How to Optimize Development Efficiency When You’re Building a Super App
This article delves into the advantages of the super app modular architecture, covering key elements like third-party contributions and team collaboration. It highlights the importance of optimizing development and fostering a sustainable architecture, while emphasizing the importance of effective communication and collaboration for a seamless end product.
The modular architecture of super apps translates into significant benefits for their creators. Enriching your product portfolio with a super app ultimately means greater flexibility, more sustainable growth, and increased development efficiency. However, to enjoy these benefits, you need to plan the development process well – and in this article, we’re going to show you how to take care of that.
We’ll take a closer look at two factors that have the potential to boost the efficiency of your super app development process:
- preparing for third-party contributions,
- laying the foundations for smooth teamwork.
If you’re looking for practical tips on developing a super app, check out this guide to super app development and our super-app-showcase case study. For now, though, let’s focus on the organizational side of this process.
Preparing your super app for third-party contributions
Super apps’ architecture enables third-party contributions to be seamlessly integrated into an app. In practice, it means you’re capable of developing certain features faster and more efficiently by leveraging the expertise and capabilities of an external team.
Laying down requirements
First and foremost, you need to set out requirements for the mini apps. It is absolutely necessary to specify what version of React and React Native the mini app is supposed to use, and this requirement needs to be kept in sync with the host app at all times.
If the mini app is going to use a native module, it is also necessary to declare this upfront and add it to the host app to ensure that everything works as expected. It might be useful to establish a communication channel when a native dependency needs to be added to the host app so that the super app team can quickly approve or reject the proposed change.
Besides the setup requirements, it's also a good idea to provide a design rule book or a shared UI components library that the third-party developers must use when building their features so that the app is coherent as a whole.
Optimizing developer experience
To provide a great development experience that will minimize integration issues and possibly enforce some requirements mentioned above, consider creating and exposing a sandbox environment that closely resembles your host app. This way, the team working on the mini app can ensure everything is well-aligned. It proves particularly useful when the host app is being upgraded to a new version of React Native, allowing each team to independently upgrade their respective mini apps.
If you want your third-party mini-app to be consistent with the overall app's design and/or communicate with the host app, you should consider creating an SDK in the form of a dependency added to the mini-app.
An SDK can provide some common components, such as loading indicators or navigation headers. It can also expose methods to access the host app’s state (e.g., redux selectors) or even basic tools for developers like an ESLint preset. Remember that the SDK contents depend on the details of your setup.
Last but not least, don’t forget that the mobile environment differs from the web. If you plan on integrating big new functionality with your app, you need to go through the App Store or Google Play Store review process again to audit that functionality. Omitting this step may result in your app being removed from the store altogether.
As you can see, enabling third-party contributions in your super app will require some effort on your end. We haven’t mentioned here the delivery-related matters, as they’re even more specific to your own setup. Still, the ideas discussed in this section will be helpful if you decide to outsource some of the feature work to external teams.
Fostering collaboration between teams working on your super app
The super app approach enables teams to split their work while maintaining a coherent application, which is critical when multiple teams work on different parts of a single application or system.
Respective squads can independently develop and deploy parts of an application as mini apps: standalone modules that provide specific functionality or user interface components. They can be hosted and deployed autonomously (to a certain extent) while seamlessly integrating into the larger super app. In day-to-day work, this allows teams to collaborate more efficiently by reducing inter-team dependencies and enabling them to focus on their specific areas of expertise. In this part of the article, we explain how to make this teamwork as smooth as possible.
The most common trend when splitting a monolith app into micro frontends is to divide the app into separate features. Separating the app screen by screen is overkill and should be avoided. Instead, we recommend identifying the core functional areas or features that can be developed and managed independently.
This will create a more sustainable architecture, allowing for more effortless scalability and efficient development cycles. By focusing on feature-based divisions, teams can optimize work, reduce communication overhead, and streamline project organization.
Lightweight host app
To ensure a seamless developer experience, creating a lightweight version of the host app is advisable solely for integration purposes. This stripped-down version should provide a basic scaffolding, enabling mini apps to be embedded in the same context as the host app. Keeping this version up to date with the host app is crucial, particularly with regard to dependencies and the component tree.
Although this may seem like a labor-intensive process, maintaining the lightweight version is typically only necessary when core changes occur in the host app, such as dependency upgrades or interface changes. This approach allows developers to test and debug their mini apps more efficiently in an environment that closely resembles the final super app, promoting better collaboration and minimizing integration issues.
Another optional strategy for managing super app development is organizing the codebase into a monorepo. By keeping all code in one central repository, teams can more easily share code, enforce consistent coding standards, and manage dependencies between projects.
Nevertheless, managing a monorepo can be difficult, as it requires careful attention to how different projects interact with one another. Bear in mind that the independence granted by Module Federation could be limited when adopting a monorepo, as it brings the codebase together.
To make the most of a monorepo, teams should establish clear guidelines for how code is structured and shared, leverage automation for streamlining development and testing processes, and maintain a strong focus on communication and collaboration across the entire team.
Building a super app using Re.Pack and Module Federation can be a complex endeavor, with numerous aspects to consider when dividing work among development teams. To successfully navigate this process, it is crucial to carefully evaluate various strategies and tailor them to the project's unique requirements.
We’ve presented here several ideas to help guide the decision-making process, but you need to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Ultimately, effective communication, collaboration, and adaptability are key factors in addressing the challenges of super app development and ensuring a seamless end product.
If you need help navigating through the super app development process, give us a shout, we’ll be happy to help.