min read ·
August 24, 2023

Micro Frontend Architecture Approach Selection Framework

Front-END Development

Abhinav Sharma

With over 16-years in front-end development, Abhinav is primarily responsible for UI development, UX analysis, and designing UI architecture.

In modern web development, micro frontends are becoming a popular way to improve the maintainability, scalability, and agility of web applications and teams. Similar to how microservices changed backend architecture, micro frontends provide the same modularity and independence for the front end.

In our first post from this series, we detailed how enterprises can get started with Microfrontends including a quick comparison with monolithic architecture and a framework to help choose either when building. In this article, we discuss a framework to choose from 5 different approaches to building micro-frontends exploring their benefits, challenges, and some use cases.

1. Routing-Based Approach

In the Routing-Based Approach to micro frontends a frontend monolith is segmented into multiple smaller applications, each catering to a specific feature or module. Rather than having a single, large codebase that handles every aspect of the frontend, this approach decentralizes responsibilities into more manageable units. A central routing system is then used to navigate between these applications, allowing users to move seamlessly through different parts of the site. The real advantage with this approach is that different teams can work independently on their designated modules, even utilizing varying technologies and frameworks tailored to the requirements of that specific part of the application. This not only enhances development agility but can also make maintenance, scaling, and upgrading more straightforward, fostering innovation and potentially improving time-to-market for new features.

A few challenges that can arise with this approach include:

  • Shared Dependencies: Managing shared dependencies between each module or team to ensure consistency in UI can be complex. Moreover, ensuring consistent UI across the application can get challenging.
  • Integration: Cross-cutting concerns when building like authentication and data sharing require careful integration strategies.
  • Initial Load Time: Loading multiple micro frontends can impact initial page load time impacting the applications performance rating..
  • Routing Complexity: Centralized routing management might become complex as the number of micro frontends increases over time.

When to use the routing-based approach:

  • When working in larger teams: In projects where multiple teams work on a single application, the routing-based approach allows each team to focus on specific features or modules. This separation enables parallel development, minimizes conflicts, and allows each team to use the best technologies for their part of the application.
  • When building highly complex applications: For applications with diverse and complex functionality, breaking down the frontend into micro frontends provides the advantage of independent development cycles. Each feature can evolve at its own pace without affecting others, enabling more flexible scheduling and quicker adaptation to changes or new requirements.

2. Composition-Based Approach

The composition-based approach to micro frontends uses a central shell application that acts as a container for multiple, self-contained micro frontends. Each micro frontend is responsible for a specific UI component/feature, developed independently and sometimes by different teams. The shell application handles the rendering and interaction of these micro frontends while ensuring that they are integrated into a coordinated user interface. The composition-based approach allows development to be more modular and enables higher flexibility in technology choices and parallel work on various parts of the application. However, it is important to note that it could also require careful  coordination and management by the shell application to guarantee a seamless UX and to handle aspects like shared dependencies and consistent styling across the different micro frontends.

A few key benefits of this approach include:

  • Consistency: A centralized UI management under the shell application ensures that users enjoy a seamless and unified experience.
  • Clear Responsibilities: By dedicating each micro frontend to a specific aspect, maintenance, updates, and understanding of individual components become simpler and clearer.
  • Independent Deployment: Each micro frontend can be developed, tested, and deployed separately, allowing for flexibility without affecting other parts.
  • Performance: Through lazy loading, only necessary micro frontends are loaded initially, reducing page load time and enhancing performance.

A few challenges that can arise with this approach include:

  • Integration Complexity: Setting up communication and data sharing between the individual micro frontends and the shell application requires careful planning and can become complex, needing precise coordination.
  • Version Compatibility: It's vital to ensure that the shell application and micro frontends are compatible, especially during updates, as mismatches in versions or dependencies can lead to conflicts and integration issues.

When to use the composition-based approach?

  • When UI consistency is a priority: When an application needs to present a uniform look and feel across various sections or features, the composition-based approach provides centralized management through the shell application. This ensures that all micro frontends adhere to the same design guidelines and provide a seamless user experience.
  • When collaboration between teams is a priority: In scenarios where multiple teams are working on different parts of the application, the composition-based approach allows for efficient collaboration. Each team can focus on a specific micro frontend, using their preferred technologies, yet the central shell ensures that everything fits together cohesively. This fosters innovation without sacrificing the uniformity of the user experience.

3. Build-Time Integration Approach

The Build-Time Integration Approach focuses on consolidating micro frontends at the time of building the application. In this method, each micro frontend is developed independently and then compiled into a shared library or bundle. This shared resource is subsequently consumed by the main application at build time. The approach ensures that all micro frontends are aligned and optimized during the compilation, resulting in a single, cohesive package.

A few key benefits of this approach include:

  • Performance: By combining micro frontends into unified bundles, network requests are reduced, leading to faster loading times and a more responsive user experience.
  • Strong Isolation: Encapsulation of each micro frontend ensures minimized conflicts and unexpected interactions, enhancing stability.
  • Version Control: Individual tracking of micro frontends' versions allows for controlled and systematic updates, providing clear oversight and maintenance efficiency.

A few challenges that can arise with this approach include:

  • Build Process Complexity: Managing the integration of shared libraries and dependencies within the main application can become complex and intricate, requiring meticulous oversight.
  • Compile Time: Modifications to individual micro frontends might necessitate complete rebuilding and redeployment of the entire main application, leading to potentially longer development cycles and increased coordination efforts.

When to use the built-time integration approach?

  • When building performance-critical applications: This approach is particularly valuable when performance is paramount. By integrating micro frontends at build time and creating combined bundles, network requests are minimized, leading to improved loading times. It's suitable for applications where speed and responsiveness are key concerns.
  • When version control is a priority: When applications require rigorous version control and compatibility management, build-time integration offers a solution. By tracking individual micro frontends' versions and integrating them at the compilation stage, updates can be more controlled, and compatibility can be ensured. It provides a systematic way to manage complex applications with multiple interdependent components.

4. Client-Side Integration Approach

The Client-Side Integration Approach treats each micro frontend as an independent application, complete with its own routing, state management, and UI components. This provides teams with the flexibility to develop and maintain separate parts of the application using their preferred tools and technologies. Integration into the main shell application is achieved using client-side JavaScript, which fetches and renders the necessary micro frontend components as required. The approach allows for dynamic loading and updating of content without a complete page refresh, leading to a more interactive and responsive user experience. 

A few key benefits of this approach include:

  • Independence: Micro frontends can be constructed using different technologies and frameworks, providing flexibility in development choices.
  • Loose Coupling: Communication through APIs between micro frontends minimizes direct dependencies, promoting modular design.
  • Dynamic Loading: On-demand loading of micro frontends allows for a more efficient use of resources, enhancing the performance and responsiveness of the application.

A few challenges that can arise with this approach include:

  • Communication Overhead: Managing communication and data sharing between various micro frontends can introduce complexity, requiring precise coordination.
  • Routing Synchronization: Maintaining consistent routing between the main shell application and individual micro frontends may necessitate additional effort and planning to ensure a smooth and coherent user experience.

When to use the client-side integration approach?

  • When handling a migration: This approach is particularly beneficial for the gradual migration from a monolithic application to a micro frontends architecture. By integrating micro frontends client-side, a smooth transition can be achieved, allowing for incremental updates without complete overhaul.
  • When working on legacy integrations: When there's a need to integrate legacy applications into a modern shell application, the client-side integration approach offers a solution. It allows older systems to be wrapped within new technologies, providing a way to leverage existing functionalities while aligning with contemporary architectural patterns.

5. Server-Side Integration Approach

The Server-Side Integration Approach integrates different micro frontends through server-side scripting or templating languages, assembling them into a cohesive HTML page. Unlike client-side integration, where the browser handles the rendering, this approach leverages server capabilities to perform the composition. Each micro frontend is developed as an independent application, with the server responsible for aligning and rendering them into a unified interface. This ensures a consistent user experience, as the browser receives a fully composed page. Moreover, it can lead to better performance in certain scenarios, as the initial page load contains all necessary components. 

A few key benefits of this approach include:

  • Server-Side Performance: By handling composition at the server level, client-side load times can be potentially reduced, offering a faster initial page load.
  • Simpler Client-Side Logic: With most rendering tasks performed on the server, client-side scripts can primarily focus on managing user interactions. This leads to less complexity in client-side code, facilitating easier maintenance and possibly improving the user experience by enabling more interactive features without bogging down the browser.

A few challenges that can arise with this approach include:

  • Limited Interactivity: Implementing some dynamic features or real-time interactions might prove challenging on the server side, potentially restricting the interactive capabilities of the application.
  • Development Experience: Successfully employing this approach requires a careful balance of server-side and client-side development skills. Teams must have expertise in both areas to ensure seamless integration and optimal performance, potentially complicating the development process and requiring a broader set of skills.

When to use the server-side integration approach?

  • When Search Engine Optimization
    (SEO) is a priority:
    Server-side rendering can offer substantial benefits in terms of SEO. By rendering the content server-side, search engine crawlers can more easily access and index the fully composed page, potentially boosting the site's ranking in search results.
  • When page load times is a priority: When the priority is optimizing for performance, the server-side integration approach can be highly effective. By handling the composition of micro frontends on the server, the browser receives a fully assembled page, often resulting in faster load times. This can improve the overall user experience, particularly for users with slower internet connections or less powerful devices.


Micro frontends have emerged as a powerful strategy to enhance frontend development, enabling teams to work independently, achieve better modularity, and improve overall maintainability. The choice of approach depends on the nature of the project, team structure, and specific requirements. Whether you opt for a routing-based, composition-based, or build-time integration approach, the goal remains the same: to create a scalable, maintainable, and efficient frontend architecture that adapts to the evolving needs of the digital landscape.

The landscape of micro frontend architecture is rich and diverse, offering multiple approaches to address different project requirements. Each approach has its own set of benefits and challenges, and the choice depends on factors such as team expertise, application complexity, and performance considerations. By carefully evaluating these options and aligning them with your project's goals, you can adopt a micro frontend strategy that empowers your development teams to work efficiently while delivering an exceptional user experience.

Further, In our next post in this series we’ll be talking about how Micro Frontends communicate with each other in various ways enabling a highly agile and responsive development environment.


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