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Open-source frontend development stack

When it comes to modern software development, open-source tools and technologies are immensely popular among developers. The open-source community itself is growing at an unprecedented rate. Not only do open-source projects provide access to free and customizable resources, but they also foster collaboration and learning within the developer community.

In this article, we will explore a comprehensive open-source stack for front-end developers. This stack will encompass development frameworks, testing tools, debugging utilities, and deployment solutions.

1. Development Frameworks, Libraries and Module Bundling

In the open-source realm, two prominent frameworks have emerged as favourites among developers recently – ReactJS and NextJS.

1.1 ReactJS

React is a JavaScript library for building user interfaces. With its component-based architecture and virtual DOM, React simplifies the process of creating interactive and reusable UI components. React has grown widely in the last few years and is the most preferred framework for building user interfaces.

React by its very nature is also minimal since it’s only a view library rather than a full-blown web framework. It relies heavily on the open-source ecosystem for additional features. This gives developers a ton of freedom on how they want to architecture their applications, how to handle state management, routing etc.

1.2 Next.js

When React was at the peak of its popularity, it gave birth to an even more robust framework built on top of it – NextJS.

Next.js provides server-side rendering, static site generation, and other advanced features out of the box. It enables developers to build performant and SEO-friendly web applications with ease. If you have some knowledge of React and client-side rendering isn’t going to do it for you, NextJS can be your go-to frontend framework.

1.3 Webpack

To bundle and optimize frontend assets, Webpack is a widely adopted open-source module bundler that helps streamline the development process. At the end of the day, any framework needs to bundle all your code together into a minified and compressed JavaScript bundle.

Webpack is highly configurable and provides various features like code splitting, dynamic imports, tree shaking, and more. It is widely used in modern JavaScript development, including React and Next.js projects, to bundle and optimize the codebase for efficient delivery to browsers.

2. Backend

Gone are the days when Frontend developers had to learn a complete database language and a server-side programming language to add a backend to their applications.

Backend as a Service Platforms

Today there are a number of free and open-source backend as a service platform available. These platforms simplify database management and API integration by giving you frontend SDKs that you can use from your client-side code. You can directly interact with the database via queries or even write your own custom APIs in JavaScript.

2.1 Supabase

Supabase is an open-source alternative to Firebase, offering a suite of backend services. It provides developers with a real-time database, authentication, file storage, and serverless functions. The underlying database that Supabase uses is PostgreSQL which offers both a self-hosted and on-premise solution for building modern applications with ease.

Being open-source, you can tweak Supabase according to the use-case of your project if needed.  It provides a free tier that you can leverage for personal as well as commercial projects.

3. API Testing

If you opt to create your own APIs during development on top of your backend service, you’ll need some tools that can help you simplify API testing and debugging.

Here are some open-source tools that can streamline the API development process and enhance productivity.

3.1. Requestly API Client

Requestly is an open-source API client that simplifies API testing and debugging. It offers a clean and intuitive interface for sending requests, inspecting responses, and managing APIs effectively.

3.2. HoppScotch

HoppScotch is an open-source API development assistant that enables developers to create, share, and test APIs effortlessly. It provides a user-friendly GUI for defining API endpoints and handling requests/responses.

4. API Mocking

Mocking APIs speeds up your development workflow because now your front end doesn’t have to necessarily wait for the backend APIs to be complete while building out a feature. Here are two open-source tools that can assist developers in API mocking.

4.1 Requestly Mock Server

Requestly Mock Server allows developers to create mock endpoints and define custom responses. It enables comprehensive API testing and facilitates front-end development without relying on actual back-end services.

4.2 Mockoon

Mockoon is another open-source API mocking tool that provides a user-friendly interface to create and manage mock APIs. It offers features like request/response customization, dynamic responses, and request logging.

5. UI Testing & Debugging

UI Testing can be complex because it can be hard to get all the data on local setup and many companies don’t have staging environments. If you’re building SaaS platform that offers JS SDKs, you can’t test new features/bug fixes before deployment. Here is an open-source tool that helps developers in inspecting & modifying network traffic and provides more control to frontend developers for testing UI.

5.1 Requestly HTTP Rules

Requestly can be used to test UI changes (new features & bug fixes) directly on production websites without going through deployment cycles. Requestly has an-inbuilt HTTP Rules module that captures outgoing network traffic and you can setup HTTP rules to modify it.

In order to test JS on production sites, you can setup Redirect Rule which swaps production version of script with staging/dev/local version enabling you to test your changes faster. Read more in this blog post.

5.2 Requestly Sessions

Requestly session recording can be used to record any web page along with console & network logs so whenever QA, Product Managers or Customer Support report any issues, developers have all the context to troubleshoot the issue.

6. Authentication

Authentication is a vast and tricky subject, especially from a security standpoint. Luckily, SuperTokens is a popular open-source authentication solution that you can use to add authentication quickly to your frontend applications.

6.1 SuperTokens

It provides robust security features, including session management, token validation, and secure storage, to ensure reliable user authentication and authorization. You can use their pre-build Signup UI so you don’t even have to build a single signup or login form on your own. It provides all the popular social logins as well as passwordless logins to facilitate quick and modern authentication solutions for your application.

7. Deployment

To deploy front-end applications, Vercel and Netlfy are popular choices among developers. They’re very simple to use, work directly with your favourite Git tools like Github and Gitlab and also provide deployment logs, adding custom domains, etc.

While they’re not open-source, their free tier will keep you going for a comfortable amount of time. However, if you’re looking for strictly open-source deployment tools, here are some good options to consider:

7.1 Cloud Foundry

An open-source cloud application platform that supports deploying and managing applications, including front-end applications. Cloud Foundry provides features like build packs, containerization, and scaling.

7.2 Dokku

A lightweight open-source platform that allows you to deploy and manage applications on your own infrastructure. Dokku is inspired by Heroku and provides a Heroku-like deployment experience for various programming languages and frameworks.

7.3 CapRover

An open-source platform that simplifies deploying applications to your own servers or cloud providers. CapRover supports multiple programming languages and frameworks and provides a user-friendly web interface for managing deployments.

8. Production Monitoring & Crash-Reporting

Debugging is a critical aspect of front-end development, and open-source tools can make the process more efficient. Here are three popular tools that can help you debug your frontend code faster.

8.1 Highlight

Highlight.io is an open-source debugging tool that offers advanced error-tracking and monitoring capabilities. It helps developers identify and resolve issues in their applications by providing detailed error logs and stack traces.

8.2 Open Replay

Open Replay is an open-source session replay tool that enables developers to record and replay user sessions. It assists in identifying bugs, understanding user interactions, and improving the overall user experience.

These open-source platforms offer flexibility and control over your deployment infrastructure. They require some setup and configuration but provide the freedom to deploy and manage front-end applications on your own terms.

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This article was written by:

Sagar Soni

Sagar Soni

Sagar, the co-founder and CTO of Requestly, has been pivotal in shaping the company's vision and product trajectory. With over a decade of professional experience, he has been affiliated with renowned companies like Google, Adobe, and Grofers.

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