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Lab: Caching Files with Service Worker

Concepts: Caching Files with Service Worker


This lab covers the basics of caching files with the service worker. The technologies involved are the Cache API and the Service Worker API. See the Caching files with the service worker doc for a full tutorial on the Cache API. See Introduction to Service Worker and Lab: Scripting the service worker for more information on service workers.

What you will learn

  • How to use the Cache API to access and manipulate data in the cache
  • How to cache the application shell and offline pages
  • How to intercept network requests and respond with resources in the cache
  • How to remove unused caches on service worker activation

What you should know

  • Basic JavaScript and HTML
  • Familiarity with the concept and basic syntax of ES2015 Promises

What you will need

1. Get set up

If you have not downloaded the repository, installed Node, and started a local server, follow the instructions in Setting up the labs.

Open your browser and navigate to localhost:8080/cache-api-lab/app.

If you have a text editor that lets you open a project, open the cache-api-lab/app folder. This will make it easier to stay organized. Otherwise, open the folder in your computer's file system. The app folder is where you will be building the lab.

This folder contains:

  • images folder contains sample images, each with several versions at different resolutions
  • pages folder contains sample pages and a custom offline page
  • style folder contains the app's cascading stylesheet
  • test folder contains QUnit tests
  • index.html is the main HTML page for our sample site/application
  • service-worker.js is the service worker file where we set up the interactions with the cache

2. Cache the application shell

Cache the application shell in the "install" event handler in the service worker.

Replace TODO 2 in serviceworker.js with the following code:


var filesToCache = [


var staticCacheName = 'pages-cache-v1';

self.addEventListener('install', function(event) {
  console.log('Attempting to install service worker and cache static assets');
    .then(function(cache) {
      return cache.addAll(filesToCache);

Save the code and reload the page in the browser. Update the service worker and then open the cache storage in the browser. You should see the files appear in the table. You may need to refresh the page again for the changes to appear.

Open the first QUnit test page, app/test/test1.html, in another browser tab.

This page contains several tests for testing our app at each stage of the codelab. Passed tests are blue and failed tests are red. At this point, your app should pass the first two tests. These check that the cache exists and that it contains the app shell.

Caution: Close the test page when you're finished with it, otherwise you won't be able to activate the updated service worker in the next sections. See the Introduction to service worker text for an explanation.


We first define the files to cache and assign them the to the filesToCache variable. These files make up the "application shell" (the static HTML,CSS, and image files that give your app a unified look and feel). We also assign a cache name to a variable so that updating the cache name (and by extension the cache version) happens in one place.

In the install event handler we create the cache with and use the addAll method to add the files to the cache. We wrap this in event.waitUntil to extend the lifetime of the event until all of the files are added to the cache and addAll resolves successfully.

For more information

3. Serve files from the cache

Now that we have the files cached, we can intercept requests for those files from the network and respond with the files from the cache.

Replace TODO 3 in service-worker.js with the following:


self.addEventListener('fetch', function(event) {
  console.log('Fetch event for ', event.request.url);
    caches.match(event.request).then(function(response) {
      if (response) {
        console.log('Found ', event.request.url, ' in cache');
        return response;
      console.log('Network request for ', event.request.url);
      return fetch(event.request)

      // TODO 4 - Add fetched files to the cache

    }).catch(function(error) {

      // TODO 6 - Respond with custom offline page


Save the code and update the service worker in the browser (make sure you have closed the test.html page). Refresh the page to see the network requests being logged to the console. Now take the app offline and refresh the page. The page should load normally!


The fetch event listener intercepts all requests. We use event.respondWith to create a custom response to the request. Here we are using the Cache falling back to network strategy: we first check the cache for the requested resource (with caches.match) and then, if that fails, we send the request to the network.

For more information

4. Add network responses to the cache

We can add files to the cache as they are requested.

Replace TODO 4 in the fetch event handler with the code to add the files returned from the fetch to the cache:


.then(function(response) {

  // TODO 5 - Respond with custom 404 page

  return {
    if (event.request.url.indexOf('test') < 0) {
      cache.put(event.request.url, response.clone());
    return response;

Save the code. Take the app back online and update the service worker. Visit at least one of the links on the homepage, then take the app offline again. Now if you revisit the pages they should load normally! Try navigating to some pages you haven't visited before.

Take the app back online and open app/test/test1.html in a new tab. Your app should now pass the third test that checks whether network responses are being added to the cache. Remember to close the test page when you're done.


Here we are taking the responses returned from the network requests and putting them into the cache.

We need to pass a clone of the response to cache.put, because the response can only be read once. See Jake Archibald's What happens when you read a response article for an explanation.

We have wrapped the code to cache the response in an if statement to ensure we are not caching our test page.

For more information

5. Respond with custom 404 page

Below TODO 5 in service-worker.js, write the code to respond with the 404.html page from the cache if the response status is 404. You can check the response status with response.status.

To test your code, save what you've written and then update the service worker in the browser. Click the Non-existent file link to request a resource that doesn't exist.


Network response errors do not throw an error in the fetch promise. Instead, fetch returns the response object containing the error code of the network error. This means we handle network errors in a .then instead of a .catch. However, if the fetch cannot reach the network (user is offline) an error is thrown in the promise and the .catch executes.

For more information

Solution code

The solution code can be found in the 05-404-page directory.

6. Respond with custom offline page

Below TODO 6 in the .catch in service-worker.js, write the code to respond with the offline.html page from the cache. The catch will trigger if the fetch to the network fails.

To test your code, save what you've written and then update the service worker in the browser. Take the app offline and navigate to a page you haven't visited before to see the custom offline page.


If fetch cannot reach the network, it throws an error and sends it to a .catch.

Solution code

The solution code can be found in the 06-offline-page directory.

7. Delete outdated caches

We can get rid of unused caches in the service worker "activate" event.

Replace TODO 7 in service-worker.js with the following code:


self.addEventListener('activate', function(event) {
  console.log('Activating new service worker...');

  var cacheWhitelist = [staticCacheName];

    caches.keys().then(function(cacheNames) {
      return Promise.all( {
          if (cacheWhitelist.indexOf(cacheName) === -1) {
            return caches.delete(cacheName);

Try changing the name of the cache to "pages-cache-v2":


var staticCacheName = 'pages-cache-v2';

Save the code and update the service worker in the browser. Inspect the cache storage in your browser. You should see just the new cache. The old cache, pages-cache-v1, has been removed.

Open app/test/test2.html in a new browser tab. The test checks whether pages-cache-v1 has been deleted and that pages-cache-v2 has been created.


We delete old caches in the activate event to make sure that we aren't deleting caches before the new service worker has taken over the page. We create an array of caches that are currently in use and delete all other caches.

For more information

Solution code

The solution code can be found in the solution directory.


You have learned how to use the Cache API in the service worker.

What we've covered

You have learned the basics of using the Cache API in the service worker. We have covered caching the application shell, intercepting network requests and responding with items from the cache, adding resources to the cache as they are requested, responding to network errors with a custom offline page, and deleting unused caches.


Learn more about caching and the Cache API

Learn more about using service workers