Personal Websites as App Replacements

There is a lot of talk of Progressive Web Apps these days. To be honest, I need to do some more reading on it since my understanding is fairly superficial.1 Thinking about native apps and web technologies has given me a couple ideas for new ways I can use my own site as a personal app, replacing some native apps that I currently use.

The two ways I am thinking of using my website are as a quote collection book and an inspiration aggregator (basically a visual database of design, photography, and illustration). Currently I use an iOS app called Quotebook and a Mac app called Ember for those tasks, but both have shortcomings which could be overcome if their content were kept on my website. Quotebook doesn’t exist on the Mac and its syncing, because it is backed by iCloud Core Data syncing, has been spotty for me whenever I get a new device. Ember is fantastic, unfortunately there is no iOS client, and its developer has abandoned it. I have downloaded an app that provides the same functionality, called Pixave, but am hesitant to commit the time to move over to something with the same potential issues.

My personal site could easily host this content, with the same level of tagging, annotating, and linking ability of either app. It is also fairly straightforward in my CMS to make them only accessible to a logged in user, i.e. myself. I would not have to worry about any syncing infrastructure, because it lives on the web and is accessible from whichever device I choose. I would also not have to worry about neglect from any third party developer, because I control it, and I can keep access to this content for years to come.

This is one of the benefits of running my own website. If I see a need for something that is not well served by others I can dedicate a few hours to building out a new feature on my own site. The web is a great place.

  1. At first glance, it seems like a rebranding of Progressive Enhancement, specifically focusing on web apps, with websites behaving more like native apps because of new technologies, like Service Workers.