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Improving Your Web-Based App With Micro Frontendsby@pterenin
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Improving Your Web-Based App With Micro Frontends

by Pavel TereninFebruary 1st, 2023
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Micro frontends are an architectural approach that focuses on designing the client-side layer of websites and web apps. By breaking down monolithic applications into smaller, more manageable components, this approach allows for better integration of new features and technologies.
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Are you looking for ways to improve the frontend of your web-based app? If so, then micro frontends might be the answer.


Micro frontends is an architectural approach that focuses on designing the client-side layer of websites and web apps. By breaking down monolithic applications into smaller, more manageable components, this approach allows for better integration of new features and technologies as well as improved scalability.


In this blog post, we will explore what micro frontends are, why they are beneficial, how to implement them in your project, and potential uses for this approach.

What is micro frontends


Micro frontend architecture is based on the idea of breaking down a single page application (SPA) into smaller components. Each component, or micro frontend, has its own codebase and can be developed independently from other parts of the SPA. By using this approach, it becomes easier to integrate new features, technologies and tools without affecting the rest of the application. This is especially useful when introducing more complex technologies like AI, machine learning and natural language processing as each component can be independently tested and deployed.


With micro frontend architecture, individual components can be scaled up or down depending on the load they are experiencing. This means that if certain components of the application become more popular than others they can be scaled up while those that are less popular can be scaled down, resulting in a better resource utilization overall.


Finally, micro frontend architecture makes it easier to maintain the codebase as each component has its own version control system and developers don’t need to worry about breaking other components when making changes. This approach helps to ensure that all components are up-to-date and working as expected.


Let's take a closer look at how micro frontends work by looking at the example of an Instagram page with AI-generated images:



With micro frontends, this single web page can be broken down into multiple sections, each with its own dedicated team. For instance, the profile page will consist of sections such as a Profile Info section, Photos and Videos section, Friends and Followers section, and so on. Each team is responsible for developing and maintaining their respective sections independently, while still adhering to overall design guidelines set by the product team.


As a result, developers can make changes to their sections independently and quickly deploy them, without waiting for the entire page to be re-built. This is helpful in cases where only certain parts of the web page need changing, such as fixing bugs or adding new features. It also helps to keep the code more organized and manageable, as each team is responsible for their own section.


Monolithic architecture vs microservices and micro frontends


When it comes to building a web application, the two major approaches - monolithic architecture and microservices and micro frontends - can be compared to the task of moving from one place to another. Packing all your stuff in a single large box will make the process much simpler and faster, but unpacking it at the destination might become quite a challenge. On the other hand, sorting your items into multiple smaller boxes with labels is more time-consuming, but it will make unpacking a lot easier.



The same logic applies to web development, in which monolithic architecture is all about having everything bundled together, while microservices and micro frontends divide the codebase into distinct units, where each component can be built, deployed, and managed independently.


Monolithic architecture

Monolithic architecture is an approach to software development in which all components of an application are built and deployed as a single unit. This type of architecture has been around for years and is still popular today, due to its simplicity and stability. It provides developers with a cost-effective way to develop large-scale applications quickly without having to build complex infrastructures.


Advantages of Monolithic architecture\

There are many advantages to using Monolithic architecture in software development, as it can help reduce costs and time spent developing applications. Here are some of the top benefits:


  • Simpler to Develop: By having all components of an application built and deployed together, developers can focus on building features quickly without having to worry about integrating multiple different components. It also makes it easier for teams of developers to collaborate, as all the code is in one place.


  • Easy Maintenance (for small applications): Because all components of the application are in one place, it makes it easier for developers to maintain and update existing applications. It also helps keep costs down by reducing the need for additional infrastructure.


  • Secure: When all components built and deployed together, there are fewer points of failure. Hence, the app’s security improves,as any vulnerabilities in the application can be more easily identified and fixed.


Monolithic architecture offers many advantages to developers when it comes to building large-scale applications quickly and cost-effectively. With its simplicity and scalability, it is a great choice for many companies looking to develop applications efficiently and securely.


Disadvantages of monolithic architecture:\

  • Difficult to Scale: One of the main issues with monolithic architectures is that they can be difficult to scale. If an application needs more resources, it must be completely rewritten and redeployed in order to accommodate them. This makes it difficult for developers to respond quickly to changing demands.


  • Troubleshooting and Debugging: Since all components of a monolithic application are combined into one large package, it can be difficult for developers to pinpoint the source of any bugs or issues.Debugging and troubleshooting will be much more time-consuming and complex than with microservice architectures.


  • Fragile Deployment: Monolithic architectures are typically more fragile and prone to breaking than microservices. If any of the components in the monolithic application fail, then the entire application can be affected. This makes it difficult to deploy and maintain applications with a high degree of reliability.


  • Lack of Flexibility: Monolithic applications are typically less flexible than microservice architectures since they are more limited in terms of the functionality they can provide. It’s difficult to add new features or services without having to make radical changes to the application’s codebase.


Monolithic architectures have long been a source of challenges for software developers, as the rigid structure and codebase have made it difficult to create dynamic and responsive applications. Such architectures often require extensive reworking when trying to incorporate new features or accommodate changes in user needs. Microservices and micro frontends were developed as solutions to these issues, allowing developers to build more agile and efficient applications.


Microservice architecture

In microservice architecture, an application is broken down into multiple smaller components that are loosely coupled and independently deployable, each running in their own process. Communication between these components is handled through API calls, usually via a simple REST protocol or an asynchronous messaging system like Kafka that supports events and publish/subscribe communication models. The frontend then interacts with the backend services through an API gateway or a “backend for frontend” (BFF) service.


The advantages of microservices can be seen in the way teams work and how they manage their codebases, CI/CD pipelines, and DevOps practices. By splitting a monolithic backend team into multiple smaller teams where each focuses on one specific feature or aspect of the application (e.g., product service, search service, payment service), developers are able to achieve better security, scalability, and flexibility.


Microservices are an excellent choice for building application backends, offering greater flexibility and independence than traditional monolithic architectures. However, when implementing a microservice architecture, it is important to remember that the frontend will still likely be implemented as a single monolith.


Micro frontends architecture

Micro frontends represent an evolution in web application architecture, providing an intuitive way to divide up tasks among teams and allowing them to develop their projects independently. This type of architecture is based on the same principles as microservices, focusing on loosely coupled components that are taken care of by different teams.


The main difference between microservices and micro frontends is that teams are grouped around a customer need or use case and have their own, clearly defined mission. In addition, teams are vertically sliced, meaning they develop their features from the user interface to the databases, and cross-functional as members are expected to share knowledge with the rest of the team.


Finally, each team can choose the technology stack that fits best for their part of the work, allowing for diverse and more efficient development. With the growing popularity of micro frontends, developers are able to create high-quality applications quickly and efficiently.\

Thus, micro frontends provide an excellent way to split up the development process into smaller tasks and achieve greater results in a shorter time frame. It is quickly becoming the preferred option for web application developers who want to create powerful applications with optimal efficiency.


Advantages of Micro Frontends Architecture:


  • Improved scalability: By breaking down applications into independent services, micro frontends architecture enables developers to quickly scale and update parts of an application without having to modify the entire system.


  • Increased productivity: Micro frontends allow for faster development as teams can easily develop and deploy individual components independently, which leads to improved collaboration between team members.


  • Faster deployment: By being able to deploy micro frontends independently, development teams can quickly move applications from development to production in a fraction of the time it would take when using a monolithic architecture.


  • Improved availability: If a particular service fails, other services remain unaffected and can continue to operate. Increased resilience makes the system more reliable and better able to handle unexpected events.


  • Improved fault isolation: Due to their modular nature, micro frontends are easier to diagnose and fix in case of errors or failures. Developers can quickly identify which service is causing an issue and resolve it without having to debug the entire application.


  • Easier maintenance (especially for large applications): Micro frontends can be updated, maintained and replaced independently of other services. This makes It’s easier to continuously improve applications over time without impacting existing features.


Overall, micro frontends architecture has many advantages that make it a great choice for developing complex applications.


How to implement micro frontends architecture in your project


To implement micro front-end architecture, developers should start by breaking down the user interface into smaller, independent components. Each component should have a single responsibility that can be developed and maintained independently from other components. For example, instead of having one large page with multiple features, it might be split up into separate components for a header, footer, navigation menu and content area. The components should be built using the same technology stack in order for them to work together seamlessly.


Next, developers need to decide how the components will communicate with each other. This can be done using an event-driven architecture, where each component publishes and subscribes to events that communicate state changes. Alternatively, an API-based approach can be used in which components call APIs to fetch the information they need from other components.


Once the architecture is designed, developers should build a framework that will handle loading and rendering the components on the page. This could involve using a library like React or Angular, or creating a custom solution that works with the existing technology stack. The framework should also be responsible for routing and managing the state of the application.


Finally, developers need to consider how to deploy the components so that they can be tested and released independently from one another. This could involve using a tool such as Kubernetes, which allows teams to create isolated environments for each component. Alternatively, a microservices architecture could be used in which each component is deployed as an individual service.

When it’s a good idea to use Micro frontends

Micro frontends are a great solution for large, complex web applications. When a website or application has a lot of features and functionality, it can become difficult to manage if all the code is kept in one place. By splitting up the code into smaller chunks, each feature or page can be managed independently by different teams. This makes it much easier to scale and develop each feature, as well as create a better user experience overall. Micro frontends also allow for more efficient debugging, testing, and deployment of code, which can help reduce the risk of errors or bugs. Ultimately, micro frontends are a great way to manage complex web applications and keep them performing optimally.

When it’s not that good idea to use Micro Frontends


  • When you are looking for a quick solution without investing too much time and effort, micro frontends may not be the right choice.

  • If your team lacks the necessary experience in designing and developing micro frontends, it is best to not take this route.

  • Additionally, if you are looking for a unified user interface with consistent design elements across different parts of your app, micro frontends may not be the best fit as they typically involve a lot of customization.


  • It is also important to consider whether you have the resources to maintain multiple frontend systems.

  • Finally, if your application requires real-time data updates across different parts of your system, micro frontends may not be the best way to go due to the complexity around synchronization.


Taking all of these factors into account can help you make an informed decision about whether micro frontends are a good idea for your project.

Conclusion


Micro frontends offer organizations a powerful way to break down monolithic applications and create more flexible, collaborative development environments with smaller teams. With micro frontend architectures, companies can reduce complexity in their application structure while still maintaining quality control over individual components. With improved scalability and agility, businesses can keep up with ever-evolving customer needs as well as stay competitive within different industries.