Modern web apps tend to have complex, feature-heavy frontends, which can pose many challenges when it comes to scalability. That has led to the increasing popularity of micro-frontends, which is a design pattern intended to reduce frontend weight and support faster, more agile applications.
Scalability is essential for modern apps. With scalable infrastructure, businesses can enjoy increased efficiency and quality, which contributes to a better reputation and a sharp competitive edge.
When it comes to achieving scalability within a web app, there are two options: serverless architecture and micro-frontends. Together, serverless architecture and micro-frontends could solve scalability challenges.
So, let's dive into how they work, the issues they seek to address, and how serverless could benefit your next development project.
Serverless architecture is a development approach native to the cloud, where resources are allocated on-demand, ensuring that an application never hits or exceeds operating limits.
This allows it to theoretically grow without constraints and accept endless traffic, opening the doors to immense scalability.
Meanwhile, micro-frontends take the concept and promises of microservices and apply them to frontend architecture. Just like microservices, these frontends are considered highly flexible and are regarded for excellent scalability and speedy development.
When scaling an application, the focus tends to be on the backend, which needs to be scaled to support a growing user base.
In that instance, the priorities include reducing latency, sustaining a higher load, and managing computing costs without sacrificing performance for the end-user. However, while all this thought goes into scaling up the backend, most teams overlook the frontend.
Oftentimes, the extent of frontend app scaling is a CDN to deliver static assets, but that's not enough.
Applications are becoming more frontend heavy for multiple reasons, but especially because more functionality is being pushed to the user interface.
That's in part because the end-user computer is growing more powerful, and less expensive, every day. However, pushing functionality to the frontend doesn't solve the weight problem — it just relocates it.
To work at scale, application development teams need to take a more efficient approach to create frontend applications.
This is where micro-frontends come into play.
If you're aware of the microservices concept, where a big monolithic app is broken down into individual components that can be deployed and maintained on their own, then you'll be quick to grasp the micro-frontends concept.
The benefits of micro-frontends are plentiful, which is to be expected given how closely the concept relates to microservices. These benefits include independent releases, independent teams, incremental upgrades, and decoupled codebases that greatly simplify development and maintenance.
Of course, micro-frontends are not without hurdles. One of the key problems that a team pursuing this must solve is code reusability.
On its own, code reusability is often overrated, but establishing a standard is a must-do for a team considering micro-frontends.
A duplicate-first strategy might be a good solution, since it allows for faster initial execution, but it's important to plan for the long term.
Another problem to consider is the impact of micro-frontends on application loading performance. You can always mitigate this impact, but that takes concerted effort. Likewise, they can create inconsistency in design because they allow several people to work on the app.
This hurdle can also be mitigated, but you need to plan so you can address issues up-front before they become problems, or you'll end up wasting resources.
Ultimately, micro-frontends aren't for everyone, just like microservices. Micro-frontends can add a great deal of overhead that you might not be ready for.
But with that said, they can be a good fit if you have distributed, self-contained teams, you're looking to bridge frameworks on the frontend of your apps, or your dev teams are experienced with microservices and they're looking to take it a step further.
Serverless architecture brings the flexibility and scalability that any organization considering micro-frontends could benefit from.
Nevertheless, many companies don't know where to start when it comes to taking micro-frontends into serverless architecture. In reality, the concept is straightforward.
Most teams will use a separate container or bucket to host each micro-frontend, which supports organized development and helps you set appropriate permissions for various objects.
When you update a micro-frontend, you should also use a new bucket to hold the new version, allowing you to easily go back to a previous version, if needed.
Beyond that, your specific requirements will determine how you use serverless architecture to support your micro-frontends.
At the end of the day, making the switch holds plenty of potentials, but the question is whether your organization is prepared to deal with the associated complexities and challenges.
Just like adopting microservices requires a great deal of planning, making the move to micro-frontends is going to entail sitting down with stakeholders, discussing needs, and planning a strategic approach to avoid pitfalls and costly mistakes.
If you want to streamline your adoption process, having an expert by your side is the best way forward.
Adservio continues to help countless companies achieve scalability and resilience with the use of microservices, micro-frontends, and other advanced approaches to modern development.
If you're interested in learning more about how our team of professionals can help your organization thrive, reach out to Adservio to learn more.