Everything You Need to Know About Micro Frontend

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Everything You Need to Know About Micro Frontend

When to Use it, Why, and How to Do it Properly

Written by:

Yan Leseu

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14 min read

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Foreword

For years software development has been focused on the backend systems and processes that speed up production. While the overall approach to splitting tasks in development is positive, the same ideas can be applied to the forward-facing side of creating software by implementing a micro frontend approach. This helps eliminate many issues surrounding a monolithic philosophy of software development.

When Monolith Doesn’t Work

Today’s rapid consumer demands require a more flexible development system. It helps to break down processes and projects into smaller chunks because you can grow an MVP faster and because it allows more direct adaptation to new needs that pop up during the active use of a project. While the monolithic approach to getting a project off the ground does work, its ability to actively respond to unforeseen situations is not as powerful for several reasons.

1) Slow and Complicated Development

When a monolith contains a lot of services, every single one must be confirmed, tested, and deployed. That means if you have an issue with one service, you have to wait for all the others to get on board before you can relaunch a new instance of your program. This is also true if one stage in the pipeline fails. Instead of quickly fixing the individual chunks like with micro frontend architecture, you are stuck waiting while the entire project is derailed.

2) Cumbersome Infrastructure

By definition, everything inside monolithic architecture follows the same infrastructure. This is like a containment unit where if a leak opens in one area, the entire thing must be reevaluated. Not only does this cause problems in affordable scaling, but it also means parts and services with different functionality must be contained in a single infrastructure, further restricting their use case potential.

3) Code Ownership Becomes Complicated

Intertwined nature of a monolith makes the system hard to understand for new team members. They face a massive labyrinthine codebase because even the minor alterations provoke changes in the whole system. 

The point is you need a more adaptable way to update, repair, deploy, and communicate between different departments, and that is possible with the new trend of micro frontend development.

What is Micro Frontend

At its core, micro frontend is a new way of building software and web-based applications by splitting up different components or services of a project into smaller deliverables that can be brought together for the whole end product.

What is micro frontend

The goal is to reduce cross-team dependencies that slow down development while also increasing the ability to respond to new updates, needs, or market demands all through a single-page architecture. This creates a ton of new flexibility beyond monolithic architecture because you do not have to rely on the entire software deployment package for changes, only specific segments.

Do not confuse micro frontends with microservices. These are two different entities. Microservices only occupy a single element or idea, whereas micro frontend can be for a whole page element like a menu bar or the page itself. There is no 1-to-1 connection between micro frontends and microservices.

What Benefits Does Using Micro Frontend Bring?

The most crucial benefit of micro frontend architecture is the independence of constituent modules. This creates a more flexible project, software, or website design capable of meeting the ever-changing demands of current market whims. Let’s learn how:

  • Easier modular development — the development of an isolated piece is far easier than that of an entire monolith. Apart from just the size, when developing a module you don’t have any limitations that may occur during holistic development. This gives you more freedom and creativity as well as a wider choice of technologies.
  • Multiple languages — micro frontends do not bear a burden of a single system-wide language. Page elements and software features can be made from entirely different frameworks as long as they are capable of communicating and integrating with the rest of the whole.
  • Easier modular testing — assessing the performance of a single chunk is far easier, faster and less resource-consuming because the rest of the app remains untouched. 
  • Easier modular deployment — the same applies here. Individual components are easier to manage and deliver to production with less risk of facing a breakdown. 
  • Faster development — the simultaneous development, testing and deployment of multiple parts of a project allows for a faster MVP to market that can be live-tested and perfected.
  • Increased system’s fault tolerance — fragmented nature of the application makes it resistant to various kinds of failures. If one module faces stoppage, only its respective functionality will be affected. The rest of the app will remain live, and this may potentially save you from a costly downtime. For example, imagine you are running an e-commerce store. Suddenly, the product description module breaks down. Even though customer experience will be obviously harmed, visitors will still be able to proceed and make a purchase. This is because everything else like checkout, payment execution, queries to backend, etc. will remain working. Unlike in a monolith, where a single mistake will cause the whole application to collapse in an avalanche.
  • Increased scalability — you can quickly scale specific application parts without needing to update the entire system every time a new market reach or customer demand goal is attained. This means if you have a sudden increase in visitors needing payment services, you can address just the billing side of the application without touching the rest of it.
  • Easier onboarding — micro frontend has a nice little cheat code up its sleeve. If you need to bring in new experts and there is a front end architect on the team, you can save some time on onboarding. How? By freeing the experts from studying business logic and concentrating only on their respective pieces. If the app is large enough, this may help you jump to development way faster.
  • Fuller resource utilization — micro frontend lets you allocate your team’s developers with different expertise more effectively. For example, if you are developing a monolithic solution with React as a front end technology, you will have to bring in the required amount of experts, regardless of whether you have all of them hired. Whereas with micro frontend, if you lack some of those but have experts in other technologies (Angular for instance), you can simply share your front end between the two frameworks. This way you will, on the one hand, save a fortune on hiring, and on the other — better optimize resource usage, minimizing the idle time of Angular developers.

As you can see, micro frontend has many benefits which makes it an appealing option. Now let’s look at what challenges it has.

What are the Challenges of Using Micro Frontend

The speed and flexibility of micro frontend certainly helps bring projects to a final product state faster than with monolithic design. But there are some hiccups that need to be accounted for when planning resources and timelines. These can include:

  • More complex preparation — before developing a micro frontend solution, a team needs to decide its architecture, communication processes with a back end, components usage, etc. This takes significantly more time than preparing to develop a monolith.
  • More resources to keep the app running — for example, if there’s a reusable component that’s present across your entire system, and you need to update it, you need to redeploy each module in your solution. If they are written in different languages, bringing them all to a unified styling may be quite hard.
  • More complex end-to-end testing — the root of micro frontends is that you have a lot of smaller parts being developed simultaneously. This helps with upgrading and innovation, but also brings along bridging different frameworks together which increases the overall system’s complexity. This, in turn, requires dynamic load balancing and a massive end-to-end testing to ensure that all individual units fit together into a smooth final project.
  • Wide Variety of Standards — more frameworks and languages used in a project make up for more requirements to adhere to. A monolith design, due to a limited set of technologies used, usually has fewer norms to keep in mind.
  • Documentation relevance — the documentation should always, at any point of time, stay perfectly up to date. This moment is very important because if there's a need to bring in more experts to a project without the above mentioned cheat code, understanding the whole system will be extremely difficult.
  • Added macromanagement — spreading the work among different autonomous teams poses a threat of them deviating from the track. For this reason, if you choose micro frontend architecture as your app’s standard, such things as solid workflow practices, transparent communication and reporting are a must to ensure that all teams are moving towards the same goal.

This is actually where hiring the experts at SENLA can drastically influence the success of your next project. Instead of jumping into a software application or website infrastructure using micro frontend, you get experts who understand when to use micro frontend or monolithic design.

Our years of experience in the field gives us insight into what tools, architectures, tech stacks, and processes are best to deliver a quality product on time to your team.

Reach out today to schedule a consultation with our experts. We have the development expertise and project management knowledge you need to get your next project off the ground.

When to Choose Micro Frontend for an App’s Development

Understanding the different needs of a project is critical to its overall success. That includes knowing what human assets, frameworks, tech stacks, and other resources to properly allocate. Micro frontend offers a lot of benefits to app development and should be leveraged when you are facing a situation like:

When to choose micro frontend
  • Technologically Diversified Team — if you are looking at a team with specialization in different languages, tech stacks, or specific design features, you may want to implement micro frontend architecture. The goal is to get the most out of your team without hiring new resources. Instead of writing everything in a single language, each member can write in the language they are best skilled at and then integrate their individual units into the larger app design.
  • International Support — remote work and hybrid teams often involve multiple spoken languages like English, German, Spanish, and more. Instead of hiring an interpreter to communicate between every team, you can give them specific projects to develop that they can focus on.
  • Time Zone Differences — this is one of the best reasons to introduce micro frontends, when your team is physically spread out over different geographic locations. International timelines make it incredibly difficult to build based on monolithic architecture. Using micro frontend allows teams to function on specific units within a reasonable time zone between one another. This way, you do not have someone on the East Coast of the US trying to communicate with another dev in Beijing.
  • Limited Resources — whenever you are faced with a smaller team that needs to work in different tech stacks requirements, you can make adaptations and have specialists working within their comfort zone that can be later integrated into the whole project. This reduces the need to hire other devs or specialists when you do not have the financial, time, or available resources to compensate for the new hire.

When Not to Choose Micro Frontend for Your App

Monolithic architecture does have certain use cases that are better to leverage. Like most things in software, app, and website development, adapting to the situation and project is far more important than sticking to a single philosophy.

Whenever a project is on the smaller size or form factor, it may be better to go with a monolith. The goal is to get your app to the market as quickly as possible and when the overall size is manageable enough with a single codebase, then it makes sense to stick to monolithic. Trying to introduce a ton of diversification will not be helpful because splitting parts into multiple units could slow down development and testing.

Simplicity is the other big reason to stick to monolithic architecture. When the challenges facing your project are relatively easy to overcome, there is no reason to introduce the complex structure and management of the micro frontend because the job can be done within a single infrastructure.

Best Practices of Implementing Micro Frontend

Integrating a micro frontend architecture into your project does not have to be a complicated endeavor. It helps to stick to a core set of ideas to smooth out the process and ensure everyone on your team is efficiently functioning at their best.

Make sure you have the workflow organization already in place before starting the project. This could include how every team will communicate between one another and what leadership is in charge of what decisions. Creating the infrastructure of management is just as important as the project's infrastructure.

Try to utilize automation wherever possible to save time and improve communication. This is especially helpful for the teams located in different areas or using multiple languages. Having project management software or telecommunication systems improves how well every unit will be integrated. It keeps teams properly informed of the overall implementation process.

You also do not need to overuse micro frontends. Try to find the right balance by preselecting the units you want to break your project down into. This will help streamline the final process and make development so much easier. It can be surprisingly attractive to try and segment everything, but that may not be necessary.

This is another area where hiring our consultant team at SENLA can offer incredible value to your next project. We have been working with micro frontend development for years and understand how to streamline the process with the appropriate amount of leverage from every aspect.

Our team will work with you and your project to get an MVP off the ground quickly, utilizing adaptive IT and project skills like BA, UX/UI design, development, QA, etc. We have the skills you need in a proper micro frontend balance to get the job done right.

Best Hands-On Cases of Micro Frontend Implementation

There are a few areas where using a micro frontend framework greatly improves developing, upgrading or introducing new systems.

Best micro frontend use cases

A good example is the reuse of an existing application by integration into another app. Instead of introducing alien code into a monolithic architecture, you can create a micro frontend solution that smoothly integrates and lowers the risk of any potential harm to the underlying code.

Security concerns or protecting specific intellectual properties are a lot easier with micro frontend development because it can segment out units to specific teams. If you have proprietary code for banking and only want certain team members working on that section of your app, you can divide the rest of the tasks with other teams. This helps prevent exposing the entire group to the code that is your competitive advantage.

Anytime you want to add new capabilities or functionality to a legacy system, you can use micro frontend architecture. This is quite common because it can be challenging to find the original devs who worked on the project.

Need Assistance with Implementing Micro Frontend?

We have got your back! Our expert team can develop a system from scratch for you or reinforce your team with the specialists you need to get your MVP to market. We work hard to listen to your unique needs and bring in the talent necessary to get the project off the ground. So book a consultation with our professionals today, and let’s build something great together!

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