Iris Classon
Iris Classon - In Love with Code

Stupid Question 167 & 168: What are packaged web apps and is it the same as hosted apps?

[To celebrate my first year of programming I will ask a ‘stupid’ questions daily on my blog for a year, to make sure I learn at least 365 new things during my second year as a developer]

Packaged apps deliver an experience as capable as a native app, but as safe as a web page.

Chromes own definition. But what does this mean? And when did this happen ‘all of a sudden’?

I watched the Google I/O event last July. It was sunny and warm outside, I hadn’t taken any vacation and was working on a web app. As always I had my third monitor running the video’s of the day. This time watching the live streamed event (Google I/O 2012 conference – learn about Android, Chrome, Chrome OS, Google APIs, Google Web Toolkit, App Engine, and more)

In case you missed it, the sessions are available here.

I can’t remember seen or hearing about packaged web apps, but it was there all along- well hidden among the sessions. Look, there we have it!

So what are packaged web apps?

Packaged apps are apps written in JavaScript, HTML5 and CSS that *kind of* behave like native apps, but as they say – ‘are as safe as web apps’. The key to safe as is also why I wrote *kind of*- because there are some limitations. Some of (but far from all) limitations/disabled web features aredescribed here. The app UI and the logic is actually run locally- hence the ‘packaged’ in the name- and the app is launched outside of the browser and the developer has full control of the app UI.
In short packaged web apps are browser-based apps with a native feel, that’s the best description I can give based on what I’ve understood.

No browser chrome, no address bar, no tabs, no back button- and you have access to quite a few sweet API’s (TCP, UCP etc.), as well as have multiple windows that interact with each other.
While I’ve seen a few blog posts mentioning that due to the CSP (Content Security Policy) there are a few issues using UI frameworks such as Kendo UI (disclaimer- I work for Telerik) it is absolutely possible, no problem! Sorry for the video-spam, but here is awesome run-down for how to do that.

Kendo UI and Google Present: Building Chrome Packaged Apps

So what is the deal with Hosted Web Apps?
Chrome has this idea of installable web apps, websites that seem like apps. There are two main types, hosted web apps and packaged web apps. Hosted web apps require the user to be online to access the apps resources, while packaged apps can be run offline.

So that is that. I’ll see if I can find the time to actually make an app, I have to admit I haven’t done that yet- but it has been added to my ever-growing to-do list :)


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Last modified on 2013-03-25