The dConstruct Audio Archive works offline

Jeremy Keith
Nov 2, 2017 · 3 min read
Image for post
Image for post

The dConstruct conference is as old as Clearleft itself. We put on the first event back in 2005, the year of our founding. The last dConstruct was in 2015. It had a good run.

I’m really proud of the three years I ran the show — 2012, 2013, and 2014 — and I have great memories from each event. I’m inordinately pleased that the individual websites are still online after all these years. I’m equally pleased with the dConstruct audio archive that we put online in 2012. Now that the event itself is no longer running, it truly is an archive — a treasury of voices from the past.

I think that these kinds of online archives are eminently suitable for some offline design. So I’ve added a service worker script to the dConstruct archive.

To start with, there’s the no-brainer: as soon as someone hits the website, pre-cache static assets like CSS, JavaScript, the logo, and icon images. Now subsequent page loads will be quicker — those assets are taken straight from the cache.

But what about the individual pages? For something like Resilient Web Design — another site that won’t be updated — I pre-cache everything. I could do that with the dConstruct archive. All of the pages with all of the images add up to less than two megabytes; the entire site weighs less than a single page on Wired.com or The Verge.

In the end, I decided to go with a cache-as-you-go strategy. Every time a page or an image is fetched from the network, it is immediately put in a cache. The next time that page or image is requested, the file is served from that cache instead of the network.

Here’s the logic for fetch requests:

  1. First, look to see if the file is in a cache. If it is, great! Serve that.
  2. If the file isn’t in a cache, make a network request and serve the response …but put a copy of a file in the cache.
  3. The next time that file is requested, go to step one.

That caching strategy works great for pages, images, and other assets. But there’s one kind of file on the dConstruct archive that’s a bit different: the audio files. They can be fairly big, so I don’t want to cache those unless the user specifically requests it.

If you end up on the page for a particular talk, and your browser supports service workers, you’ll get an additional UI element in the list of options: a toggle to “save offline” (under the hood, it’s a checkbox). If you activate that option, then the audio file gets put into a cache.

Now if you lose your network connection while browsing the site, you’ll get a custom offline page with the option to listen to any audio files you saved for offline listening. You’ll also see this collection of talks on the homepage, regardless of whether you’ve got an internet connection or not.

So if you’ve got a long plane journey ahead of you, have a browse around the dConstruct archive and select some talks for your offline listening pleasure.

Or just enjoy the speediness of browsing the site.

Turning another website into a Progressive Web App.
Turning another website into a Progressive Web App.

This was originally posted on my own site.

Clear Thinking

Opinions and learnings from the team at Clearleft.

Jeremy Keith

Written by

A web developer and author living and working in Brighton, England.

Clear Thinking

Since 2005 our purpose has been to advance the practice of design to transform organisations and people’s lives for the better.

Jeremy Keith

Written by

A web developer and author living and working in Brighton, England.

Clear Thinking

Since 2005 our purpose has been to advance the practice of design to transform organisations and people’s lives for the better.

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