Micro-front end architecture for front-end development


By Jeevan Babu April 20, 2021 10 min read

Why micro-frontend architecture is the new trend in front-end development?

Web application development has undergone tremendous changes over a couple of years. Today, web development surrounds a customer-centric approach that aims to deliver a seamless user experience. 

Earlier, web applications were often a single monolithic structure. Later, the application was organized as a decoupled backend and front-end monoliths. Such a pattern proved useful for simple applications.

As the business grows, the requirements to pace up with the customer demands started changing. To stay ahead in the competitive curve, there was a requirement for complex functionalities. This loaded the backend as the size of the codebase became unmanageable. Therefore, to efficiently manage the backend of the web application, microservices were introduced.

Microservices introduced a streamlined and accelerated development process where the entire monolithic backend was sliced into smaller, independent chunks, and each chunk was handled by a dedicated independent team. This concept was further applied to the monolithic frontend to improve team agility. The front end was sliced into smaller micro-apps. This helped in structuring teams vertically around a specific business function, resulting in more productivity. 

Any application that you plan to build should be scalable enough to acquire future enhancements and requirements. Achieving these goals may be cumbersome and tedious when you have a monolithic frontend. With micro-frontends, you get to decouple the functionalities and streamline the process around every business goal with a focus on every stakeholder’s needs.

What is a micro frontend?

Micro-frontend architecture is a design pattern where a large monolithic front-end is segmented into smaller, independent micro-apps that work loosely together.

The basic idea of micro-frontends is the entire monolithic front-end is divided into micro-apps on the basis of features, domain, pages, and sections. Every micro-chunk will be owned by an independent team that will focus on a particular functionality or business goal. This team will be responsible to develop an end-to-end feature of that particular micro-app, right from database to user interface. 

Micro-frontends give a clear picture of the dependencies between those micro-apps. Every micro-app envelopes a single page of the application and is managed by an end-to-end team. For every micro-app development, technology, codebase, team, and release process should be independent and able to operate and evolve independently. 

As a business owner, you’re well aware of the fact that every project has different sizes and requirements. If the project is simple and has 2 or 3 pages, then a small team is enough to handle it. But, if your project is huge with complex requirements, or your application requires a lot of features and sections to be incorporated, then you may have to employ different teams for each feature. This needs micro-frontend implementation. 

The market is filled with numerous open-source and third-party libraries for reducing the development efforts and complexity associated with the projects. One of the biggest challenges a web application developer faces is the growth of applications over time that further increases the complexity of the web app. The application demands scalability and responsiveness as it grows. 

By splitting the coding task into micro-apps, web app developers experience an easier and faster development process, independent deployment, incremental upgrades, and decoupled codebases. 

Micro-frontends help different teams to simultaneously work on large and complex apps. This architecture offers more feasible, autonomic, and serviceable code. The micro-frontend architecture enables easy integration, innovation, and iteration of apps. Moreover, this architecture allows any modifications such as rewrites, updates in an incremental manner. In other words, enterprise application development and deployment with micro-frontend architecture welcomes greater accuracy, high performance, better testability, and seamless scalability. 

Why micro-frontends for your web app?

Let’s dive into the details as to why micro-frontend is an emerging trend for front-end development and how embracing this will prove a boon for the development of large web applications. 

Smaller, manageable micro-apps

A large application is sliced into smaller micro-apps by sections, pages, or features. These micro-apps are developed separately and are independent of each other. Every micro-app is simplified. Each of them is developed and owned by a single team. This offers seamless development and deployment independently. As each micro-app is developed by a separate team that boosts development speed. Moreover, due to micro-apps, there is a fewer unit to test and execute, making testing easier. 

CI/CD transition

The CI/CD process becomes quite easier as each micro-app is integrated and deployed separately. As all the features and functionalities are independent, during any update in the features, we don’t need to worry about the entire application.

Independent tech stacks

For each micro-app, you can choose your own stack. Different versions of the same stack are available. Teams should be flexible enough and must have a good timeframe to introduce and test newer versions of the same stack.

No shared code

As the app scales, the code is shared across features, resulting in a lot of bugs and interdependency. With micro-frontend architecture, the code isn’t shared as every micro-app is developed independently. 

Easy architecture modification without hassles

There are some requirements that demand to extend the old architecture. Sometimes, due to the unavailability of the developers, this becomes impossible. In such cases, micro-frontend is a boon as you can develop a new feature upon the requirements using a new tech stack and deliver that feature independently. 

Autonomy

With micro-frontend architecture, you get to employ fully independent teams that own an entire micro-app right from the product ideation to production. Micro-frontend helps teams to get full ownership of the micro-app. This results in quick, efficient, and effective movement between the micro-apps. Micro-frontends offer autonomy. This brings in higher cohesiveness of the teams. 

Decoupled codebases

As micro-frontend results in micro-apps, the source code of each micro-app is much smaller than the single monolithic codebase. These individual codebases are simpler and easier to manage. This reduces the risk of complexities from the inappropriate and accidental coupling of components.

Incremental upgrades

With micro-frontend architecture, upgrades have become easy. Since the entire monolithic application is sliced up into micro-apps, each micro-app can easily be updated without any perils and worry about the entire application getting weighed down. 

Benefits of micro-frontend architecture

1. Maintainability- With micro-frontend architecture, the entire monolithic application is divided into smaller pieces of apps. Each micro-app has a separate codebase. Each codebase is distributed on the basis of the functionality and feature. Due to this separate codebase, it offers enhanced maintainability.

2. Scalability- The addition of features or any technological advancements can be easily incorporated with micro-frontend architecture.

3. Faster development and deployment- Micro-frontend architecture enables independent teams to work simultaneously on their micro-apps. This promotes faster development of the micro-app through better efficiency. Faster development leads to an accelerated deployment process. Thus micro-frontend architecture for your web app results in faster development and deployment.

4. Resilience- As the entire monolithic project is divided into smaller chunks, these chunks can be independently developed. If there are any kind of issues in a particular micro-app, it doesn’t affect other applications, proving it to be highly resilient.

Wrapping it up!

The web app ecosystem has welcomed micro-frontend architecture for satisfying the ever-changing business requirements. For the front end, micro frontends are the implementation of microservices. 

Every day the modern web apps are becoming more and more complex. The micro-frontend approach helps to understand, develop, test, and deploy larger applications. Though it is trendy and worth attention, you can’t use it for every use case. 

Micro-frontend architecture promises to deliver a seamless user experience and embracing this will definitely help to migrate your monolithic application to micro-frontends easily.

Author Bio

Jeevan Babu is a technology enthusiast and strong believer in agile product development. He is a Senior Project Manager at Fortunesoft IT Innovations a leading custom software development company. A Computer Engineer by education and a technology adherent by passion. His interest in computers & the internet has made him a self-proclaimed geek.