Frontend Working Group Highlights: August, 2022

Recently, there was a significant increase in community involvement with the Open edX frontend. With that in mind, here are three examples of roadmap-instigated efforts happening under the coordination of the working group as of August 2022, each tackled independently by an organization in the community:

  1. Dynamic runtime configuration of micro-frontends: in their current state, existing micro-frontends (or "MFEs”) can only be configured when building container images.  From a provider perspective, this is a barrier to both scalability and customizability as any changes require them to rebuild the images from scratch, a time-consuming process.  eduNext has undertaken the development of a solution to this problem, as devised during a working group meeting at the Lisbon Open edX conference.  (More details can be found in the corresponding Architecture Decision Record.)

  2. Runtime theming of micro-frontends: similarly, the branding on current MFEs can only be customized at build-time, and then only via relatively complicated methods.  Among other challenges, this makes multi-tenancy cost-prohibitive, impeding the adoption of new releases by several providers.  OpenCraft has begun discovery on improvements to Paragon, the platform’s pattern library (via this proposal), and to the MFE platform itself (via this other one), with the end goal of allowing “theming” to be a much simpler, dynamic affair.  Both proposals are currently under review by the working group.

  3. General maintenance of the frontend codebase: while the move to a micro-frontend architecture speeds up development of new features, if not handled properly it can quickly increase the burden of tech debt.  This is due simply to there being a proportionately greater number of code repositories.  There’s no way around actually having to maintain each of them, though.  2U has put together a 3-person team (“FED-BOM”) dedicated exclusively to this task - their work is constantly reviewed by members of the group.