Developing Microservices with Node.js

4.6 (5 reviews total)
By David Gonzalez
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About this book

Microservices architecture is a style of software architecture. As the name suggests, microservicess refers to small services. For a large implementation, this means breaking the system into really small, independent services. Alternative to monolithic architecture (where the entire system is considered as a single big, interwoven segment), microservices approach is getting more and more popular with large, complex applications that have a very long lifecycle, which require changes at regular intervals. Microservices approach allows this type of changes with ease as only a part of the system undergoes changes and change control is easy.

An example of such large system can be an online store—includes user interface, managing product catalog, processing orders, managing customer's account. In a microservices architecture each of these tasks will be divided and into smaller services. Also, these services will be further broken down into independent services—for user interface, there will be separate services for input, output, search bar management, and so on. Similarly, all other tasks can be divided in very small and simple services.

Publication date:
April 2016
Publisher
Packt
Pages
286
ISBN
9781785887406

 

Chapter 1. Microservices Architecture

Microservices are becoming more and more popular. Nowadays, pretty much every engineer on a green field project should be considering using microservices in order to improve the quality of the systems they build. They should know the architectural principles involving such systems. We will expose the difference between microservices and Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA). We will also introduce a great platform to write microservices, Node.js, which will allow us to create high-performing microservices with very little effort.

In this chapter, you will learn about microservices from the architectural point of view:

  • What are microservices?

  • Microservice-oriented architectures

  • Key benefits

  • SOA versus Microservices

  • Why Node.js?

 

Need for microservices


The world of software development has evolved quickly in the past 40 years. One of the key points of this evolution has been the size of these systems. From the days of MS-DOS, we have taken a hundred-fold leap into our present systems. This growth in size creates a need for better ways of organizing code and software components. Usually, when a company grows due to business needs, known as organic growth, the software is organized on a monolithic architecture as it is the easiest and quickest way of building software. After few years (or even months), adding new features becomes harder due to the coupled nature of the created software.

Monolithic software

The natural trend for new high-tech companies such as Amazon or Netflix is building their new software using microservices, which is the ideal scenario: they get a huge advantage of microservices-oriented software (through out this book, you will learn how) in order to scale up their new products without a big effort. The problem is that not all companies can plan their software upfront. Instead of planning, these companies build software based on the organic growth experienced: few software components group business flows by affinity. It is not rare to see companies with two big software components: the user-facing website and the internal administration tools. This is usually known as a monolithic software architecture.

Some of these companies face big problems when trying to scale the engineering teams. It is hard to coordinate teams that build, deploy, and maintain a single software component. Clashes on releases and reintroduction of bugs are a common problem that drains a large chunk of energy from the teams. One of the solution to this problem (it comes with benefits) is to split the monolithic software into microservices so that the teams are able to specialize in a few smaller modules and autonomous and isolated software components that can be versioned, updated, and deployed without interfering with the rest of the systems of the company.

Splitting the monolith into microservices enables the engineering team to create isolated and autonomous units of work that are highly specialized in a given task such as sending e-mails, processing card payments, and so on.

Microservices in the real world

Microservices are small software components that are specialized in one task and work together to achieve a higher-level task. Forget about software for a second and think about how a company works. When someone applies for a job in a company, he applies for a given position: software engineer, system administrator, office manager. The reason for this can be summarized in one word: specialization. If you are used to work as a software engineer, you will get better with the experience and add more value to the company. The fact that you don't know how to deal with a customer, won't affect your performance as that is not your area of expertise and will hardly add any value to your day-to-day work.

Tip

Specialization is often the key to improve the efficiency. Doing one thing and doing it right is one of the mantras of software development.

A microservice is an autonomous unit of work that can execute one task without interfering with other parts of the system, similar to what a job position is to a company. This has a number of benefits that can be used in favor of the engineering team in order to help scale the systems of a company.

Nowadays, hundreds of systems are built using microservices-oriented architectures, as follows:

  • Netflix: This is one of the most popular streaming services, it has built an entire ecosystem of applications that collaborate in order to provide a reliable and scalable streaming system used across the globe.

  • Spotify: This is one of the leading music streaming services in the world, it has built this application using microservices. Every single widget of the application (which is a website exposed as a desktop app using Chromium Embedded Framework) is a different microservice that can be updated individually.

Microservice-oriented architectures

Microservices-oriented architectures have some particularities that makes them desirable for any mid/large-sized company that wants to keep their IT systems resilient and in scale up/down-ready status.

How is it better?

They are not the holy grail of software engineering, but, when handled with care, they become the perfect approach to solve most of the big problems faced by tech-dependent companies.

It is important to keep the key principles of the microservices-oriented architecture's design in mind, such as resilience, composability, elasticity, and so on; otherwise, you could end up with a monolithic application split across different machines that produces problems rather than an elegant solution.

Shortcomings

There is also some criticism around microservices-oriented architectures, as they introduce some problems to deal with, such as latency, traceability, and configuration management that are not present with monolithic-based software. Some of the problems are described as follows:

  • Network latency: Microservices have a distributed nature so that network latency has to be accounted for

  • Operations overhead: More servers indicate more maintenance

  • Eventual consistency: On highly transactional systems, we need to factor into implementation the fact that the data could be inconsistent during a period of time (we will talk about it later in this chapter)

In general, engineers should try to evaluate the pros and cons of this approach and make a decision on whether to use microservices or not in order to fit the business needs.

Microservices-oriented architectures have some particularities that need to be taken into consideration. When a software engineer is writing monolithic software, there are some problems that are completely overlooked due to the nature of the software being built.

For example, imagine that our software needs to send e-mails. In a monolithic software, we would just add the functionality to the core of the application. We might even choose to create a dedicated module to deal with e-mails (which seems like a good idea). Now, imagine that we are creating a microservice and, instead of adding a functionality to a big software artifact, we create a dedicated service that can be deployed and versioned independently. In this case, we will have an extra step that we didn't have to take into consideration, the network latency, to reach the new microservice.

In the preceding example, no matter what approach (monolithic or microservices) you are taking to build the software, is not a big deal; for example, if an e-mail is lost, it is not the end of the world. As per definition, the e-mail delivery is not guaranteed, so our application will still work, although we might receive a few complaints from our customers.

 

Key design principles


There are a few key design principles that need to be taken into consideration when building microservices. There is no golden rule and, as microservices are a recent concept, sometimes there is even a lack of consensus on what practices to follow. In general, we can assume the following design principles:

  • Microservices are business units that model the company processes.

  • They are smart endpoints that contain the business logic and communicate using simple channels and protocols.

  • Microservices-oriented architectures are decentralized by definition. This helps to build robust and resilient software.

Business units, no components

One of the most enjoyable sides of software engineering is creating a new project. This is where you can apply all your creativity, try new architectural concepts, frameworks, or methodologies. Unfortunately, it is not a common situation in a mature company. Usually, what we do is create new components inside the existing software. One of the best design principles that you can follow when creating new components is keeping the coupling as low as possible with the rest of the software, so that it works as an independent unit.

Tip

Keeping a low level of coupling allows a software component to be converted into a microservice with little to no effort.

Consider a real-world example: the application of your company now needs to be able to process payments.

The logical decision here would be creating a new module that knows how to deal with the chosen payment provider (credit cards, PayPal, and so on) and allows us to keep all the payment-related business logic inside of it. Let's define the interface in the following code:

public interface PaymentService {
  PaymentResponse processPayment(PaymentRequest request) throws MyBusinessException;
}

This simple interface can be understood by everyone, but it is the key when moving towards microservices. We have encapsulated all the business knowledge behind an interface so that we could theoretically switch the payment provider without affecting the rest of the application—the implementation details are hidden from the outer world.

The following is what we know until now:

  • We know the method name, therefore, we know how to invoke the service

  • The method could throw an exception of the MyBusinessException type, forcing the calling code to deal with it

  • We know that the input parameter is a PaymentRequest instance

  • The response is a known object

We have created a highly cohesive and loosely coupled business unit. Let's justify this affirmation in the following:

  • Highly cohesive: All the code inside the payments module will do only one thing, that is, deal with payments and all the aspects of calling a third-party service (connection handling, response codes, and so on), such as a debit card processor.

  • Loosely coupled: What happens if, for some reason, we need to switch to a new payment processor? Is there any information bleeding out of the interface? Would we need to change the calling code due to changes in the contract? The answer is no. The implementation of the payment service interface will always be a modular unit of work.

The following diagram shows how a system composed of many components gets one of them (payment service) stripped out into a microservice:

Once this module is implemented, we will be able to process the payments and our monolithic application will have another functionality that could be a good candidate to extract into a microservice.

Now, we can rollout new versions of the payment service, as long as the interface does not change, as well as the contract with the rest of the world (our system or third parties), hasn't changed. That is why it is so important to keep the implementation independent from interfacing, even though the language does not provide support for interfaces.

We can also scale up and deploy as many payment services as we require so that we can satisfy the business needs without unnecessarily scaling the rest of the application that might not be under pressure.

Tip

Downloading the example code

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Smart services, dumb communication pipes

Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is one of the best things to have ever happened to the Internet. Imagine a protocol that was designed to be state-less, but was hacked through the use of cookies in order to hold the status of the client. This was during the age of Web 1.0, when no one was talking about REST APIs or mobile apps. Let's see an example of an HTTP request:

As you can see, it is a human readable protocol that does not need to be explained in order to be understood.

Nowadays, it is broadly understood that HTTP is not confined to be used in the Web, and as it was designed, it is now used as a general purpose protocol to transfer data from one endpoint to another. HTTP is all you need for the communication between microservices: a protocol to transfer data and recover from transmission errors (when possible).

In the past few years, especially within the enterprise world, there has been an effort to create smart communication mechanisms such as BPEL. BPEL stands for Business Process Execution Language, and instead of focusing on communication actions, it focuses on actions around business steps.

This introduces some level of complexity in the communication protocol and makes the business logic of the application bleed into it from the endpoints, causing some level of coupling between the endpoints.

The business logic should stay within the endpoints and not bleed into the communication channel so that the system can be easily tested and scaled. The lesson learned through the years is that the communication layer must be a plain and simple protocol that ensures the transmission of the data and the endpoints (microservices).These endpoints should embed into their implementation the fact that a service could be down for a period of time (this is called resilience, we will talk about this later in this chapter) or the network could cause communication issues.

HTTP usually is the most used protocol when building microservices-oriented software but another interesting option that needs to be explored is the use of queues, such as Rabbit MQ and Kafka, to facilitate the communication between endpoints.

The queueing technology provides a clean approach to manage the communication in a buffered way, encapsulating the complexities of acknowledging messages on highly transactional systems.

Decentralization

One of the major cons of monolithic applications is the centralization of everything on a single (or few) software components and databases. This, more often than not, leads to huge data stores that needs to be replicated and scaled according to the needs of the company and centralized governance of the flows.

Microservices aim for decentralization. Instead of having a huge database, why not split the data according to the business units explained earlier?

Some of the readers could use the transactionality as one of the main reasons for not doing it. Consider the following scenario:

  1. A customer buys an item in our microservices-oriented online shop.

  2. When paying for the item, the system issues the following calls:

    1. A call to the financial system of the company to create a transaction with the payment.

    2. A call to the warehouse system to dispatch the book.

    3. A call to the mailing system to subscribe the customer to the newsletter.

In a monolithic software, all the calls would be wrapped in a transaction, so if, for some reason, any of the calls fails, the data on the other calls won't be persisted in the database.

When you learn about designing databases, one of the first and the most important principles are summarized by the ACID acronym:

  • Atomicity: Each transaction will be all or nothing. If one part fails, no changes are persisted on the database.

  • Consistency: Changes to the data through transactions need to guarantee its consistency.

  • Isolation: The result of concurrent execution of transactions results in a system state that would be obtained if the transactions were executed serially.

  • Durability: Once the transaction is committed, the data persists.

On a microservices-oriented software, the ACID principle is not guaranteed globally. Microservices will commit the transaction locally, but there are no mechanisms that can guarantee a 100% integrity of the global transaction. It would be possible to dispatch the book without processing the payment, unless we factor in specific rules to prevent it.

On a microservices-oriented architecture, the transactionality of the data is not guaranteed, so we need to factor the failure into the implementation. A way to solve (although, workaround is a more appropriate word) this problem is decentralizing the governance and data storage.

When building microservices, we need to embed in the design, the fact that one or more components could fail and degrade the functionality according to the availability of the software.

Let's take a look at the following diagram:

This diagram represents the sequence of execution on a monolithic software. A sequential list of calls that, no matter what, are going to be executed following the ACID principle: either all the calls (transactions) succeed or none of them do.

This is only possible as the framework and database engine designers have developed the concept of transactions to guarantee the transactionality of the data.

When working with microservices, we need to account for what the engineers call eventual consistency. After a partial fail on a transaction, each microservice instance should store the information required to recover the transaction so that the information will be eventually consistent. Following the previous example, if we send the book without processing the payment, the payment gateway will have a failed transaction that someone will process later on, making the data consistent again.

The best way to solve this problem is decentralizing the governance. Every endpoint should be able to take a local decision that affects the global scope of the transaction. We will talk more about this subject in Chapter 3, From the Monolith to Microservices.

Technology alignment

When building a new software, there is always a concept that every developer should keep in mind: standards.

Standards guarantee that your service will be technologically independent so that it will be easy to build the integrations using a different programming language or technologies.

One of the advantages of modeling a system with microservices is that we can choose the right technology for the right job so that we can be quite efficient when tackling problems. When building monolithic software, it is fairly hard to combine technologies like we can do with microservices. Usually, in a monolithic software, we are tied to the technology that we choose in the beginning.

Java Remote Method Invocation (RMI) is one example of the non-standard protocols that should be avoided if you want your system to be open to new technologies. It is a great way of connecting software components written in Java, but the developers will struggle (if not fail) to invoke an RMI method using Node.js. This will tie our architecture to a given language, which from the microservices point of view, will kill one of the most interesting advantages: technology heterogeneity.

How small is too small?

Once we have decided to model our system as a set of microservices, there is always one question that needs an answer: how small is too small?

The answer is always tricky and probably disappointing: it depends.

The right size of the microservices in a given system depends on the structure of the company as well as the ability to create software components that are easily manageable by a small team of developers. It also depends on the technical needs.

Imagine a system that receives and processes banking files; as you are probably aware, all the payments between banks are sent in files with a specific known format (such as Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) for Euro payments). One of the particularities of this type of systems is the large number of different files that the system needs to know how to process.

The first approach for this problem is tackling it from the microservices point of view, separating it from any other service creating a unit of work, and creating one microservice for each type of file. It will enable us to be able to rollout modifications for the existing file processors without interfering with the rest of the system. It will also enable us to keep processing files even though one of the services is experiencing problems.

The microservices should be as small as needed, but keep in mind that every microservice adds an overhead to the operations team that needs to manage a new service. Try to answer the question how small is too small? in terms of manageability, scalability, and specialization. The microservice should be small enough to be managed and scaled up (or down) quickly without affecting the rest of the system, by a single person; and it should do only one thing.

Tip

As a general rule, a microservice should be small enough to be completely rewritten in a sprint.

 

Key benefits


In the previous topic, we talked about what a microservices-oriented architecture is. I also exposed the design principles that I have learned from experience, as well as showed a few benefits of this type of architecture.

Now, it is time to outline these key benefits and show how they will help us to improve the quality of our software, as well as be able to quickly accommodate the new business requirements.

Resilience

Resilience is defined in Wikipedia as the ability of a system to cope with change. I like to think about resilience as the ability of a system to gracefully recover from an exception (transitory hardware failure, unexpectedly high network latency, and so on) or a stress period without affecting the performance of the system once the situation has been resolved.

Although it sounds simple, when building microservices-oriented software, the source of problems broadens due to the distributed nature of the system, sometimes making it hard (or even impossible) to prevent all abnormal situations.

Resilience is the ability to gracefully recover from errors. It also adds another level of complexity: if one microservice is experiencing problems, can we prevent a general failure? Ideally, we should build our system in a way that the service response is degraded instead of resulting in a general failure, although this is not always easy.

Scalability

Nowadays, one of the common problems in companies is the scalability of the systems. If you have worked on a monolithic software before, I am sure that you have experienced capacity problems at some point, alongside the growth of the company.

Usually, these problems are not across all the layers or subsystems of the application. There is always a subsystem or service that performs significantly slower than the rest, causing the entire application to fail if it is not able to cope with the demand.

The following diagram describes how a microservice can be scaled up (two mailing services) without interfering with the rest of the system:

Tip

An example of these weak points in the world of car insurance is the service that calculates the quote for a given list of risk factors. Would it make sense to scale the full application just to satisfy the demand for this particular part? If the answer that you have in mind is no, you are one step closer to embracing microservices. Microservices enable you to scale parts of the system as the demand ramps up for a particular area of it.

If our insurance system was a microservice-oriented software, the only thing needed to resolve the high demand for quote calculations would've been to spawn more instances of the microservice (or microservices) responsible for their calculation. Please bear in mind that scaling up services could add an overhead for operating them.

Technology heterogeneity

The world of software is changing every few months. New languages are coming to the industry as a de facto standard for a certain type of systems. A few years ago, Ruby on Rails appeared at the scene and rose as one of the most used web frameworks for new projects in 2013. Golang (a language created by Google) is becoming a trend nowadays as it combines huge performance with an elegant and simple syntax that can be learned by anyone with some experience in another programming language in a matter of days.

In the past, I have used Python and Java as successful alternatives to write microservices.

Java especially, since Spring Boot was released, is an attractive technology stack to write agile (to write and operate) microservices.

Django, is also a powerful framework on Python to write microservices. Being very similar to Ruby on Rails, it automates database migrations and makes the creation of CRUD (Create Read Update Delete) services an incredibly easy task.

Node.js took the advantage of a well-known language, JavaScript, to create a new server-side stack that is changing the way engineers create new software.

So, what is wrong in combining all of them? In all fairness, it is an advantage: we can choose the right tool for the right job.

Microservices-oriented architectures enable you to do it, as long as the integration technologies are standard. As you learned before, a microservice is a small and independent piece of software that can operate by itself.

The following diagram shows how the microservices hide data storage/gathering, having only the communication points in common—making them a good example of low coupling (one service implementation change won't interfere with any other service):

We have talked about performance earlier. There are always parts of our systems that are under more pressure than others. With modern multicore CPUs, parallel (concurrent) programming could solve some of these performance issues, however, Node.js is not a good language to parallelize tasks. We could choose to rewrite the microservice under pressure using a more appropriate language, such as Erlang, to manage concurrency in a more elegant way. It should take no more than two weeks to do it.

There is a downside to using multiple technologies on the same system: the developers and system administrators need to know all (or a few) of them. Companies that embraced microservices usually try to stick with one core technology (in this book, we will be using Node.js) and some auxiliary technologies (although we will be using Docker to manage the deployments, we could use Capistrano or Fabricator to manage the releases).

Replaceability

Replaceability is the ability to change one component of a system without interfering with how the system behaves.

When talking about software, replaceability comes along with low coupling. We should be writing our microservices in a way that the internal logic will not be exposed to the calling services so that the clients of a given service do not need to know about how it is implemented, just the interface. Let's take a look at the following example. It is written in Java as we only need to see the interface to identify the pitfalls:

public interface GeoIpService {
  /**
   * Checks if an IP is in the country given by an ISO code.
   **/
  boolean isIn(String ip, String isoCode) throws SOAPFaultException;
}

This interface, at first look, is self explanatory. It checks whether a given IP is in a given country and throws a SOAPFaultException, which is a big problem.

If we build the client that consumes this service, factoring into their logic, capture, and processing of the SoapFaultException, we are exposing internal implementation details to the outer world and making it hard to replace the GeoIpService interface. Also, the fact that we are creating a service related to a part of our application logic is an indication of the creation of a bounded context: a highly cohesive service or set of services that work together to achieve one purpose.

Independence

No matter how hard we try, the human brain is not designed to solve complex problems. The most efficient mode of functioning for the human brain is one thing at the time so that we break down complex problems into smaller ones. Microservices-oriented architectures should follow this approach: all the services should be independent and interact through the interface up to a point that they can be developed by different groups of engineers without any interaction, aside from agreeing the interfaces. This will enable a company adopting microservices to scale up, or down, the engineering teams, depending on the business needs, making the business agile in responding to peaks of demand or periods of quietness.

Why is replaceability important?

In a previous section, we talked about the right size of a microservice. As a general rule of thumb, a team should be able to rewrite and deploy a microservice in a sprint. The reason behind it is the technical debt.

I would define technical debt as the deviation from the original technical design to deliver the expected functionality within a planned deadline. Some of these sacrifices or wrong assumptions often lead to poorly written software that needs to be completely refactored or rewritten.

In the preceding example, the interface is exposing to the outer world the fact that we are using SOAP to call a web service, but we will need to change the code on the client side as a REST client has certainly nothing to do with SOAP exceptions.

Easy to deploy

Microservices should be easy to deploy.

Being software developers, we are well aware that a lot of things could go wrong, preventing a software from being deployed.

Microservices, as stated before, should be easy to deploy for a number of reasons, as stated in the following list:

  • Small amount of business logic (remember the two weeks re-write from scratch rule of thumb) leading into simpler deployments.

  • Microservices are autonomous units of work, so upgrading a service is a contained problem on a complex system. No need to re-deploy the entire system.

  • Infrastructure and configuration on microservices architectures should be automated as much as possible. Later in the book, we will learn how to use Docker to deploy microservices and what are the benefits over the traditional deployment techniques are.

 

SOA versus microservices


Service-Oriented Architectures (SOA) has been around for a number of years. SOA is a great principle to design software. They are self-contained components providing services to other components. As we agreed before, it is all about maintaining low coupling on the different modules of the system as if it was a puzzle so that we can replace the pieces without causing a big impact on the overall system.

In principle, SOA looks very similar to microservices architectures. So what is the difference?

Microservices are fine-grained SOA components. In other words, a single SOA component can be decomposed in a number of microservices that can work together in order to provide the same level of functionality:

Tip

Microservices are fine-grained SOA components. They are lightweight services with a narrow focus.

Another difference between microservices and SOA is the technologies used for interconnecting and writing the services.

J2EE is a technology stack that was designed to write SOA architectures as it enforced enterprise standards. Java Naming and Directory Interface, Enterprise Java Beans, and Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) were the ecosystems where SOA applications were built and maintained. Although ESB is a standard, very few engineers who graduated after 2005 have heard about ESB, even fewer have used it, and nowadays the modern frameworks such as Ruby on Rails do not even consider such complex pieces of software.

On the other hand, microservices enforce the use of standards (such as HTTP) that are broadly known and broadly interoperable. We can choose the right language or tool to build a component (microservice) following one of the key benefits explained earlier in this chapter, in the Technology heterogeneity section.

Aside from the technology stack and the size of the services, there is an even bigger difference between SOA and microservices: the domain model. Earlier in this chapter, we have talked about decentralization. Decentralization of the governance, but, moreover, decentralization of the data. In a microservices-based software, every microservice should store its own data locally, isolating the domain models to a single service; whereas, on an SOA oriented-software, the data is usually stored in a few big databases and the services share the domain models.

 

Why Node.js?


A few years ago, I didn't believe in Node.js. To me, it was a trend more than a real tool to solve problems… JavaScript in the server? That didn't look right. In all fairness, I didn't even like JavaScript. Then, the modern frameworks such as jQuery or Angular.js came to the rescue. They solved one of the problems, which was the cross-browser compatibility. Where before we needed to factor in at least three different browsers, after jQuery all this logic was nicely encapsulated in a library so that we didn't need to worry about compatibility as long as we followed the jQuery documentation.

Then, JavaScript became more popular. Suddenly, all the internal tools were written with Single-Page Application (SPA) frameworks with a heavy usage of JavaScript, therefore, the majority of developers nowadays, one way or another, are proficient in JavaScript.

Then, someone decided to take JavaScript out of the browser, which was a great idea. Rhino, Node.js, and Nashorn are examples of runtimes that can execute standalone JavaScript. Some of them can even interact with the Java code, enabling the developer to import Java classes into a JavaScript program, which gives you the access to an endless set of frameworks already written in Java.

Let's focus on Node.js. Node.js is the perfect candidate for microservices-oriented architectures for a number of reasons, as stated in the following list:

  • Easy to learn (although it can be hard to master)

  • Easy to scale

  • Highly testable

  • Easy to deploy

  • Dependency management through npm

  • There are hundreds of libraries to integrate with the majority of standard protocols

These reasons, along with others that we will develop in the following chapters, make Node.js the perfect candidate for building solid microservices.

API aggregation

Seneca is the framework that I have chosen for development in the following chapters. One of the most attractive characteristics of Seneca is API aggregation.

API aggregation is an advanced technique to compose an interface by aggregating different functionalities (plugins, methods, and so on) to it.

Let's take a look at the following example:

var express = require('express');
var app = express();

app.get('/sayhello', function (req, res) {
  res.send('Hello World!');
});
app.get('/saygoodbye', function(req, res) {
  res.send('Bye bye!');
});

var server = app.listen(3000, function () {
  var host = server.address().address;
  var port = server.address().port;
  console.log('App listening at http://%s:%s', host, port);
});

The preceding example uses Express, a very popular web framework for Node.js. This framework is also built around the API aggregation technique. Let's take a look at the fourth and seventh lines. In these lines, the developer registers two methods that are to be executed when someone hits the URLs /sayhello and /saygoodbye with a GET request. In other words, the application is composed of different smaller and independent implementations that are exposed to the outer world on a single interface, in this case, an app listening on the 3000 port.

In the following chapters, I will explain why this property is important and how to take advantage of it when building (and scaling) microservices.

The future of Node.js

JavaScript was first designed to be a language executed in the web browser. For those who worked or studied, using C/C++ was very familiar and that was the key for its adoption as a standard for the dynamic manipulation of documents in Web 2.0. Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX) was the detonator for JavaScript growth. Different browsers had different implementations of the request objects so that the developers had a hard time to write a cross-browser code.

The lack of standards led to the creation of many frameworks that encapsulated the logic behind AJAX, making easy-to-write cross-browser scripts.

JavaScript is a script language. It was not designed to be object oriented, neither was it designed to be the language of choice for large applications as the code tends to get chaotic and it is hard to enforce standards across different companies on how the code should be laid out. Every single company where I worked has different best practices and some of them are even contradictory.

European Computer Manufacturers Association (ECMA) came to the rescue. ECMAScript 6, the next standard for ECMA languages (JavaScript, ActionScript, Rhino, and so on) introduces the concept of classes, inheritance, collections, and a number of interesting features that will make the development of JavaScript software easier and more standard than the actual V8 specification.

One of these features that I consider more interesting is the introduction of the class keyword that allows us to model our JavaScript software with objects.

At the moment, the majority of browsers support a large number of these features, but when it comes to Node.js, only a few of them are implemented by default and some of them are implemented by passing special flags to the interpreter (harmony flags).

In this book, I will try to avoid the ECMAScript 6 features, sticking to the V8 specification as it is widely known by the majority of developers and, once someone knows JavaScript V8, it is fairly easy to ramp up on ECMAScript 6.

 

Summary


In this chapter, we studied the key concepts around microservices, as well as the best practices to be followed when designing high-quality software components towards building robust and resilient software architectures that enable us to respond quickly to the business needs.

You have also learned the key benefits such as the possibility of using the right language for the right service (technology heterogeneity) on the microservices-oriented architectures as well as some of the pitfalls that could make our life harder, such as the overhead on the operational side caused by the distributed nature of the microservices-oriented architectures.

Finally, we discussed why Node.js is a great tool for building microservices, as well as how we could benefit from JavaScript to build high-quality software components through techniques like API aggregation.

In the following chapters, we will be developing the concepts discussed in this chapter, with code examples and further explanation about the topics I have learned over the years.

As explained before, we will focus on the V8 version of JavaScript, but I will provide some hints on how to easily write upgradeable components to embrace ECMAScript 6.

About the Author

  • David Gonzalez

    David Gonzalez is an enthusiastic engineer and author of a book called Developing Microservices with Node.js (microservices don't work without platform automation).He is a Google Developer Expert (a nomination from Google to certain experts in several areas) in Kubernetes (GKE), who enjoys being pushed out of his comfort zone in order to sharpen his skills. Java, Node.js, Python, and DevOps—as well as a holistic approach to security—are part of the skill set that has helped him deliver value across different start-ups and corporations. Nowadays, he is a consultant at nearForm, enabling companies to deliver the best possible solution to their IT problems or proposals, as well as an avid speaker at conferences such as Rebel Con and Google I/O Extended, among others.

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Latest Reviews

(5 reviews total)
Super Buch und schnelle Kaufabwicklung
Interesante combinacion de conceptos. Es un libro buenisimo para inciarte en microservicios. Los ejemplos son sencillos y faciles de seguir. Quiza algo mas de DevOps no vendria mal pero muy contento con la compra.
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