionalities. This is where working with a skilled development agency like ours can be invaluable.

Custom Javascript

Glide is primarily a no-code platform, but it still allows you to inject custom JavaScript code into your PWAs. JavaScript code can extend the functionality of your PWA in countless ways. You can create complex calculations, data transformations, and dynamic UI elements. You can also integrate with external APIs and services that may not be natively supported by Glide.

However, to do this you need developers with the knowledge and skills necessary to write clean, optimized, and maintainable code. Moreover, working with custom JavaScript requires a solid grasp of best practices, security considerations, and performance optimization techniques. 

Custom CSS

In addition to JavaScript, Glide also supports custom CSS, which gives you granular control over the visual styling and layout of your PWAs. While Glide offers a good set of design tools and customization options, custom CSS lets you fine-tune every aspect of your application's appearance. 

We use custom CSS to override default styles, create intricate animations and transitions, and implement advanced layout techniques that may not be achievable through Glide's visual editor alone. It is necessary if we want to check all the boxes when implementing the branding and design guidelines of our clients.

Real-world applications

Beyond the technical specs, Glide shines in its ability to solve real-world problems across various industries. We have some great use cases for you to explore:

Sales dashboards

Real-time dashboards for sales teams to visualize key metrics like sales pipeline, conversion rates, and individual performance.

Customer relationship management (CRM)

CRMs for sales teams to manage leads, track interactions, and access customer data offline. 

  • IntroCRM

We built IntroCRM for a team that needed a system that could handle incoming leads efficiently and provide valuable insights into their prospects. Manually entering leads one by one is time-consuming and error-prone. Plus, they wanted to track, rate, and manage their contacts all in the same place. We knew Glide's no-code platform was the perfect tool for the job. 

With IntroCRM they can now easily manage their leads, in an organized and accessible platform built for their needs. We integrated data visualization tools that provide valuable insights into their prospect pipeline, and now they can make data-driven decisions for lead nurturing. The app helped them hit a 45% increase in lead conversion rates!

Inventory management

Internal apps for warehouse staff to manage stock levels, process orders, and track product information in real-time.

Job portals

Branded web apps to showcase your company’s job postings, applicant management, and communication with potential hires. Our own LowCode Agency job portal is built with Glide!

Project management

Internal project management tools with task lists, deadlines, file sharing, and team chat functionalities.

  • Herzig

Herzig Engineering, a leader in workplace safety, was struggling with its project management system. Salesforce's complex interface didn’t offer the right tools to collaborate across their team and it was slowing them down. They needed a way to effortlessly track projects, foster communication, and gain real-time project insights.

We built a custom app with Glide that transformed their project management with a smooth experience for administrators, Herzig users, and clients alike. Now they can efficiently manage accounts, projects, and locations with an app connected to Salesforce to retrieve their data. The features include milestone tracking, a secure "read-only" interface to keep stakeholders informed, and a built-in chat feature for better communication. The app helped Herzig with project visibility and tracking accuracy, which improved by 30%. 

Field data collection apps

Apps for field workers to collect data, submit reports, and access real-time updates to eliminate paperwork and ensure a better information flow.

Student portals

Web apps for students to access course materials, submit assignments, and connect with instructors.

  • Language keeper

What if a student portal could do more? What if it could personalize learning, provide real-time feedback, and transform language acquisition? With Glide + AI, Language Keeper can do all that. It brings interactive practices to students and takes language acquisition to the next level.

Nibras Clapp came to us with this challenging project, she wanted to build an app to help military personnel retain their language skills between annual trainings. We used Glide to build an app with integrated AI capabilities. It analyzes the student’s progress and delivers tailored feedback, ensuring they focus on the areas that require the most improvement.

Browse through all of our Glide projects for inspiration!

Continuous improvement

Our experience in software development has taught us to favor an iterative development approach, this means rolling out features in incremental milestones, rather than attempting to build everything at once. 

We favor no-code and Glide because it's perfectly suited for this iterative approach. It enables us to rapidly prototype and validate core features, ensuring that we're on the right track before investing significant resources into development.

We always say "Start simple, scale smart". Glide's visual interface allows us to develop apps using a staged approach that minimizes risk, ensures user satisfaction, and keeps your PWA focused on what matters most. We've found milestone rollouts to be highly effective, and this is the process we champion:

  • Scope and prioritize features: Our first step is to work closely with you to understand your requirements and prioritize features into "must-have," "should-have," and "nice-to-have" categories. This initial scoping exercise ensures that we have a clear roadmap for incremental development.
  • Build and launch core functionalities: We build and launch the first version with "must-have" features. Glide allows us to deliver functional PWA with core functionalities that address your immediate needs. This initial release may not encompass the full scope, but it provides a solid foundation.
  • Iterate through milestone releases: With the core PWA in place, we iterate and enhance it through a series of pre-defined milestone releases. Each milestone focuses on introducing the pre-scoped "should-have" and "nice-to-have" features. Glide's flexibility makes iteration a breeze. We can continuously improve your PWA based on user insights and keep it fresh and engaging over the long term.

The combination of no-code development and Glide's platform allows us to create PWAs that are user-centric, efficient, and constantly evolving. This staged approach with continuous feedback loops ensures your PWA  delivers value from day one and scales as your business grows. Developing a PWA with Glide isn't a one-time thing. Continuous improvement is key to keeping your app relevant, engaging, and successful. 

Glide updates and support

Glide is committed to continuous improvement and platform stability. Here's what you can expect:

Regular updates and new features: Glide frequently releases updates and new features to enhance its platform capabilities. This ensures your PWA can evolve as technology and user preferences change.

Reliable infrastructure: Glide prioritizes uptime and security, giving you peace of mind knowing your PWA is always accessible and protected.

Dedicated support: Glide offers various support options, including documentation, tutorials, and an active community forum. You'll have the resources you need to keep your PWA thriving over the long term.

Comparison with competitors

Bubble

  • Offers more advanced features and customization options than Glide.
  • It has a steeper learning curve and requires more technical skills.
  • Highly flexible but more complex development process.
  • More suitable for building complex, large-scale web applications.
  • Pricing can be higher, especially for larger projects.
  • Bubble apps can be published in app stores, but you need to use a third-party service.

Adalo

  • Similar to Glide in terms of ease of use and drag-and-drop interface.
  • Focused primarily on building mobile apps, while Glide specializes in PWAs.
  • Offers native mobile app development capabilities.
  • More limited in terms of data integration and third-party integrations.
  • The pricing structure is comparable to Glide's.

Softr

  • More limited in terms of features and customization options.
  • Ideal for quickly building basic internal tools and simple apps.
  • Offers fewer data integration options compared to Glide.
  • Pricing is generally lower than Glide but with more limitations.

Appsheet

  • Strong focus on automating workflows and integrating with enterprise systems.
  • Similar to Glide, it supports many data sources: SQL databases, Google Sheets, and more.
  • Offers robust features like user management, offline capabilities, and geolocation.
  • The pricing structure is more complex, with multiple tiers and add-on costs.

We're the leading Glide agency, and our experts can guide you through every step of building your PWA.

Let’s discuss your project! Get a detailed quote tailored to your specific needs. 

Created on 

April 20, 2024

. Last updated on 

May 26, 2024

.

Thinh Dinh

 - 

Senior Developer

Thinh is a Senior Glide Developer at LowCode Agency, having joined the team in 2020. He transitioned from a background in Logistics & Supply Chain Management to pursue his passion for technology.

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