How to create a new PWA-enabled VueJs app on Ubuntu 20.04 from scratch

This should be a minimal guide to get you started with a VueJs PWA (Progressive Web App) from scratch. To learn more about PWA, you may listen to the PWA episode on the Coding Blocks podcast and read A roundup of infos about the new version of Vue.js on Made With VueJs

Node.js and npm

Node, the JavaScript runtime, and its package manager, npm, are not installed by default on Ubuntu 20.04. You can get them via apt, the Advanced Package Tool used by Ubuntu:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install nodejs
node -v
sudo apt install npm 
npm -v

Note: Node is also available on the snapcraft store. if you like to get it from there

Vue/Vue CLI

Vue, Version 3, has still the “@next” distribution tag (at the time being, May 2021), so you need to find the VueJs V3 documentation here. While not recommended for absolute beginners, the Vue CLI (Vue Command Line Interface) is the simplest way to create a new project setup:

# Globally install Vue CLI
sudo npm install -global @vue/cli
# Create a new project, using Vue CLI's scaffolding:
vue create my-project
# Choose the "Manually select features" option
# Select:
# - Choose Vue Version (Select 3)
# - Typescript 
# - PWA
# - ...others as you like

First start

After the project is created, run it for the first time:

cd my-project
npm run serve

Then browse to http://localhost:8080/ You will see a simple summary page, reporting the state of your app. When using the Google Chrome browser, you can use the built-in DevTools (F12) to see detailed information about the created web app. The Lighthouse tab even shows a report with a PWA score.

VueJs home page of a newly created project
VueJs app home page of a newly created project, with opened development toos (F12) and the Lighthous tab with the Progressive Web App report opened.

Make it installable (from localhost)

To actually have an installable PWA, you must serve the created distribution, for example with the serve npm module, as described in the Deployment section of the CLI documentation.

# build into the dist folder
npm run build
# install the serve npm module globally (possibly requires admin privileges)
npm install -global serve
# serve the app's dist folder as static files 
serve -s dist
VueJs PWA with installation window
VueJs PWA with the installation dialog

You can now pin the PWA to the Ubuntu favourites bar, and load it from there, even when the local web server is not running anymore:

Starting VueJs PWA from Ubuntus Favourites launch bar
Starting VueJs PWA from Ubuntu’s Favourites launch bar

Using this, I have created SunScreen as an actual VueJs PWA.

Material Design (not shown publicly with hide-this)

Because Vue-Material does not support Vue 3.0 at the time of writing, I use Vue 2.0 instead.

# use vue material https://vuematerial.io/getting-started
npm install vue-material --save

# Then follow the guide at https://vuematerial.io/getting-started/

# Since vue-material does not property support type script yet, consider this change: https://github.com/vuematerial/vue-material/issues/530#issuecomment-280796425
# Set "noImplicitAny": false in tsconfig.json

npm run serve

Since vue-material does not properly support type script yet, you will get a compiler error of
Could not find a declaration file for module 'vue-material'. Peter Jausovec has an excellent post about this.

To solve this, you have two options:

  • Set "noImplicitAny": false in tsconfig.json (But this will disable it in your whole project)
  • Create a *.d.ts file with content declare module 'vue-material';. I have mine called vue-material.d.ts and put it along the existing .d.ts files in the views folder.

Optionally recommended Tools and Visual Studio Code Extensions

  • Material Icon Theme (Material Design Icons for Visual Studio Code) by Philipp Kief
  • Debugger for Chrome (msjsdiag.debugger-for-chrome) by Microsoft
  • Prettier – Code formatter (esbenp.prettier-vscode)
  • Vetur (octref.vetur)

For the workspace, I use the following settings

"settings": {
    "prettier.singleQuote": true,
    "prettier.tabWidth": 4,
    "editor.formatOnSave": true
}

Also, get the Devtools extension for your browser of choice.