Micro-Apps: The Minions of App-Development
Application development has been going through a rough patch for quite some time now. Since its birth in 1960s with the Assembler code, app-development has reached a point where it faces complaints of bloated projects, way-over-the-budget and no-shipping. The next era of apps will adapt to respond effectively to these challenges. What mutation would app-development bring about to answer to these issues? The micro-wave of apps, services and flows is the rising star in our room of adaptations to respond effectively to the issues.
The Micro-Trend for Macro-Changes
The prime focus of micro-wave development is following the bottoms-up approach: we find simple solutions for complex problems, without compromising on the immensity and quality of our needs. While micro-services allow the easy-integration of multiple systems, micro flows will permit users to finish tasks across systems without difficulties. Lastly, micro apps would showcase the services in an intuitive interface. This way of putting together apps, services and flows would help to provide instant relief to the problems that SaaS currently faces. In this article, we will walk through the three dimensions of the micro-wave.
Interoperability of apps has been a sacred part of the practice of application development. The 1990s began with dense and top-down infrastructures like IIOP/COBRA and moved on to become Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) in the 2000s. Requiring directives and coordination across the enterprise, SOA brought with it a series of challenges of payload policies. Incompatibilities (particularly those at the authentication layer) were also a major problem with SOA.
SOA has been a success with very few companies (GE being one of them). Most companies have a red-marked track record with SOA due to issues of organization-wide implementations. Even those that manage to begin with it face constant challenges via uncertain acquisitions and diversions.
Micro-services have become a trend over the last few years. They are atomic and self-contained services that carry out a single operation, on the back-end system (like extracting a service record). The most-used interface for a micro-service is JSON/REST/HTTPS matrix. The authentication process is extremely simple with use of API keys.
What makes micro-services an attractive option is that they are very easy to build, implement and share. Already-present and new applications can call internal and external micro-services easily. The commonly reported issues with the micro-services are that they are not scalable and cannot be easily discovered/shared. These can be solved when the enterprise allots a policy for the same, instead of taking up weighty technology.
Comparison of SOA and Micro-Service
While SOA is implemented throughout the enterprise, micro-service is confined to a specific service (atomic). SOA is dependent on SOAP while micro-service works on JSON/REST. Layered authentication is found within SOA while micro-service works with simple authentication.
Apps are today the face of companies, held in the palms of their users. With so many applications pooling into the market daily, enterprises rush for immediate solutions like applying features to the app in order to retain the existing and to attract new customers. However, this bloats up the application, making it a place difficult to navigate.
The age of micro-apps is time for apps that are intelligent and sensitive to the context. Micro-apps breed within a spectrum of fertile and dynamic platforms like FB Messenger and Slack bots to the minions of Google (the weather and flight answer-boxes). All of these micro-apps apply themselves to a single task and make use of a fusion of user-interfaces and the context for the same.
Micro-apps are created on HTML. They can dynamically load by sidestepping on the app stores and loading instantly into the already-present tool like FB Messenger and Slack. Though there are limitations to the communication skills of bots, the capacity to load the micro-apps directly into the messengers and the search results is gaining support.
Comparison of an app and micro-app:
While an app has many features and is native to iOS and Android, micro-apps are oriented towards a single task and are based on HTML. Moreover, while you have to install the apps from app-store, you can install the micro-app ad-hoc.
The top-down automation of business processes are generally implemented a
t organizations using the Business Process Management (BPM) tools. Such tools are considerably expensive and can take a long period for thorough implementation. The workflows created through BPM make use of both human communication and machine-to-machine transport for working well.
Micro-flows entered the playground through pioneers like Zapier and IFTTT. These micro-flows were generally used for moving data from one machine to the other. For instance, consider movement of a Salesforce closed deal to Zendesk. Micro-flows are becoming a critical member in the SaaS ecosystem since they tend to use realm-specific language (appropriate for programmers) while being able to carry the complexity of the BPM solutions.
We can see a shiny potential for micro-flows within human-to-machine communication. The way users talk to the enterprise software can be changed to make user experience smoother and simpler. For instance, through micro-flows, we can sidestep the legacy systems to let simple actions like approvals get through. Today workers complain heavily of legacy IT systems that have not undergone upgrading for ages. With micro-flows, workers can easily interact with many systems at the same time via a single interface.
Comparison between Business Process Management and Micro-Flow:
While BPM involves many steps, machine-to-machine interaction and a system for records, micro-flows work through singular steps, have human-to-machine communication and integrate the existing systems.
With the triad of micro-services, micro-apps and micro-flows, we see an army of minions working diligently to manage the problems that the macro-masters are facing. If we can manage to create an efficient army of such micro-waves, we could be watching the fall of challenges and rise of SaaS again. Let’s let micro be micros and not push them to grow up!
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