Achieving scalability and efficiency without sacrificing quality is the holy grail of software development. Micro frontends—an innovative architectural approach inspired by microservices—have emerged as a promising strategy to achieve this. This method promotes independent development, testing, and deployment of each user interface portion by breaking down monolithic front-end applications into smaller, more manageable pieces. From enabling quicker feature roll-outs and higher-quality code to facilitating incremental modernization, this architecture is reshaping the way organizations create flexible, future-proof digital solutions.

We have comprehensively analyzed the key advantages and disadvantages of adopting micro frontends to support informed decision-making. Your strategic approach towards tech integration can thereby be enhanced with this insight. Let’s learn about this framework and dive deeper into the implementation best practices.

What are micro frontends?

Micro frontends, an innovative architectural approach, involve breaking down a monolithic frontend application into a collection of smaller, more manageable pieces. This methodology extends similar principles to the frontend landscape by drawing inspiration from the microservices model, revolutionizing backend development. Each user interface (UI) portion, such as components or pages, is developed, tested, and deployed independently in a micro frontend architecture. Different teams often own these units that can autonomously work while contributing to a cohesive whole.

These micro frontend components can be developed using different technologies based on what best suits the requirements. They operate individually, enabling updates or alterations to be made without affecting the entire application, substantially increasing the development speed and reducing the risk associated with deployment.

Furthermore, the isolated nature of these components can improve the testing process, as each micro frontend can be validated in isolation, promoting higher-quality code and reducing bugs.

Simply put, a typical web application architecture looks like the following:

micro frontend architecture vs microservices

So, the Web application consists of components or features. What’s important is that each of these components has its codebases, CI/CD pipelines, and DevOps practices. Also, depending on their size or organizational structure, they may be developed by separate teams. However, it is still a single application, which means that teams can distract each other while developing their features.

So, if we take the e-commerce platform as an example, the shopping cart service provides API methods, such as listing cart contents, adding an item, removing an item, etc. All these features are connected to the same page and thus interdependent. 

In the case of the micro frontends framework, the architecture looks more like this:

micro frontend architecture

Unlike the previous option, features are independent. Let’s again take the e-commerce platform as an example. The page contains the following features: variant selector (shows different colors of the available item, for instance), buy button, and mini basket (leads to the checkout).

The page consists of components owned by three separate teams. Let’s call them the checkout, product, and recommendations teams. The first team is responsible for the purchase process: the buy button and mini basket. The second owns the page itself (decides on the features and the layout of the page). At the same time, the third team places products that can also interest a customer on the page.

micro frontend teams

So, the micro frontend application becomes an aggregation of smaller independent applications.

But why do you need micro frontends? What benefits can they bring? Let’s find out together. 

Advantages of micro frontends architecture

Some of the key benefits you can get from this framework are:

  • Scalability. The micro frontends framework allows applications to be broken down into smaller, independent units. This promotes greater scalability as teams can focus on developing specific components without comprehending the entire codebase.
  • Autonomous development. With micro frontends, different teams can work independently on separate components using the technology stack best suited for their component's requirements. This autonomy facilitates parallel development, reducing project timelines and increasing overall productivity.
  • Ease of deployment. Given its independent nature, the framework enables more frequent and isolated deployments. This minimizes the risk of deploying changes to an extensive, monolithic application and facilitates quicker feature roll-outs.
  • Improved testing. Isolation of components also enhances the testing process. Each micro frontend can be individually validated, resulting in fewer bugs, higher quality code, and a more reliable application.
  • Modernization. By allowing each component to be updated or replaced independently, the micro frontends architecture enables an organization to modernize its applications incrementally. This reduces the risks associated with significant overhauls and allows organizations to adopt new technologies at their own pace.

Read more: Microservices vs monolith: Which architecture is the best choice for your business?

In summary, the micro frontend architecture offers improved scalability, enhanced development autonomy, simplified deployment, superior testing, and the capacity for incremental modernization. It is a key strategy for organizations seeking to create flexible, future-proof digital solutions. However, apart from benefits, this approach can bring about some challenges. Let’s explore them in more detail.

Disadvantages of micro frontend architecture

While this architecture delivers an array of advantages, they also come with specific challenges and potential drawbacks that should be taken into account:

  • Increased сomplexity. The micro frontends framework can introduce additional complexity due to the need for inter-component communication, disparate technology stacks, and the orchestration of multiple deployment pipelines. This can lead to increased overhead regarding team coordination and architectural planning.
  • Consistency challenges. Maintaining a consistent user experience and interface across multiple independently-developed components can be challenging. It requires strict adherence to design guidelines and regular cross-team communication to ensure a unified and consistent end-user experience.
  • Potential performance impact. Depending on how the micro frontends architecture is implemented, they could lead to performance issues. These could stem from loading multiple frameworks or libraries for different components, increasing the application's overall size and load time.
  • Operational overhead. The framework may require additional infrastructure and management efforts for independent deployment, scaling, and monitoring of the various components. This might lead to an increase in operational costs and resources.
  • Shared component management. Sharing standard functionalities or components across different elements can be complex and may involve setting up and maintaining a shared components library, another operational overhead.

While this framework offers a range of benefits, it also poses challenges in increased complexity, consistency maintenance, potential performance impact, operational overhead, and shared component management. It's crucial to balance these factors against the potential benefits when considering this architectural approachю. Nevertheless, you can overcome all these challenges by following these best practices.

Building a micro frontend architecture: Best practices

To successfully implement a micro frontend architecture, it is crucial to establish a well-organized workflow and embrace automation. By defining clear responsibilities, roles, and API contracts, teams can collaborate more effectively. Below, you can find a list of the best practices that help enterprises build a micro frontend architecture, including:

1. Organizing workflow

The crux of development lies in empowering your teams to deliver independently. Thus, it's critical to establish clear responsibilities, goals, and roles that garner unanimous agreement. Ensuring well-structured and consistent API contracts between teams is equally crucial. These contracts elucidate the expected behavior of your APIs, fostering smoother collaboration.

Once these foundations are in place, your teams can navigate independently toward their objectives. Moreover, aligning business requirements with modular delivery can amplify the benefits of this framework. If your business requires a simultaneous designation of all components, you risk underutilizing the modularity, leading to a monolithic organizational structure, despite a modular architectural setup.

2. Embracing automation

The micro frontend architecture necessitates the implementation of build and deployment automation. Without this, you could encounter stagnation. This requirement might be universal, but it gains paramount importance in a highly modular architecture. Thus, investing in a robust CI/CD pipeline is essential.

Test automation is critical in this context, as is multi-level testing. The primary aim of your testing process should be to ensure the smooth movement of architecture components without disrupting the production environment. As such, building testable dependencies that are transparent and automatically validated should be a priority.

3. Avoiding the overuse of micro frontends

Overapplication could lead to excessive application fragmentation, potentially creating limited-value components. Numerous resources guide determining the optimal size and the suitable elements for service. Over-optimization can be counterproductive.

When partitioning, keep an eye on potential hurdles. For instance, modular architectures necessitate unique testing strategies for each module. Thus, prioritize applications that require independent deployment. Features that demand adaptability over time are ideal candidates for micro frontend implementation.

4. Determining the right size for your micro frontends 

Determining the optimal size resembles the considerations around sizing microservices. They need to be appropriately proportioned - too large, and your application becomes overly coupled; too small, and you face fragmentation. Striking a balance is vital.

While there isn't a one-size-fits-all rule, the guiding principle should be that each micro frontend possesses a distinct business purpose in isolation. For example, while creating individual micro frontends for each icon on a menu bar is technically feasible, it's generally more judicious to consider the entire menu bar as a single micro frontend.

Decisions about micro frontend architecture and application segmentation should be well-defined in advance. In organizations such as N-iX, such strategic choices are typically made by Solution Architects, highlighting the need for expert oversight in this process.

micro frontends: best practices

Bottom line

Adopting micro frontends should be strategically aligned with your specific business case. Applying a micro frontend architecture may not justify investing in smaller projects with compact teams. Conversely, larger-scale projects, particularly those with distributed teams and high volumes of requests, can reap substantial benefits from implementing micro frontend applications. This potential for scalability and efficiency has led numerous large companies to adopt this architectural approach, which might be a compelling reason for you to consider it too.

Contact us

Why choose N-iX for building your micro frontends?

  • N-iX brings to the table over 20 years of diversified experience in various sectors, including healthcare, telecom, fintech, and manufacturing, to name a few;
  • With a talented pool of more than 2,000 professionals, we possess the capability to develop solutions tailored to your unique needs;
  • Our portfolio includes 150+ Cloud projects completed in the last five years, gaining ISG recognition for excellence in public Cloud services;
  • In adherence to international standards, N-iX complies with regulations such as ISO 27001:2013, PCI DSS, ISO 9001:2015, and GDPR. We prioritize the security of your sensitive data, ensuring its protection at all times.
  • N-iX's comprehensive portfolio of data projects, spanning Big Data, Data Science, and Data Warehouse Consulting, speaks volumes about our depth of expertise and commitment to delivering high-quality, data-driven solutions.

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N-iX Staff
Dmytro Ovcharenko
Director of Technology Office

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