App Manifest Files in Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)

The web app manifest is a JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) file that provides essential metadata about a Progressive Web App (PWA). This file allows browsers and operating systems to understand how the app should be presented to the user, including details such as its name, icons, theme colors, and display modes. In this discussion, we’ll explore the significance of app manifest files and the key elements they contain.

Understanding the Web App Manifest:

**1. *File Format:*

  • The web app manifest is a simple JSON file named manifest.json. It should be located at the root of the web application.

**2. *Purpose:*

  • The primary purpose of the manifest file is to provide metadata that helps browsers and platforms present the web app consistently across different devices.

**3. *Manifest Link:*

  • The manifest is linked in the HTML of the web page using the <link> tag in the <head> section. For example:
   <link rel="manifest" href="/manifest.json" />

Key Elements of the Web App Manifest:

**1. *name:*

  • Specifies the name of the app as it should be displayed to the user.
   "name": "My Progressive Web App"

**2. *short_name:*

  • Provides a shorter version of the app name, often used where space is limited, such as on the home screen.
   "short_name": "My PWA"

**3. *description:*

  • Offers a brief description of the app, providing users with additional context.
   "description": "An amazing Progressive Web App that does..."

**4. *icons:*

  • Specifies an array of icons in various sizes for different contexts. Icons are displayed on the home screen, app launcher, and splash screen.
   "icons": [
       "src": "/icon-192x192.png",
       "sizes": "192x192",
       "type": "image/png"
       "src": "/icon-512x512.png",
       "sizes": "512x512",
       "type": "image/png"

**5. *start_url:*

  • Defines the URL where the app should start when launched, providing a starting point for the user’s journey.
   "start_url": "/index.html"

**6. *background_color:*

  • Specifies the background color of the app’s splash screen.
   "background_color": "#ffffff"

**7. *theme_color:*

  • Sets the theme color for the browser’s UI elements when the app is launched.
   "theme_color": "#4285f4"

**8. *display:*

  • Determines how the app should be displayed. Options include “fullscreen,” “standalone,” “minimal-ui,” and “browser.”
   "display": "standalone"

**9. *scope:*

  • Specifies the navigation scope of the service worker for the app. It defines which URLs fall under the service worker’s control.
   "scope": "/"

**10. *orientation:*

  • Indicates the default orientation of the web app. Options include “any,” “natural,” “portrait,” “portrait-primary,” “portrait-secondary,” “landscape,” “landscape-primary,” and “landscape-secondary.”
   "orientation": "any"

Benefits of the Web App Manifest:

  1. Consistent Branding:
  • Ensures consistent branding by specifying the app’s name, icons, and colors across different platforms.
  1. Improved User Experience:
  • Enhances the user experience by providing details for splash screens, home screen icons, and launch behaviors.
  1. Easy Installation:
  • Facilitates easy installation on the user’s home screen or app launcher, creating a more app-like experience.
  1. SEO and Discoverability:
  • Contributes to SEO efforts and enhances discoverability by providing information about the app to search engines.
  1. Customization:
  • Allows developers to customize how the app appears and behaves in different contexts.


The web app manifest file is a crucial component of Progressive Web Apps, serving as a blueprint for how the app should be presented and interacted with across various platforms. By providing key metadata, developers can ensure a consistent and user-friendly experience, making PWAs more discoverable, installable, and visually aligned with the brand. As the web continues to evolve, the web app manifest plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of user interactions on the web.