Auto-generating webapps from... the web

  • Sorry to bother you again with a crazy idea, which I would like to share with you 😃

    The current situation is: If you want to have a web app, you are installing it from the OpenStore. That means someone needs to create this webapp (for example with the webapp creator) and publish it. So the OpenStore is providing a list of webapps which are mostly bookmarks with the following informations:
    Name, URL, icon, permissions, Headerbar or not.

    Some big companies like Google are working on "Progressive web apps" since a couple of years. That means that a website can now have a manifest with informations like this:

      "short_name": "Maps",
      "name": "Google Maps",
      "icons": [
          "src": "/images/icons-192.png",
          "type": "image/png",
          "sizes": "192x192"
          "src": "/images/icons-512.png",
          "type": "image/png",
          "sizes": "512x512"
      "start_url": "/maps/?source=pwa",
      "background_color": "#3367D6",
      "display": "standalone",
      "scope": "/maps/",
      "theme_color": "#3367D6"

    This allows us in theory to check if a website IS a web app and we have all informations to generate the webapp without user interaction automatically.

    Also progressive web apps are supporting web push notifications which are in theory compatible with UBports push service, but thats another task...

    But still someone needs to publish it to the OpenStore...

    For this I see two solutions:

    1. Provide a "Add-to-homescreen" button in the browser. Then the user can search by himself and install webapps like he want. This is the common way on Android now.

    2. And this is my new idea: Create a webapp search engine for the OpenStore! Something like if the user is searching for "Google maps", the OpenStore will perform a web search (duckduckgo? Searx?) for "Google Maps" and will check the results for a webapp manifest and if they have one, it will become a search result. I would assume that this search could also be made client side so the OpenStore doesn't need to save any data about this. Of course it should be visible, that these results are done with a web search so the OpenStore is not responsible if it shows illegal web apps.

    So what do you think? Is this even possible or a good idea?

  • @Krille Ubuntu used to provide a website to generate webapps for UT so it must be possible 🙂

    1. Yes, this should happen, but implementing it correctly is a fairly massive change.

    2. I don't think Open Store should implement a web crawler as such. It's just not an efficient use of time. It would have to crawl the web itself, as the method you suggest can lead to some serious problems (for example, searching for "Google Maps" on search engine, but first result is play store link, competing web site, or an article/blog post about it).

  • You don't have to publish the webapp you createwith Webapp Creator, You can just open them with the OpenStore in the last step* and you can install them locally.

    Said that, I'm not saying you can't implement your idea 🙂

    *tap on «Install or save» > choose OpenStore as targeted app of the ContentHub > tap install on the OpenStore install popup)

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