Welcome to the third chapter of our "Build in Public" microfrontends adventure!
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As you know, many frontend apps face challenges with large legacy codebases tied to outdated tech stacks or rushed code due to delivery pressure. This can lead to a dilemma for project managers and technical architects. They're unsure about adopting the micro frontend architecture, fearing conflicts and despair.
However, there's a solution that relieves these worries. Instead of a complete app rewrite, the strategy is to gradually replace old app components or modules. This way, new features can be delivered to users without being slowed down by the old monolith.
Here's the trick: A single team can work on migrating one component/module at a time, while others maintain the existing parts of the codebase. Over time, this incremental approach leads to success.
Let me explain this process in detail.
Suppose you have an old family car that's been reliable for years but is really showing its age. It's time for an upgrade but buying a brand new car would be an expensive overhaul.
Instead, you can modernize it piece-by-piece - replace the stereo one month, get new tires another month, install updated seat covers, etc.
This incremental upgrade approach lets you continuously improve the car over time.
Similarly, for an aging website with old technology, you can incrementally replace parts with new microfrontend features:
Month 1: Build a new home page as a microfrontend
Month 2: Extract checkout to a new microfrontend
Month 3: Modernize account settings as a microfrontend
This lets you upgrade the site gradually to avoid a disruptive rewrite.
Imagine you have a 1970s-style house that you want to remodel into a modern, open floor plan.
You wouldn't bulldoze the entire house and rebuild overnight. That would be hugely disruptive for your family's living situation.
Instead, you would remodel in phases:
Phase 1: Demolish a small wing and build an open kitchen
Phase 2: Take down some walls to open up the living and dining rooms
Phase 3: Redo the closed off bedrooms into a master suite
Each phase focuses on remodeling part of the outdated house into modern style.
Over months and years, the incremental phases ultimately transition the full house.
This is less disruptive and gives flexibility to pivot plans based on learnings.
Similarly, incrementally refactoring a legacy app into microfrontends lets you focus on high value areas first while minimizing risk.
Over time, more of the application transitions in phases. But forcing overnight change is too disruptive.
1. Start Where It Matters: Get the Ball Rolling
Begin by identifying the parts of your application that will benefit most from the micro frontend approach. It's not about a complete overhaul; it's about identifying the key areas that can thrive within this new paradigm.
2. Coexistence with Monoliths: Let's Be Friends
Incremental transition doesn't mean waving goodbye to your existing monolith; it means coexisting harmoniously. Consider encapsulating micro frontends within your monolithic architecture. This enables selective migration and paves the way for gradual transformation.
3. Prioritize Use Cases: Time to Get Choosy
Prioritization is your guiding star. Choose use cases that align with business goals and user needs. This way, you incrementally improve the user experience and empower teams to innovate within their designated areas.
4. API Contracts as Connectors: The Magic Bridges
API contracts play a pivotal role in the incremental transition. They act as connectors, enabling smooth communication between micro frontends and the existing monolith. Think of them as bridges that ensure coherence and consistency.
- Upgrade at your own pace
- Isolate riskier changes
- Mix old and new code during transition
- Experiment with new technologies in isolated microfrontends
So think of microfrontends as a way to modernize an outdated website incrementally, like giving an old car a piece-by-piece upgrade.
Of course, no transition is without challenges:
1. Synchronization: Coordinating changes across monoliths and micro frontends demands meticulous synchronization to maintain a coherent user experience.
2. Testing Strategy: Transitioning incrementally requires a thoughtful testing strategy. Ensuring compatibility and consistency during the transition is essential.
3. Communication Overhead: As micro frontends increase, so does the need for effective communication. Maintain clear lines of communication to prevent silos.
So, there you have it—your roadmap to acing the incremental transition in micro frontends. It's all about starting smart, keeping the peace, choosing your use cases, and building those magic bridges.
Next part of this series will be based on following topics :
Brief intro to web components and custom elements
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