Micro Frontends: Microservices For Frontend Architecture?

Someone said it right,

A user interface is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it’s not that good.

What we present to the users matters more than the internal code structure. The front-end of any product, website, or app is the face of the company, and it must deliver a lasting impact on the users.

Front-end development is extremely versatile and full of libraries, frameworks, packages, and tools. Thanks to the concepts like microservice architecture and agile development approach, building a complex app faster seems easier than the previous time to deliver beyond expectations.

Microservice architecture – a popular variant of the Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) for back-end is now hitting the headlines with another dimension, i.e., Micro front-ends.

In this post, we will explore what micro front-ends are and how developers around the world favor it, along with its market presence and limitations.

To understand what micro front-ends is, you must aware of microservices. It is because a micro front-end is a microservice-like approach to front-end.

Microservices Is Not Only For Back-end: Introduction To Micro Frontends

Microservice is setting trends and making it easier for organizations to build large, enterprise-grade apps faster and in a more manageable way.

For those who are unaware of microservices, we have written a bunch of useful articles to understand Microservices in detail.

What Is Microservices? Explained In 200 Words

Basic & Essential Components To Leverage Microservices Architecture

Microservice Architecture – Is It Right for Your Enterprise Software Development?

Microservices is a software development pattern or style that allows developers to split up entire development architecture into independent, small, and functional services (units).

It is closely associated with the back-end part and very helpful architecture for modern apps and cross-functional teams. It also allows developers to choose independent and most suitable technologies for tasks without worrying about any dependencies and deployments.

It is one such revolutionary concept that has redefined the development of enterprise apps.

Now, this same principle – splitting up whole architecture into smaller, functional parts is applicable to the front-end development, and it is known as micro front-end.

What Is Micro Frontend Architecture?

The micro front end is an architectural pattern for front-ends, allowing breaking of the whole front-end into independently, deliverable, deployable, smaller front-end apps. Then, these apps are composed together to build the desired front-end of an application.

It is very similar to Microservices and allows enterprises to manage cross-team collaborations. It is considered as one of the useful techniques to reduce the complexity of large and modern web development.

One significant difference here is Microservices focuses on the de-coupling of back-end services while in micro-front-end, more importance is given to aggregation of the micro applications.

Micro Frontends Is Microservice-Like Approach To Front-End Development

A front-end is taking the front seat.

This is because,

  • Rise of JavaScript technologies played a major role in the increased importance of front-end
  • SPAs and PWAs are the popular approaches to modern web development and they majorly rely on the front-end (front-end is becoming capable of performing several back-end tasks)

Over time, the role of the front-end has changed. The front-end is given the highest importance to attract users with design, architecture, speed, and execution – effectively and efficiently. While back-end of any app got a makeover with architectural concepts like microservices, front-end is still following the same architecture – monolithic where everything is unified, composed all in one piece.

What’s The Problem With Monolithic Style in Front-end?

Here are some points worth your attention.

  • A monolithic style for front-end in modern web app development results in performance issue, affects speed and lacks clarity
  • In the time of agile, it seems like the only back-end is able to follow agile principles as code of front-end is monolith (developing system as a whole)
  • Scalability is a bigger issue with front-end given that the other parts of the applications are built with microservices architecture

There is one answer to all these problems, micro front-end.

Key Benefits Of Micro FrontEnd:

  • More manageable, independent, and maintainable code
  • Teams can easily integrate, innovate, and iterate
  • Separation of concerns gives more clarity
  • Easily scalable and separately deployable chunks
  • Allows making changes (write, rewrite, update, improve) in an incremental manner
  • Develop and deploy faster with great accuracy

Characteristics Of Micro Frontends:

  • Maintainable Codebases

Each micro front end is a smaller chunk of code having a specific purpose to accomplish. This makes it easier for the developers to build, test, and deploy independently.

These decoupled codebases can also result in inappropriate coupling and complexities between components in some situations. It also mandates teams to look upon data and events flows between different parts of the application.

  • Incremental Upgrade And Modern Tech Stack

It allows flexibility to choose and manage the individual part of the application. If one or several parts of the applications require upgrade or modification, there isn’t any need to stop the entire app and upgrade everything together. The ability to upgrade and take a separate decision for a particular micro front-end gives a new approach to front-end which was not possible before.

The one more point is we now have modern technologies and diverse tech stack for front-end. The incremental upgrade allows experimenting with the newest technology that is suitable for the particular part without worrying about an interruption in customer experience.

  • Migrate Legacy Front-end To New

A micro frontend is the best solution to migrate legacy codebase to the new environment. It also comes with the risk associated with dependencies, migration and technical challenges. In such environments, issues need to be solved quickly and integration requires your greater attention. But, gradually, piece-by-piece you can go ahead.

  • Fully Independent Teams

As it allows independent development and deployment, the organization can have autonomous teams that are working on a different part (can choose from the idea, execution, and deployment). They share a common vision among the team and are completely focused on delivering beyond what asked for. It further enhances collaboration between teams, and each team can have full ownership of everything they need to deliver to the end customers.

There are various approaches to implement micro front-end in your application. It covers how best an application manages micro front-end by applying different techniques right from centralized routing to cross-application communication.

Every coin has two sides; likewise, there are several limitations of micro front-end architecture.

These are:

  • Increased operational complexity
  • Dealing with versioning of different parts together
  • Testing is difficult to compare to the old monolithic style due to different environments
  • Accessibility and optimization challenges
  • Each team is independent, end up having different frameworks and codebases, lead to ambiguous browser
  • Chance to slow down and impact on the user experience
  • Inconsistency in UI/UX

Before going with the micro front-end, it is wise to check all the feasibilities and maturity to adopt this trend.

Top Brands Using Micro Frontends

  • UpWork
  • Spotify
  • HelloFresh
  • Zalando
  • OpenTable

These brands are already using it and many companies are planning to adopt, making it easier for the developers to go ahead at their own pace by working on new technologies and in smaller chunks.

Why micro-frontends is not replacing component architecture is nicely explained by Mr. Luca Mezzalira in this article. He says,

“Components are definitely valid solutions, many companies are using them every day with great success, but are not the silver bullet for everything; the project, the team, the business, but more in general, the context has to fit otherwise we try to fit a square into a circle and we don’t always get what is expected.”

Front-end World Is Running Fast: Are You?

Whether you adopt micro front-end or not, one thing is sure that front-end is becoming more diverse, capable, and complex. We have plenty of choices to perform different jobs and we have to ensure whatever we choose, delivers quality, consistency, and great user experience which is expected from your brand.

Along with that, the front-end environment requires a scalable architecture that can meet modern business goals in a more manageable style. The micro front-end is the right technique to experiment with the newest technology and cross-functional team environment. We hope that you clearly understand what micro front-end is and if there is anything you want to say, our comment box is waiting for you!

Author: SPEC INDIA

SPEC INDIA, as your single stop IT partner has been successfully implementing a bouquet of diverse solutions and services all over the globe, proving its mettle as a boutique ISO 9001:2015 certified IT solutions organization. With efficient project management practices, international standards to comply, flexible engagement models and superior infrastructure, SPEC INDIA is a customer’s delight. Our skilled technical resources are apt at putting thoughts in a perspective by offering value-added reads for all.


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