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Introduction to migrating Traditional Web to Reactive Web Apps

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The target audience for this document is experienced developers and leads planning to migrate Traditional Web Apps to Reactive Web Apps. The migration requires good knowledge of the new front-end features and the application architecture. Check the OutSystems training Becoming a Reactive Web Developer to get into Reactive Web development practices.

The objective of these documents is to guide developers on the end-to-end process of migrating Traditional Web apps to Reactive Web.

About Reactive Web development

In October 2019, OutSystems released Reactive Web, enabling the developers to create the next generation of Web Apps. Due to significant changes to the Reactive App, OutSystems doesn't provide a tool for automatic migration of the Traditional Web Apps.

Reactive Web development is a highly performant and scalable way to build apps for web and mobile. It boosts the development journey to build apps that run on every device. By having separated server-side and client-side logic, asynchronous data fetching, and reactive client-side rendering, supported by a future-proof architecture, the overall performance of Reactive Web Apps allows improving both your development and your users' experience.

Why migrating your apps to Reactive Web

Migrating your apps to Reactive Web allows you to boost their performance, and make them more secure by having all sensitive data processed on the server-side only. It's also an opportunity to refactor your apps, offering your users a modern UI and a smooth experience while using your apps.

The migration process is manual. The effort might be significant, depending on the size and complexity of the applications, particularly in the front end. If you have a solid architecture supporting your apps, you can reuse a lot of server-side logic and speed up the migration.

Migration, for the most part, implies creating new UI with the new framework and then creating logic using a new development paradigm. In the process, you may rethink and improve your user experience, especially if your app has an outdated look and feel.

The developers already familiar with the Mobile App development find in the Reactive App many concepts they already know, do to the similarities in the development tools. The developers who develop primarily in the older Traditional Web App technology may need to learn more about Mobile App development, Reactive Web App development, and the client-side development paradigm.

Effort estimation and team requirements

To estimate how long your project can take, start by a proof of concept and migrate simple Screens, and then move to more complex Screens. The effort you invest should be a good indication of how fast your team can migrate the app to the new runtime. Depending on the complexity of a screen, its migration can take around one day of development effort.

Consider also using a gradual release strategy where you migrate only some Screens or sets of Screens and deploy them side by side with the old Screens. In the process, you should test how the Screens work on devices with different display sizes.

Before initiating a migration project, make sure that:

  • There is a real value in migration. For example, you plan to continue developing the app actively, have the need to reuse elements between Mobile and Web apps, the improvements in end-user experience justify the investment, and similar.
  • Your team has experience and training in building Reactive Apps or Mobile Apps. Reactive Web Apps builds on top of modern client-side logic that's powered by a well-designed server side. The development team must be familiar with both. If you aren't confident that the team is ready for the task, OutSystems advises working with partners or developers experienced in migrating projects.
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