JavaScript in the Enterprise Application World

Over the previous few years, much needed scrutiny has actually been offered on how JavaScript can most optimally be made use of in the enterprise. That examination has actually been especially intense in the light of a set of current advancements that can be distilled down to 3 particular elements.

Several Devices & Responsive Design: The explosion of mobile phones and tablets suggests that terms such as “screen size” and “resolution” are hot subjects. Not can you assume that your users will have the exact same, or even similar, experiences when dealing with applications you create. You require to consider the devices your applications will target and examine technologies that in some way deal with those different experiences, either hiding or loading content as appropriate for the devices you’re targeting.

The Browser Is Everywhere: Where Java developers with the “compose as soon as, run anywhere” mantra presumed that, in time, the Java virtual machine would control across all devices, it now appears, extremely plainly, that– a minimum of for frontend development– the browser is merely everywhere, on all the devices that are new and shiny, i.e., tablets and phones, as well as on all the standard devices, i.e., PCs and laptops. That does not suggest, of course, that Java has no role to play in business reasoning and backend code however, for a big subset of applications, the popularity of the web browser suggests that it is the perfect target for producing user interfaces for interacting with data, any place that data might be.

Single Page Applications (SPA): A SPA is a web application or website that fits on a single websites, aiming to provide a more coherent and fluid experience for users, similar to that supplied by the desktop. Increasingly, development for the kinds of use cases laid out above are getting back to the client, i.e., as much is done in your area on the device as possible, as opposed to the server-based approach that most Java developers have actually been utilized to over several years.

The recent-ish developments above, i.e., recent in the sense that they have actually been accompanying increasing speed over the previous 5 years or so, are definitely interconnected with each other. With a minimal screen size on small devices, which remain to be increasingly popular to such a level that the surge of their appeal can be seen to be continuous, it makes good sense to concentrate on Day spas, which need much less space than the earlier web designs that concentrated on several pages, lots of clicking and navigation from page to page, and which required more network bandwidth. Faster navigation is a demand when you have to assume that your user is more than likely to be handling the battery life of the device that they’re using to access your application. The best navigation experience is absolutely no navigation, i.e., the best solution is to provide the entire application withing a single page.

In this brave new world, designed above, here are 10 suggestions or understandings to assist Java developers going into the JavaScript ecosystem, in certain if their work is focused on “the enterprise”, i.e., huge applications that have to be scalable and maintainable in time.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Though there is now a large subset of applications that are becoming smaller sized and more concentrated, take care to– as always– think of your business demands prior to selecting the technologies you’ll use to please them. Do not presume you require to toss away everything you’ve got and rebuild everything in the web browser. There continues to be a requirement for the desktop and Java continues to be a solution in that space. Not everybody accesses and deals with their data by means of a mobile phone. Big applications for industries such as air traffic control service remain to exist and it would be ridiculous to produce a mobile application for monitoring and managing planes landing and taking off from airports. Your users need a large resolution to do that, if they wish to do that safely. In other words, do not presume that the new and shiny tools and technologies are appropriate to each and every scenario. Take an appearance at what your users are actually doing and what they actually require. Do not compel the browser on your users if their usage will not gain from it.

If you’re real to Agile concepts, you’ll learn from your users what they actually require, as opposed to what your management wants, or what you’re assuming your users think they want. Keep in mind that though there is now a new set of technologies available and new methods and so on, these are not so much replacing those that currently exist– instead, they’re supplementing them, including new systems and options for various kinds of users to interact with data. For example, instead of presuming you need to be rewriting an air traffic control system, you need to rather think about whether the existing system can be supplemented by a mobile app that sends out cautions and other alerts as required, because the screen size of these sort of enterprise applications will constantly stay crucial.

Think of Framework vs. Library

Angular appears to be so popular right now that it is moving towards being a de-facto JavaScript standard. In certain, the majority of Java developers one encounters who are explore JavaScript begin with Angular, since that’s where all the buzz is, still, after several years of JavaScript frameworks becoming progressively popular. Where there remains to be a significant amount of work done with Backbone, Knockout, Ember, and so on, Angular clearly dominates and does not appear to be dissipating at all.

Part of the factor for this is that Angular is a framework, not a library. It supplies a set of related technologies, in specific in the testing space (e.g., Protractor), beyond the framework itself, i.e., an ecosystem of technologies, developed by the exact same set of developers and community, and there’s a continuous drive for the framework to expand with more and better related structures that are suitable with it. A drawback is that users of Angular are more or less locked into the Angular method of working and if that ecosystem falls over for whatever factor they’re basically stuck. An alternative route is to be very particular about technology demands, e.g., do you like the MVC pattern? Then choose Backbone. Do you wish to directly concentrate on two-way databinding and nothing else? Then choose Knockout. Do you want to focus a lot on UI components? Then choose Ember or React. This library-focused technique spreads your bets, though does imply that you need to put the pieces of the puzzle together yourself, rather of letting Angular do it for you.

Examine Enterprise Frameworks

A sure indication of the growing maturity of the JavaScript environment is that the big companies and corporations want a piece of it. For instance, have a look at DoubleClick by Google, the Salesforce1 Platform by SalesForce, SpectINGular by ING, and MobileFirst Platform by IBM.

In each case, a set of existing structures is taken as a starting point and business-specific elements are included. ING made waves a year or more ago at Devoxx and other conferences, where they demonstrated how a variety of public ING sites, i.e., for individual banking and so on, are now being developed in JavaScript, together with HTML and CSS, and associated technologies. Best practices and complete blown GUI elements, revealed in JavaScript, are made openly offered by these companies, in an attempt to produce neighborhoods around the subset of technologies that constitute their internal business solutions. Open source plays a role here too, with all or parts of these options being offered on GitHub.

See big corporations and see what they’re doing with JavaScript. A minimum of business options using JavaScript have a life-span that is longer than their underlying component parts. Seeing where the corporations are going and tailoring your options to match them might be a course to consider smaller sized organizations entering the JavaScript landscape.


Whenever a new language on the JVM is revealed, the key feature that is trumpeted is its built-in modularity (“unlike Java itself, of course”). Having the ability to arrange code into significant structures is something that a huge subset of developers plainly finds interesting and, even, crucial. For many years, OSGi has been the de-facto standard in this space for Java developers. The only option has been for those developing applications on the NetBeans Platform, where the NetBeans module system, extremely comparable to OSGi, is generally used.

Naturally, not only does JavaScript not have an integrated module system, it does not even have a package system. For the scenarios where JavaScript is ending up being dominant, that might be great. However, if you’re creating some sort of enterprise application, i.e., large scale, with issues about maintainability and so forth, it is excellent to understand that JavaScript does, certainly, have module systems at its disposal. Plainly dominant at this stage appears to be RequireJS, though Browserify is also in this space. Investigate both and see which fits your purposes.

Examine Responsive CSS vs. Responsive JavaScript

CSS3 is everything about media inquiries. While the CSS2 specification supplies the capability to use CSS rules dynamically based upon media types, the CSS3 spec goes even more and presents media questions. A media query makes up a media type and a set of expressions, which check for certain conditions of media features. For instance, media inquiries can inspect the current size of the display screen. Media inquiries can then be utilized to show or conceal content based on the specified conditions, such as screen size.

Nevertheless, something intriguing can be seen when you use tools such as the Chrome Connector plugin in NetBeans IDE. With these type of tools, you see that when you have a media query that applies to, for example, as shown below, the width of the screen being less than 480, the related content, such as a logo or other image, is still packed.

The DOM includes the elements and characteristics, although the media query conceals it. Picture that you might dynamically switch content based upon breakpoints and data qualities specified in your JavaScript– which is what Response.js and Foundation Interchange are all about. Both supply a responsive JavaScript solution, avoiding the circumstance where JavaScript libraries and other artifacts would be loaded even though they ‘d never ever be made use of, such as making it possible for a Google Maps viewer to be switched from the application, instead of simply being concealed from the HTML view, whenever you choose to exclude it, ultimately conserving resources, such as battery life, download time, and so on.

Let’s quickly have a look at one of these solutions. Foundation is a UI framework, comparable to Twitter Bootstrap and Angular UI. In the 5.0 release of Foundation, Interchange was provided. Interchange is responsive JavaScript, permitting you to do powerful things on the customer side, within the HTML view of your application. Predefined resolution markers are available, i.e., “small”, “medium”, and “huge”, each which you can map to an HTML file, as shown below.

Thanks to the above code, automatically, when the screen size modifications, Foundation Interchange loads or unloads (instead of showing/hiding) the proper piece.

HTML is Now an Application Framework

You might not have actually noticed it– HTML is now an application framework, i.e., it supplies full-blown component-oriented solutions. In the HTML5 requirements, the decision has been made to make sure that all new features are based on HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, following the new Shadow DOM specification, which the need for external plugins, such as Flash, must be decreased. Moreover, top-level functions, such as error handling and device self-reliance are 2 other indications that something big has been going here.

For example, did you know that you can develop a code completion box, i.e., “intellisense” functionality in HTML?

Here’s all the HTML for the above, with Knockout utilized to pack data from JavaScript. Bear in mind of the “list” characteristic in the input aspect, which connects the input element to the datalist component below it. Both the “list” quality and the “datalist” component are new in HTML5.

Far from being a basic markup language, the basis of a fullblown multimedia experience is now available by means of HTML, with a specific applicability to applications, animations, games, and films. New HTML media types have actually been presented, such as “audio” and “video”, as well as new semantic markup, such as “short article” and “header”, together with new recognition qualities (e.g., “required” and “pattern”) and input types (e.g., “email”, “url”, “color”). These new requirements are implemented, or planned to be carried out, by all internet browsers. Know these new capabilities and begin to see HTML in a new way, as an application framework, if you have not gotten these new improvements currently.

JavaScript is the Assembly Language of the Web

Simply because JavaScript is the language of the internet browser does not indicate it is the language that you have to code in. If JavaScript, as a language for programming, is not for you, explore the transpilers that are offered, as well as associated solutions. For instance, take a look at CoffeeScript, TypeScript, Vaadin, and DukeScript, which are just a few of the lots of technologies out there that provide one solution or another to streamline and tighten coding work in JavaScript (i.e., CoffeeScript and TypeScript) or that let you work completely in Java (i.e., Vaadin and DukeScript, compare their ‘hi world’ scenarios here) while letting the framework, in one method or another, produce the code needed for running the application in the browser.

Find Abstractions

Unless you’re delighted coding directly in JavaScript, HTML, and CSS, search for abstractions on top of these low level technologies. I.e., find tools, such as Emmet for HTML, SASS and LESS for CSS, and CoffeeScript (and other technologies discussed above) for JavaScript.

Especially for Java developers, we who have been ruined by having one single language (not even XML any longer, since we’ve been given Java annotations to deal with), it helps to have tools and technologies that hide that multiple languages need to be made use of, with the associated context changing and efficiency loss as a result.

Write Once, Never Touch Again

Frequently, the applications written in this space do not have to be maintainable. Or, maintainability indicates something different to what we understood in the past. The business case is frequently exceptionally slim–“compose an app to sell my product”–“let the user reserve a room in a hotel”. The team of developers– about 2 or 3 in total– deals with the app, delivers it, and after that carries on to the next app. When there’s a new feature request, 6 months later on or so, a new app is assembled from scratch, with the new version of all the technologies originally used or their replacements.

OK, so this is not the enterprise, is it? Or is it the new enterprise? It’s not the enterprise as we understand it with long development cycles, though it suits very closely with the ideas of agile development. The technologies and structures in the JavaScript environment are perfect for these kinds of apps, a far remove from the big scale complex and scientific apps that Java developers might be familiar with. Domain knowledge is a thin layer that everyone understands, e.g., everybody understands the standard parameters of a hotel reservation system. Time to market is rapid and the lifecycle of the app matches that cycle.

Volatility of Ecosystem is OK

A typical “feature” of the JavaScript landscape is that just as you’ve discovered a new technology it will (a) be supplanted by one of its competitors, (b) end up being irreparably awful after all, (c) not work with one of the other technologies you’re using, (d) die, (e) a combination of the above. If this type of volatility is an issue for your scenario, don’t touch the JavaScript landscape. Stay with the technologies you understand and the solutions that have actually stood the test of time.

But ask yourself whether the volatility of the JavaScript environment is really a problem for you. Is it only an issue due to the fact that you’re not made use of to it? Once more, many applications developed in this domain have a life span of about a year or 2, which matches the rack life of a lot of frameworks and other technologies in the JavaScript landscape. Few Angular users cared all that much that Angular 2.0 had not been, initially anyway, backward compatible, because many of them were going to be rewording their apps anyhow by the time that Angular 2.0 will be launched. On the other hand, if you’re developing an app that should be quite much the exact same 10 years from now, or you do not have the time and resources to continually tinker and upgrade your system whenever new tools and technologies are launched, perhaps the JavaScript ecosystem may not be the best fit for your requirements.

As can be seen from the above list of factors to think about, the JavaScript ecosystem is not for everybody. Furthermore, the JavaScript ecosystem may be somewhat various to what you’ve assumed it to be. It’s an odd and crazy place, cowboy land, really. It’s a fascinating place and an ingenious location. Development and modification is something we, as Java developers, have actually not had all that much of, which is fine for stability, though less fine if you’re ready for something new. Saddle up and ride into it, Java developers everywhere. However, be alerted, there’s a cactus or two and more bears and wolves than you may initially have thought!


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