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Micro Frontend Fundamentals: When to use and How It works

Published: 25th August, 2023
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Vibha Gupta

Technical Content Writer at almaBetter

This comprehensive guide will explore the concept of micro frontends, their benefits, and how to implement them in your web development projects. Read now!

Microservices have revolutionized the backend architecture of web applications, allowing businesses to break down monolithic systems into smaller, independent services. But what about the frontend? The traditional client-side monolith often poses challenges when it comes to integrating new features, adopting new technologies, and scaling separate components. This is where micro frontend architecture comes into play.

This comprehensive guide will explore the concept of micro frontends, their benefits, and how to implement them in your web development projects. We'll also examine various integration patterns and communication techniques between micro frontends. Let's dive in and discover how micro frontends can help you build scalable and flexible web applications.

What are Micro Frontends?

Micro frontends are an architectural and organizational style in which the frontend of an application is decomposed into individual, loosely coupled "micro apps." Just like microservices, these micro frontend angular can be built, tested, and deployed independently. Each micro frontend represents a separate feature or fragment of the web page and is owned by an independent team specializing in a distinct business area or mission.

To illustrate this, let's take the example of the Instagram web page. Imagine breaking down the Instagram page into different micro frontends. The navigation bar, header, footer, saved stories, and posts could all be developed as separate micro frontends. Each team responsible for a micro frontend react can work independently, focusing on their specific feature while maintaining loose coupling with other teams.

Micro Frontend Example

Micro Frontend Example

Monolithic Architecture vs Microservices and Micro Frontends

Let's compare the benefits of micro frontends with monolithic architecture and microservices to better understand them.

Monolithic Architecture

In the past, applications were built as monolithic systems, with all components tightly coupled and relying on each other. Any changes or additions to the system required modifying the entire codebase, making introducing new features or technologies challenging.

While monolithic architectures have some advantages, such as easy and fast development for small applications and relatively simple testing and debugging, they also suffer from limitations. Deployments are inflexible, introducing new technologies often requires rewriting a significant portion of the project, and the codebase becomes complex and hard to manage as the number of developers grows.

Microservices Architecture

Microservices architecture addresses the limitations of monolithic systems by breaking down the backend into independent, loosely coupled services. Each service runs its own process, has its own codebase, and can be deployed and scaled independently. This enables better flexibility, technology freedom, scalability, and autonomy for each service.

However, the frontend remains a monolith in a traditional microservices architecture. This is where micro frontends come in to extend the benefits of microservices to the frontend.

What is Micro Frontend Architecture React

Micro frontend architecture applies the concept of microservices to the browser. Instead of having a monolithic frontend, the UI is composed of semi-independent fragments, each developed by a separate team. These teams are vertically sliced and cross-functional, working on specific features end-to-end, from the user interface to the backend services. They have the freedom to choose their preferred technology stack, making it easier to introduce new technologies and scale individual features.

Micro frontends offer several benefits, including better flexibility, technology freedom, smaller and more manageable codebases, easy app scaling, autonomous teams and systems, and a lower entry barrier for new developers.

How Micro Frontends Work: Core Ideas and Integration Patterns

Now that we have covered the basics of angular micro frontends, let's explore how they work and the integration patterns involved.

Vertical Slicing and End-to-End Responsibility

In a micro frontend architecture, teams are vertically sliced based on domain expertise or mission. Each team is responsible for end-to-end development, code quality, user experience, and deployment of a specific feature. This includes frontend developers, backend engineers, QA engineers, and other specialists working together on one mission.

For example, in an eCommerce site, one team might be responsible for the search functionality, while another team handles the payment process. Each team operates independently, making decisions based on their mission and expertise.

Routing for Page-Level Integration

Routing is essential for integrating micro frontends at the page level. Each micro frontend is treated as a single-page app, and routing can be implemented using HTML links or meta-frameworks like single-spa.

HTML links allow users to navigate between different module federation micro frontends by fetching the target markup from the server and replacing the current page. This approach provides a straightforward way to integrate micro frontends, especially when server-side rendering is not required.

Meta-frameworks like single-spa offer more advanced routing capabilities, enabling the combination of different pages regardless of the underlying framework or library. These frameworks provide module loaders, wrappers for UI components, and APIs for communication between micro frontends.

Composition for Fragment-Level Integration

Composition is the process of assembling fragments into a single interface. In micro frontend architecture angular, there are two main types of composition: client-side and server-side.

Client-side composition involves creating and updating HTML markup directly in the web browser. Each micro frontend can display and update its markup independently, relying on web components or other frontend frameworks. This approach allows for more flexibility and dynamic updates but requires the browser to handle the composition.

Server-side composition, on the other hand, involves composing UI fragments on the server and delivering a fully assembled page to the client. This approach improves loading speed and reduces the complexity on the client side. Content delivery networks (CDNs) or other server-side composition services can be used for this purpose.

Communication Patterns between Micro Frontends

While micro frontends aim to minimize communication between components, there are cases where inter-component communication is necessary. Here are a few patterns to facilitate communication between micro frontends:

  • Web workers: Web workers allow running JavaScript in the background, independently of other scripts, and without affecting page performance. Each micro frontend can use a different web worker API to perform intensive processing tasks.
  • Props and callbacks: This pattern involves defining parent and child components, with communication happening through props and callbacks. Parent components pass information as props to child components, and child components can trigger callbacks to notify parent components of state changes.
  • Event emitter: Micro frontends can communicate through an event emitter, where components listen for events and respond accordingly. When a micro frontend frameworks fire an event, other subscribed react micro frontends can react to it. This pattern can be implemented using an event emitter injected into each micro frontend.

When to Use React Micro Frontend Architecture

Micro frontends are well-suited for medium to large projects with multiple teams and complex features. They excel in web projects, allowing for flexibility in technology choices and scalability. Micro frontends are also beneficial for productivity-focused projects, as vertically sliced teams can work independently and deliver features faster.

However, next JS micro frontends may not be necessary for small projects or those with unclear vertical cuts. Overcomplicating a simple website with micro frontends can introduce unnecessary overhead. It's important to carefully consider a project's specific needs and requirements before adopting micro frontends.

In conclusion, micro frontends offer a powerful architectural approach to building scalable and flexible web applications. By decomposing the frontend into independent, loosely coupled micro apps, teams can work autonomously, choose their preferred technology stack, and scale features independently. With proper integration and communication patterns, micro frontend examples can bring the benefits of microservices to the frontend and enable teams to deliver high-quality, feature-rich web applications.

Remember, when considering micro frontends, evaluate the size and complexity of your project, the clarity of vertical cuts, and the potential benefits and challenges. With the right approach and understanding, micro frontends can revolutionize your web development process and empower your teams to build innovative and scalable applications.

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