Problem: development of new functionality is slowed down by the need to maintain code for different platforms on mobile phones and laptops. That is why we started building a new web app for Project Hours together with Masking Technology. The app can run in a browser on a laptop and as an app on iPhone and Android phones.

Because the app is basically a web site with extra features it will be easier for mobile users to find and use Project Hours for time tracking. The app is built using Masking Tech’s development framework and Progressive Web App technology (PWA).  This article describes the advantages and disadvantages of using progressive web apps.

why a web app?

Well, the most important feature for Project Hours is that web apps are platform-independent. Whether you use an iPhone or Android phone, web apps are just mobile web sites that can run in any browser on any device. In addition to that progressive web apps enable extra capabilities in modern browsers. This makes web apps installable and more reliable. If you run the app on an older phone it will still run, but without some of the newer features.

project-hours-web-app

Uniform development

For Project Hours this means that there will be one app that can be used on all mobile devices. This saves a lot of development effort and provides a more unified experience for organisations that use Project Hours. All employees will see the same app for time-tracking with the same look and feel across devices.

Better Seo Results

Also, since web apps are basically web pages and don’t have to be downloaded from an app store, web apps are easier to find in search engines on the Internet. This is an advantage for Project Hours and for organisations that are looking for a simple solution for their time tracking needs.

Improved MaiNtainability

The app is developed by Masking Technology. The Masking Technology framework allows for building software components that are easy to expand and maintain. The framework combines the best of low-code solutions with the flexibility of development environments where coding is necessary, like the .NET MVC framework.

Modular Design

How is that possible? Because Masking uses its own design language to define web-based components. The language is flexible enough to define and link any web component, regardless of their complexity. In this way the logic and flow of the application is separated from the actual implementation. This greatly improves the design and makes it easier to maintain and expand the app.

Drawbacks 

This sounds too good to be true.. what are the disadvantages? Well to start with, to take advantage of web apps, we will have to rebuilt all functionality that is currently available on the Project Hours website and mobile apps. That is quite an effort. Next to that, the progressive web app platform is relatively new, so not all browsers and app stores support all its features. Since PWA apps are web pages, performance can be less than native apps because native apps can directly access system resources whereas web apps run via a web browser.

The Masking platform offers great flexibility but developers will face a rather steep learning curve to master the technology . Since the Masking platform is also relatively new it will become easier to learn as its IDE is further developed. Also more training material will become available over time.

Next Steps

So what is ahead of us? This will be a long road as Project Hours continues to add new features to its existing platforms. For the web app the plan is to first add the most common time tracking features to the web app so that it will meet most basic time-tracking requirements. Over time, when all features are available in the web app, Project Hours will be able to replace its native apps with one web app.

If you want to know more about Masking Technology or Project Hours do not hesitate to contact us, any feedback will help us to improve!