Overcoming the Challenges of Front-end Technology Implementation
Front-end technologies are the magical set of tools or platforms used to develop the user interface (UI) of web applications and web pages. What users view, access, and interact with directly, all counts as front-end technology.
React, Angular and Vue have been the most community-endorsed tools in front-end technology for several years. In particular, React is the most popular front-end framework. React has had the highest usage ranking since 2016, hitting 80% in 2020. with Angular (56%) and Vue (49%) following two steps behind. React’s community endorsement has been constant over the years, remaining in the top three positions when it comes to satisfaction, interest, usage, and awareness ratio rankings since 2016.
Although these three powerhouses (React, Angular, and Vue) have led the pack so far, modern front-end technologies evolve rapidly, with new solutions being introduced to the market daily. Strong contenders, such as Svelte, are constantly emerging and the diversity of choices can cause confusion.
With this in mind, what factors should be considered before implementing a modern front-end technology? Furthermore, what challenges await post-implementation and how did we, at Expert Network, overcome them? What advice do we have for developers that want to work with modern front-end technologies?
Key factors to consider
Base the decision to integrate modern front-end technologies, such as React, into your codebase on a technical and business analysis. Weigh up the costs and risks against the benefits it provides, and be sure that the latter exceeds the former.
Here are some key factors to consider as you measure your scales:
- amount of time that needs to be invested
- the lifespan of a project (and its maintenance)
- the scope of a project (which examines elements such as who the end-user is and whether it’s a short or long-term project)
- team capability
Depending on the end-user, some projects will not benefit from a snappier UI or any page reloads. On the other hand, modern front-end technologies will help in the long run for a lengthy development or maintenance timeframe. Although integrating front-end technologies requires an investment of time, newer technologies are easier to maintain and integrate, making them ideal for long-term projects.
Challenges in implementing front-end technology
At Expert Network, we use React as part of our front-end stack. We chose to use React as it has the best balance between developer satisfaction and community support, as well as the best third party libraries. Despite its many benefits, we’ve had to overcome several challenges whilst implementing React: making sure our teams have the support they need, using the right tools and best practices, and providing standardized ways of integrating React with existing large codebases.
One of the challenges of integrating modern technology, such as React, into an existing project is ensuring that teams are comfortable using the technology. The solution is to have sources that promote and share best practices.
At Expert Network, we hold extensive training sessions and workshops to ensure that our teams get the support they need to deliver quality code using React. We also have people that encourage other team members to use best practices and conduct knowledge-sharing sessions. Moreover, our front-end discipline provides help and consultancies whenever required.
2. Choosing the right tools from millions
Another challenge is choosing the right tool for the job. The front-end ecosystem is incredibly diverse, with 1.3 million packages on NPM, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to sift out the ones with good support and planned future updates.
To counter this, we keep a list of curated tried-and-tested packages based on the community support a tool enjoys. This list helps our developers to choose the right tool to tackle a problem. In another sense, it also helps us to standardize our workflow across multiple projects.
3. Integrating with large existing codebases
Not every project is new. When using modern front-end technologies, they may need to be integrated with an existing codebase. Depending on how the specific project was designed, this could be an easy or difficult task.
To help our teams, we provide guidance and support with planning and integration. We also constantly share our experiences with different integrations on various projects so that individuals can use this knowledge to choose the best solution. As an example, we hold internal meetings, named DevOps Forum. DevOps Forums are internal meetings with our group of developers where we exchange ideas, learn from each other, and come up with the finest strategies and approaches to implement into our projects. It’s a hands-on approach that tackles the task in question directly and gives the team a space to get the advice and support they need.
At Expert Network, we constantly aim to standardize and streamline processes because it helps our developers, our customers, and our company. In this sense, we are working on a series of guidelines, training, and an internal audit process to find timely solutions to issues that may arise.
Advice to keep in mind
Our experience in integrating modern front-end technology has been a true learning curve. For other developers at the cusp of a similar journey, here is some advice we’d like to share based on our experience:
- Improve your project one module at a time. Integrating with large codebases does not have to be done all at once.
- Use tools that are supported by the community. This will help you to reduce the number of bugs and will make it easier to find solutions for issues that arise along the way.
- Your team is the key to the success of a project. It’s essential to identify team members that have an affinity for front-end technologies and are willing to promote or share their knowledge with the rest.
- Several frameworks have been tried and tested, proving themselves effective for projects of any size and difficulty. Therefore, using community-endorsed tools like React, Angular or Vue will provide the best results in projects as you’ll be able to easily find the answers you are looking for.