Transforming JavaScript at the edge

One of the greatest challenges of building for the Web is the plethora of devices, operating systems and browser combinations that the product must support. How do you move this universal platform forward whilst retaining compatibility with older setups, which often still represent a significant percentage of the market? At its core, the technology of the Web has evolved quite conservatively over the years – we still have HTTP requests with verbs, headers and body. However, the applications that we build on top of them are as complex as ever, not only on the server, where the complexity of web applications has traditionally lived, but also on the client, with front-end applications handling astonishing amounts of business logic and data access operations.

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Taking the guesswork out of web compatibility

The most powerful aspect of the web is also what makes it so challenging to build for: its universality. When you create a website, you’re writing code that needs to be understood by a plethora of browsers on different devices and operating systems. It’s difficult. To make the web evolve in a sane and sustainable way for both users and developers, browser vendors work together to standardize new features, whether it’s a new HTML element, CSS property, or JavaScript API. But different vendors have different priorities, resources, and release cycles — so it’s very unlikely that a new feature will land on all the major browsers at once.

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If you were in my shoes

If you follow me on social media, you probably already know that DADI is running a crowdsale event to fund our vision for a decentralised fog network in support of our microservices suite. Even though the sale doesn’t start until the 22nd, it gained a phenomenal amount of attention from day one, and the number of people that registered their interest has heavily surpassed our most ambitious predictions. Yesterday, the community flocked to various channels to show grave concerns about our whitepaper, claiming that we plagiarised it from a company called SONM. This post is my view – not DADI’s – on the matter.

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Microservices + Node.js

We covered the basic principles of a microservices architecture, but we’ll also look into the practicalities of implementing it from a technical standpoint. As we’ve seen, microservices are agnostic of technology, so you could use any programming language or environment to build them. In this article we’ll see why JavaScript — and the Node.js environment in particular — is a good candidate.

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Microservices: not a free lunch

By now you should have a fairly good understanding of what microservices are and the problems they solve. Many organisations, big and small, have done incredibly positive transformations off the back of this architecture. But there is also the other side of the coin and it would be irresponsible to write about the wonders of microservices without also covering the complications they can bring. When implemented poorly, or when done for the wrong reasons, this architecture can create more problems than the ones it solves and quickly result in disaster.

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Microservices vs. Service-Oriented Architecture

At this point, you might rightfully argue that a lot of the principles we used to characterise microservices resemble the Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), a software design pattern that gained immense popularity in the early 2000s. Wikipedia defines SOA as: A service-oriented architecture (SOA) is a style of software design where services are provided to the other components by application components, through a communication protocol over a network.

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The principles of microservices

In the previous article, we introduced the concept of microservices and established a parallel with the traditional monolithic approach. In this article, we’ll continue with that comparison whilst we cover the key principles behind a microservices architecture and how they can help an organisation build better software systems.

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Introduction to microservices

Designing software systems is hard. When I first mastered a programming language, I started to feel confident about writing code and even proud of how efficient, elegant and flexible I could make it. But little did I know that writing software is so much more than that.

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Static API generator

When I first started building websites, the proposition was quite basic: take content, which may or may not be stored in some form of database, and deliver it to people’s browsers as HTML pages. Over the years, countless products used that simple model to offer all-in-one solutions for content management and delivery on the web. Fast-forward a decade or so and developers are presented with a very different reality. With such a vast landscape of devices consuming digital content, it’s now imperative to consider how content can be delivered not only to web browsers, but also to native mobile applications, IoT devices, and other mediums yet to come.

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Explain it like I'm five: fog computing

Have you ever thought about what happens when you type an address in your web browser? Like, what actually happens behind the scenes so that a page with the content you’re looking for lands on your screen? Where is that content coming from? As you might know, the Internet is just a massive group of interconnected computers, each of which is identified by a unique address (much like your home address). When you type the address to a website in your browser, you’re sending a message to the computer that lives on that address, asking it to send you the files with the content you’re after.

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