Updated: Dec 22, 2021
Its been just over a year since my colleague Vivek Bhatt published his post on “What is Microsoft Project Nucleus” where he highlights the core technology focus on performance improvement on SharePoint lists; Microsoft is now pleased to announce that they have reached general availability for Microsoft Lists: Fast and offline.
The ambition for Microsoft is to deliver a consistent fast user experience for users accessing Microsoft 365 web applications. This means that the limitations of networks and devices are
taken out of the equation! Even when there is no internet connection.
So how do they do this you ask?
By combining Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) and the continuous work that Microsoft is doing in Project Nucleus. PWAs provide open web technologies access for cross-platform interoperability.
In short PWAs are web applications that use web APIs and modern technologies to make the web app behave similar to a native application on any platform or operating system. They can be installed on your phone or PC, and they can also be distributed through App Stores.
As you all know, apps installed on your phone take Instagram as an example is working fine offline for browsing cached pictures, the same way PWAs are just like other apps on Windows. They can be added to the Start Menu, pinned to the Taskbar, work with files, run on user login, and more. When you add the web experience to load and function offline – including support for editing – Microsoft had to look beyond PWAs.
“a new client-side component to supercharge existing web apps” – Microsoft
Project Nucleus starts with Microsoft Lists where users can install Microsoft Lists as a PWA. This option is available in your browser from the Lists-app in Microsoft 365.
The Microsoft Lists PWA is leveraging local storage for fast data retrieval, even when you are working offline. Any changes you do to the list will be synced once you are online again.
It also enables users to work with large and complex datasets made available through the web app.
To support the fast and offline functionality Microsoft is delivering a new component Microsoft.SharePoint.exe – This component links to the PWA by making a cache of web app data on the local machine. It will then act as a local web server, pulling and pushing data to and from the local cache instead of always retrieving it from the cloud. This is similar to the OneDrive functionality that we have grown used to by now, enabling offline editing and changes to the list will be stored in the local cache first and pushed to the cloud once a connection is detected.
We are looking forward to new releases from Project Nucleus and the improved PWAs that will arrive in a tenant near you in the future!