Micro Apps: Significance & Benefits for your Business
It was Mitchell Ashley who announced the advent of Microapp in the year 2009. When we talk about microapp, it's not about a diminutive form of a more extensive PC app, website, or online service. Two principles work this concept:
1) Slim, targeted, quick-in and out capabilities and
2) Performing tasks instantaneously; at the drop of a hat.
The minute you think of it, be it professional or personal, we all have been using micro apps for quite some time now without being consciously aware of their presence. It has silently worked for all of us in our daily lives, and it has hiked the simplicity quotient in our lives without screaming it from the rooftops. We have used micro apps to report time off, submit expenses, search employee directories, upload shared resources, the flight search box in google, calendar alerts on desktop, WeChat, and so many more. We may not be aware of what micro apps are. First things first, let's clear the cloud on what exactly it is microapp.
What are Micro apps? How are they different from heavy-load applications?
A microapp is an application designed to focus on and execute only one function. This one line sums up everything about microapp. But in software engineering terms, we explain it by using another computer programming principle. The Single-Responsibility Principle or SRP. First coined by Robert C. Martin, the principle is elucidated by him as - “A class should have only one reason to change.” In one of his talks, he explained that the SRP is about people, particularly roles and actors. While roles and actors can safely be said to be the same, the role of an accountant is hugely different from that of a database administrator. Therefore, each module ought to be responsible for each/one role. To cut the flab, a microapp is an application that concentrates on just one task and does it well.
It has a single-minded focus on the task at hand and optimizing the user experience. Before this amazing technology saw the light of day, we had traditional business applications that would consist of a large suite of functionalities packed into a single interface. Despite the meticulous design of such an application, its size and intricacy led to problems galore. Slow load time on resource-constrained devices, the inability of users to locate functionalities in double-quick time, not to mention the time and resources that building such an application consumed, were just the tip of the iceberg.
What makes them different?
Micro apps are a panacea for all the troubled souls buckling under the abovementioned load. This was strategically built to suit consumers who need to accomplish that one task without losing cognitive energy in navigating applications and software. A large, labyrinthine app is broken down into smaller apps, much to the benefit of the consumer and the developer. For example, Facebook messenger, Google hangouts, or Accuweather. These are smaller pieces making up a larger web application. These can be run independently when needed. Numerous features in a single monolithic app often lie redundant. The user ends up using only the features that they enjoy most. But the sorry part is that they have to work their way around all those numerous features which eat up their time and energy, and they abandon the entire exercise in frustration and irritation. However, a one-stop shop will encourage the users to just open the app and jump into it immediately without circuitous navigation.
Another pain area is the authentication process. Multi-layered authentication makes the developer and user jump through and over many obstacles. They have to keep track of permissions and passwords, which can be really mind-numbing. Of course, a log and reference can be maintained to track which part of the app users have access to. But when one is in a hurry and has a plane to catch or a deal to close, this exercise can end up tying you up in knots. With a microapp, one only has to worry about authentication and permissions for that one task that needs to be achieved. For a user, it means he has to give credentials only once when opening the app.
Advantages of Micro apps
1. Easy Maintainance:
- Less is more with a microapp. If we take apart an app that has multiple functions, we will probably end up having five to ten micro apps. This in itself is enough to crowd you. But the good news is that the resultant apps would be separate and independent. It would be so much easier to maintain and create the deconstructed apps than to maintain one complex app as opposed to the latter microapp based on atomic design.
2. Fast and proficient development:
- Another benefit of a microapp is the economy of time and effort that goes into its creation. A developer easily uses parts of micro apps to create other apps. One does not need to start from scratch, coding out an application. Every software company has man-hours to account for. Microapp creation allows developers to be successfully proficient with their time and skill. They work on the features and changes that are requested by the user well within the budgeted man-hours. So, in the end, the ease of use for the end-user and ease of maintenance for the developer speaks volumes in favor of the microapp.
3. Versatile and leanness:
- Major social media sites and businesses have bullishly started employing micro apps to execute their processes outside the main platform. If the above arguments are not reason enough, there is more fodder to chew on. Microapp is malleable because of their autonomous structure and small size. Each app can function on its own, supported by a dedicated database. Ergo, these small and lithe apps are most suited for mobile devices without them eating into the processing power of desktop computers.
- Their leanness facilitates better security than the gargantuan monolithic apps that make developers miss vulnerabilities and can be customized without much ado. Developers can add, delete or update the app without affecting other features.
4. Support engaging, interactive features:
- Micro apps are popular for being modular and minimal. They sport lightweight, interactive features that value-add vanilla products and make them appealing to users. This holds particularly true for e-commerce pages and messaging apps. Micro apps have self-contained backend features that ensure that there is no code duplication.
5. Easy to scale, easy to deploy:
- Another benefit of Micro apps is that they offer faster server-side scalability that reduces the strain on AWS and other cloud providers. Besides, they can be easily deployed across all devices and platforms without launching into separate coding, features, or versions. Micro apps are HTML/HTML5 compliant and can be embedded into existing applications or websites. All in all, microapp is a go-to solution for business processes and personal tasks.
Micro apps vs. Micro Services: Whats the difference?
Oftentimes, we come across the information that microapp is built on microservice architecture. It is enough to confuse a layman. From where the end user is placed, both often provide the same functionality. One needs to put it under the microscope to discern the difference between them. The former is an app, and the latter is a developmental methodology. The methodology is used to build a suite of small services, each running its own processes independently and autonomously. Each of them communicates with lightweight mechanisms, an HTTP resource API. These services are designed and built to resolve specific business needs to be independently deployed by fully automated deployment machinery.
We find that in the days gone by, things were exactly the opposite. The application architecture employed was a monolith. As such, making changes to it was no laughing matter. A single change ended up affecting the entire system, no matter how small the customization. On the other hand, Microservice does not bring any such complication in its wake. No longer is it required to scale the entire application and build and deploy an entirely new version of the particular application that one is trying to modify. And we come back to the question of how are microapp and microservices different from each other since both decouple complex functionalities into simple, easy-to-use software.
Can Micro Apps and Micro Services work together?
Microservices are basically services that thread the front end and the back end. The two ends communicate with each with the help of REST API. These are hooded by an application performing tasks that are not visible to the naked eye of the end-user. Microservices, thus, make a developer's work very simple and quick. He can tailor or modify the development of services without disrupting the entire application. When a single service fails, only that skein of thread can be fixed and redeployed without anything else being disturbed.
Microapp is the hood/umbrella of microservices. They have a UI aspect to them. They are one complete software that interacts with the users to perform one task wholly, completely, and efficiently. This single application has a number of services that work in tandem to achieve what it is expected to do. A single microservice, independently, will not make much sense to the user. The end user will have no use for a single microservice. But when a number of microservices are integrated and aggregated under an app to perform a unified objective, then the app interacts with the user for the specified purpose of the microapp.
The microservice architecture is, therefore, what makes the microapp tick. Its major feature, decoupling, makes microapp so lightweight and flexible. This allows for a rapid turnaround when it comes to the identification of bugs and glitches. They can be isolated and treated without compromising the whole application. This is indeed the newest and most cost-effective method for scaling business offerings and solutions. Martin Fowler did the industry a great service when he developed this service-orient architecture model.
The five components that make up the microservices architecture and make all of the above possible are:
- Service mesh
- Service discovery
- API gateway
In recent times, Micro apps have gained immense popularity along with the rise of modern smartphones and the use of heavy applications. These are basically small and simple applications that are lightweight, easy to use, and focused on a single task. It is now obvious why these single-purpose applications are suddenly becoming so popular. It is because individual users and businesses prefer light, no-frills apps that are solely focused on one task over multi-purpose apps that come with the risk of too many bugs, lags, and unforeseeable errors during runtime.
Custom application development is incomplete without related integrations and the latest features that make them all the more user-friendly and dynamic. At CognitiveClouds, we offer a plethora of options for bespoke application development, along with many innovative tools and extensions to enhance your user experience. Contact us today for your next project!