How Do Progressive Web App Splash Screens Work?

How Do Progressive Web App Splash Screens Work?

Progressive Web Applications use the web manifest icons array to pull images for splash screens. iOS still leans on Apple's touch icon syntax.

With a progressive web application the splash screen is displayed if there is a delay ‘spinning up the site’. This is typically because the browser is in a cold start and does not have everything primed to just request and render the page.

The splash screen used by most browsers is composed from data in the manifest file, the name, background_color and what it deems is the best sized icon specified in the icon list. The service worker plays no role in the splash screen experience.

If you have a single page application you will have excess delay rendering your site after the browser passes that point. Here you might want to embed a default ‘splash screen experience’ in your HTML that just uses HTML and CSS to render, well maybe an image too. The JavaScript is the limiting agent in single page apps and with many of the frameworks adds 20-40 seconds to the rendering cycle, so having something other than a blank page helps a little.

So what do you do to drive a controlled splash screen experience for your progressive web apps?

The Web Manifest File

In the past, as you will see shortly for iOS, we have used META tags in a page's HEAD element to drive application theming to the browser. This includes colors, icons and the splash screen for some browsers.

With progressive web applications you must have a valid web manifest file. In this file you can specify your application title, how it should launch, colors and images that can be used for icons and splash screens.

The web manifest icons property is an array of icon objects. The icon object has 3 properties: src, type and sizes. The sizes property is simple syntax for height and width.

{ "src": "meta/android/android-launchericon-512-512.png", "type": "image/png", "sizes": "512x512" }

The browser uses the sizes property to understand the image's size so it can select the best image for the viewport.

My PWAStarter tool will not only generate the manifest file for you it will also create a base set of over 100 images for your PWA.

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