Micro frontends: breaking down the monolith

In the not so distant past, most applications took the shape of monolithic digital entities. A monolithic frontend means all the UI components and features of an application are handled by a single, large codebase. In this architecture, the frontend is tightly coupled with the backend and cannot be easily separated. This means that the entire application runs on a single server and any updates or changes to the frontend require redeploying the entire application.

This is a costly and time-consuming practice and makes it difficult to scale an application when it grows or needs to be changed. The desire for more scalability and flexibility has given rise to another type of frontend architecture: micro frontends. But what are micro frontends? And which benefits do they bring to the table? Read on and find out.

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What are micro frontends?

Micro frontends break down a large frontend application into smaller, independent, and loosely coupled components, each responsible for a specific feature or UI element. These smaller components, also known as micro frontends are composed into a functioning whole, but can also be developed and deployed independently. You can use different programming languages, frameworks, and technologies to develop micro frontends, as long as they can communicate with each other through well-defined APIs.

The benefits of micro frontends

Micro frontends come with several interesting benefits. Let’s take a look at the most important ones

More flexibility and scalability

Micro frontends allow for greater flexibility, scalability, and maintainability of the overall frontend application. You can choose the best technology for each separate micro frontend, without affecting or altering the entire application.

More effective development

Micro frontends facilitate more efficient parallel development (different teams can work on different parts of the frontend without stepping on each other’s toes), and easier upgrades or changes to individual frontend components without impacting the entire application.
Better fault isolation
Micro frontends provide greater fault isolation than traditional monolithic frontends, as any issues or failures in one micro frontend can be contained and resolved without affecting the rest of the application. This often results in improved resilience and availability of the overall application.

Integration with the backend

Just as micro frontends modularize the frontend, microservices do the same for the backend. When both are used, it’s crucial to ensure seamless interaction between frontend components and backend services.

choosing the right frontend architecture for your project

Although micro frontends offer substantial benefits, they are often more complex (more deployments, the need to manage more code bases) and expensive than their monolithic counterparts. When choosing the right frontend architecture for your project, you should always carefully consider your project requirements, team skills and experience, available resources, and budget.