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WordPress feature plugin to bring Progressive Web Apps (PWA) to Core
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Banner WordPress feature plugin to bring Progressive Web App (PWA) capabilities to Core

Contributors: google, xwp
Tags: pwa, progressive web apps, service workers, web app manifest, https
Requires at least: 5.2
Tested up to: 5.3
Stable tag: 0.3.0
License: GPLv2 or later
Requires PHP: 5.6

Build Status Built with Grunt


Progressive Web Apps are user experiences that have the reach of the web, and are:
  • Reliable - Load instantly and never show the downasaur, even in uncertain network conditions.
  • Fast - Respond quickly to user interactions with silky smooth animations and no janky scrolling.
  • Engaging - Feel like a natural app on the device, with an immersive user experience.

This new level of quality allows Progressive Web Apps to earn a place on the user's home screen.

Continue reading more about Progressive Web Apps (PWA) from Google.

In general a PWA depends on the following technologies to be available:

This plugin serves as a place to implement support for these in WordPress with the intention of being proposed for core merge, piece by piece.

☞ Please note that this feature plugin is not intended to obsolete the other plugins and themes which turn WordPress sites into PWAs. Rather, this plugin is intended to provide the PWA building blocks and coordination mechanism for these themes and plugins to not reinvent the wheel and also to not conflict with each other. For example, a theme that implements the app shell model should be able to extend the core service worker while a plugin that provides push notifications should be able to do the same. Themes and plugins no longer should have to each create a service worker on their own, something which is inherently problematic because only one service worker can be active at a time: only one service worker can win. If you are developing a plugin or theme that includes a service worker, consider relying on this PWA plugin, or at least only use the built-in implementation as a fallback for when the PWA plugin is not available.

Development of this plugin is done on GitHub. Pull requests welcome. Please see issues reported there before going to the plugin forum.

Web App Manifest

As noted in a Google guide:

The web app manifest is a simple JSON file that tells the browser about your web application and how it should behave when 'installed' on the users mobile device or desktop.

The plugin exposes the web app manifest via the REST API at /wp-json/wp/v2/web-app-manifest. A response looks like:

    "name": "WordPress Develop",
    "short_name": "WordPress",
    "description": "Just another WordPress site",
    "lang": "en-US",
    "dir": "ltr",
    "start_url": "",
    "theme_color": "#ffffff",
    "background_color": "#ffffff",
    "display": "minimal-ui",
    "icons": [
            "sizes": "192x192",
            "src": "",
            "type": "image/png"
            "sizes": "512x512",
            "src": "",
            "type": "image/png"

A rel=manifest link to this endpoint is added at wp_head.

The manifest is populated with default values including:

  • name: the site title from get_option('blogname')
  • short_name: truncated site title
  • description: the site tagline from get_option('blogdescription')
  • lang: the site language from get_bloginfo( 'language' )
  • dir: the site language direction from is_rtl()
  • start_url: the home URL from get_home_url()
  • theme_color: a theme's custom background via get_background_color()
  • background_color: also populated with theme's custom background
  • display: minimal-ui is used as the default.
  • icons: the site icon via get_site_icon_url()

There is a web_app_manifest filter which is passed the above array so that plugins and themes can customize the manifest.

See labeled GitHub issues and see WordPress core tracking ticket #43328.

Service Workers

As noted in a Google primer:

Rich offline experiences, periodic background syncs, push notifications—functionality that would normally require a native application—are coming to the web. Service workers provide the technical foundation that all these features rely on.

Only one service worker can be controlling a page at a time. This has prevented themes and plugins from each introducing their own service workers because only one wins. So the first step at adding support for service workers in core is to provide an API for themes and plugins to register scripts and then have them concatenated into a script that is installed as the service worker. There are two such concatenated service worker scripts that are made available: one for the frontend and one for the admin. The frontend service worker is installed under the home('/') scope and the admin service worker is installed under the admin_url('/') scope.

The API is implemented using the same interface as WordPress uses for registering scripts; in fact WP_Service_Worker_Scripts is a subclass of WP_Scripts. The instance of this class is accessible via wp_service_workers()->get_registry(). Instead of using wp_register_script() the service worker scripts are registered using wp_register_service_worker_script(). This function accepts two parameters:

  • $handle: The service worker script handle which can be used to mark the script as a dependency for other scripts.
  • $args: An array of additional service worker script arguments as $key => $value pairs:
    • $src: Required. The URL to the service worker on the local filesystem or a callback function which returns the script to include in the service worker.
    • $deps: An array of service worker script handles that a script depends on.

Note that there is no $ver (version) parameter because browsers do not cache service workers so there is no need to cache bust them.

Service worker scripts should be registered on the wp_front_service_worker and/or wp_admin_service_worker action hooks, depending on whether they should be active for the frontend service worker, the admin service worker, or both of them. The hooks are passed the WP_Service_Worker_Scripts instance, so you can optionally access its register() method directly, which wp_register_service_worker_script() is a simple wrapper of.

Here are some examples:

function register_foo_service_worker_script( $scripts ) {
	// $scripts->register() is the same as wp_register_service_worker_script().
		'foo', // Handle.
			'src'  => plugin_dir_url( __FILE__ ) . 'foo.js', // Source.
			'deps' => array( 'app-shell' ), // Dependency.
// Register for the frontend service worker.
add_action( 'wp_front_service_worker', 'register_foo_service_worker_script' );

function register_bar_service_worker_script( $scripts ) {
			// Use a script render callback instead of a source file.
			'src'  => function() {
				return ' "Hello admin!" );';
			'deps' => array(), // No dependencies (can also be omitted).
// Register for the admin service worker.
add_action( 'wp_admin_service_worker', 'register_bar_service_worker_script' );

function register_baz_service_worker_script( $scripts ) {
	$scripts->register( 'baz', array( 'src' => plugin_dir_url( __FILE__ ) . 'baz.js' ) );
// Register for both the frontend and admin service worker.
add_action( 'wp_front_service_worker', 'register_baz_service_worker_script' );
add_action( 'wp_admin_service_worker', 'register_baz_service_worker_script' );

See labeled GitHub issues and see WordPress core tracking ticket #36995.


The plugin bundles several experimental integrations that are kept separate from the service worker core code. These integrations act as examples and proof-of-concept to achieve certain goals. While all of them are generally applicable and recommended to truly benefit from service workers, they are not crucial for the core API.

All these integrations are hidden behind a feature flag. To enable them, you can add service_worker theme support:

add_theme_support( 'service_worker', true );

Alternatively, you can selectively enable specific integrations by providing an array when adding theme support:

		'wp-site-icon'         => false,
		'wp-custom-logo'       => true,
		'wp-custom-background' => true,
		'wp-fonts'             => true,


Service Workers in the feature plugin are using Workbox to power a higher-level PHP abstraction for themes and plugins to indicate the routes and the caching strategies in a declarative way. Since only one handler can be used per one route then conflicts are also detected and reported in console when using debug mode.

The API abstraction allows registering routes for caching and urls for precaching using the following two functions:

  1. wp_register_service_worker_caching_route(): accepts the following two parameters:
  • $route: Route regular expression, without delimiters.
  • $args: An array of additional route arguments as $key => $value pairs:
    • $strategy: Required. Strategy, can be WP_Service_Worker_Caching_Routes::STRATEGY_STALE_WHILE_REVALIDATE, WP_Service_Worker_Caching_Routes::STRATEGY_CACHE_FIRST, WP_Service_Worker_Caching_Routes::STRATEGY_NETWORK_FIRST, WP_Service_Worker_Caching_Routes::STRATEGY_CACHE_ONLY, WP_Service_Worker_Caching_Routes::STRATEGY_NETWORK_ONLY.
    • $cache_name: Name to use for the cache.
    • $plugins: Array of plugins with configuration. The key of each plugin in the array must match the plugin's name. See
  1. wp_register_service_worker_precaching_route(): accepts the following two parameters:
  • $url: URL to cache.
  • $args: An array of additional route arguments as $key => $value pairs:
    • $revision: Revision, optional.

Examples of using the API:

add_action( 'wp_front_service_worker', function( \WP_Service_Worker_Scripts $scripts ) {
			'strategy'  => WP_Service_Worker_Caching_Routes::STRATEGY_CACHE_FIRST,
			'cacheName' => 'images',
			'plugins'   => array(
				'expiration' => array(
					'maxEntries'    => 60,
					'maxAgeSeconds' => 60 * 60 * 24,
} );
add_action( 'wp_front_service_worker', function( \WP_Service_Worker_Scripts $scripts ) {
			'revision' => get_bloginfo( 'version' ),
} );

If you would like to opt-in to a caching strategy for navigation requests, you can do:

add_filter( 'wp_service_worker_navigation_caching_strategy', function() {
	return WP_Service_Worker_Caching_Routes::STRATEGY_STALE_WHILE_REVALIDATE;
} );

add_filter( 'wp_service_worker_navigation_caching_strategy_args', function( $args ) {
	$args['cacheName'] = 'pages';
	$args['plugins']['expiration']['maxEntries'] = 50;
	return $args;
} );

👉 If you previously added a wp_service_worker_navigation_preload filter to disable navigation preload, you should probably remove it. This was originally needed to work around an issue with ensuring the offline page would work when using a navigation caching strategy, but it is no longer needed and it should be removed improved performance. Disabling navigation preload is only relevant when you are developing an app shell.

Offline / 500 error handling

The feature plugins offers improved offline experience by displaying a custom template when user is offline instead of the default message in browser. Same goes for 500 errors -- a template is displayed together with error details.

Themes can override the default template by using error.php, offline.php, and 500.php in you theme folder. error.php is a general template for both offline and 500 error pages and it is overridden by offline.php and 500.php if they exist.

Note that the templates should use wp_service_worker_error_message_placeholder() for displaying the offline / error messages. Additionally, on the 500 error template the details of the error can be displayed using the function wp_service_worker_error_details_template( $output ).

For development purposes the offline and 500 error templates are visible on the following URLs on your site:


Default value for $output is the following: <details id="error-details"><summary>' . esc_html__( 'More Details', 'pwa' ) . '</summary>{{{error_details_iframe}}}</details> where {{{error_details_iframe}}} will be replaced by the iframe.

In case of using the <iframe> within the template {{{iframe_src}}} and {{{iframe_srcdoc}}} are available as well.

For example this could be done:

    '<details id="error-details"><summary>' . esc_html__( 'More Details', 'pwa' ) . '</summary><iframe style="width:100%" src="{{{iframe_src}}}" data-srcdoc="{{{iframe_srcdoc}}}"></iframe></details>'

Offline Commenting

Another feature improving the offline experience is Offline Commenting implemented leveraging Workbox Background Sync API.

In case of submitting a comment and being offline (failing to fetch) the request is added to a queue and once the browsers "thinks" the connectivity is back then Sync is triggered and all the commenting requests in the queue are replayed. This meas that the comment will be resubmitted once the connection is back.

Available actions and filters

Here is a list of all available actions and filters added by the feature plugin.


  • wp_service_worker_skip_waiting: Filters whether the service worker should update automatically when a new version is available.
    • Has one boolean argument which defaults to true.
  • wp_service_worker_clients_claim: Filters whether the service worker should use clientsClaim() after skipWaiting().
    • Has one boolean argument which defaults to false;
  • wp_service_worker_navigation_preload: Filters whether navigation preload is enabled. Has two arguments:
    • boolean which defaults to true;
    • $current_scope, either 1 (WP_Service_Workers::SCOPE_FRONT) or 2 (WP_Service_Workers::SCOPE_ADMIN);
  • wp_offline_error_precache_entry: Filters what is precached to serve as the offline error response on the frontend.
    • Has one parameter $entry which is an array:
      • $url URL to page that shows the offline error template.
      • $revision Revision for the template. This defaults to the template and stylesheet names, with their respective theme versions.
  • wp_server_error_precache_entry: Filters what is precached to serve as the internal server error response on the frontend.
    • Has one parameter $entry which is an array:
      • $url URL to page that shows the server error template.
      • $revision Revision for the template. This defaults to the template and stylesheet names, with their respective theme versions.
  • wp_service_worker_error_messages: Filters the offline error messages displayed on the offline template by default and in case of offline commenting.
    • Has one argument with array of messages:
      • $default The message to display on the default offline template;
      • $comment The message to display on the offline template in case of commenting;


  • wp_front_service_worker: Fires before serving the frontend service worker, when its scripts should be registered, caching routes established, and assets precached.
    • Has one argument $scripts WP_Service_Worker_Scripts Instance to register service worker behavior with.
  • wp_admin_service_worker: Fires before serving the wp-admin service worker, when its scripts should be registered, caching routes established, and assets precached.
    • Has one argument $scripts WP_Service_Worker_Scripts Instance to register service worker behavior with.
  • wp_default_service_workers: Fires when the WP_Service_Worker_Scripts instance is initialized.
    • Has one argument $scripts WP_Service_Worker_Scripts Instance to register service worker behavior with.


HTTPS is a prerequisite for progressive web apps. A service worker is only able to be installed on sites that are served as HTTPS. For this reason core's support for HTTPS needs to be further improved, continuing the great progress made over the past few years.

At the moment the plugin provides an API to detection of whether a site supports HTTPS. Building on that it's intended that this can then be used to present a user with an opt-in to switch over to HTTPS, which will also then need to include support for rewriting URLs from HTTP to HTTPS. See labeled GitHub issues and see WordPress core tracking ticket #28521.

You can optionally add an HSTS header (HTTP Strict-Transport-Security). This indicates to the browser to only load the site with HTTPS, not HTTP.

 * Adds an HSTS header to the response.
 * @param array $headers The headers to filter.
 * @return array $headers The filtered headers.
add_filter( 'wp_headers', function( $headers ) {
	$headers['Strict-Transport-Security'] = 'max-age=3600'; // Or another max-age.
	return $headers;
} );

This can prevent a case where users initially visit the HTTP version of the site, and are redirected to a malicious site before a redirect to the proper HTTPS version.

The wp_headers filter allows you to add a Strict-Transport-Security header for this.

Please see the documentation for the directives, including the max-age.


For the plugin’s changelog, please see the Releases page on GitHub.

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