Several companies are turning to single-page applications (SPAs) to meet the rising expectations of consumers and users.
Single Page Application (SPA) integration with Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) offers a comprehensive solution for supporting SPAs within AEM. The front-end frameworks are easy to collaborate and meet the needs of customers and the market.
SPAs in AEM can increase fluidity within the existing web pages and prevent slow page loads to give the audience a digital channel that won’t disappoint.
In this blog post, we’ve tried to answer your queries about single-page applications and how its integration with AEM can enhance your user experience.
So, let’s get started.
When Should You Go For Single Page Application?
Choosing to go for single-page applications largely depends upon your business objectives and the nature of the project. Let’s take a look at some pros and cons of SPAs to help you decide better:
What Impact Can SPAs Bring to a User’s Experience?
SPAs are integral when web developers focus only on providing their customers with a fast and responsive website interface and SEO doesn’t hold much significance. Here, we can take the examples of Google, SoundCloud, Gmail, Trello, Google Drive, and Google Maps. The user only needs a portion of the webpage while browsing any of these SPAs.
Had it been the entire page reload, the user experience is bound to get affected adversely. The SPA structure is designed to provide a seamless UX and benefit your business. Here’s how:
1. Increased Loading Speed: Single-page applications update only the required content at the first request. This speeds up the loading time because the entire page doesn’t have to be loaded.
2. Caching Capabilities: Using the SPA approach, you can effectively cache any local data. When Single-Page Applications send a request to the server, all the data gets stored. Even if you have no internet connection, you will still be able to work offline because local data can be synchronized with the server once the internet connection is restored.
3. Uninterrupted user experience: SPAs offer an unbroken chain of scrolling through a web page. You don’t have to click on numerous links or menus to reach an exact source of information. The SPA approach allows you to keep scrolling uninterrupted. This feature is especially helpful when you are browsing via mobile.
Building SPAs for AEM
On one hand, the web developers and business owners want to build websites with SPA structures and on the other hand, authors want an undisturbed content editor.
AEM 6.4 service pack or newer come with the SPA editor feature. This is a recommended solution for projects where a SPA framework based client-side rendering like Angular or React is needed.
SPA Development Principles for AEM
As a front-end developer, it is imperative to follow standard best practices for developing single-page applications on AEM. These will make your SPA functional with AEM and its content-authoring functionalities.
1. Portability: Developing and designing any component should be done in a way that facilitates portability and reusing of components. Any component that doesn’t allow such flexibility and compatibility should be given a miss. Developers should not use static paths as this will restrict the content authors to modify them.
2. AEM Drive Site Structure: The job of a front end developer is to build a library of SPA components. While the developer has complete control over the internal structure of the components, AEM owns the drive site structure at all times. The front end developer can make content additions to before or after the entry point of the components. However, the developer cannot have full control over how the components nest.
3. Dynamic Rendering: SPA should count on dynamic rendering of content as it supports the principle of portability. Adhering to this principle means that AEM fetches and renders all children of the content structure. Explicit rendering to any specific content is thought of as static rendering and it will not be compatible with the AEM’s authoring capabilities.
4. Dynamic Routing: In AEM, the single-page applications should always own the routing. This is why all routing should be kept dynamic and not static. AEM will eventually fetch content depending on it. Static routing will delimit the content authors as they’ll have to ask the front end developer to deploy editable templates via the JCR.
If your project/business doesn’t require AEM content authoring features, you can go for a different SPA design model. Here is an overview of three SPA design models with their pros and cons:
Significant Points to Consider by Front-End Developers
When developing a SPA for AEM, a front-end developer needs to follow the following steps:
1. Agree on which AEM components are necessary and their JSON model. It is essential to provide edit dialogs and to export the component model.
2. Now, the front-end developer is free to develop the SPA and can access the JSON model via ‘this.props.cqModel’.
3. The standard way of developing an app in React is when the front-end developer implements the ‘render ()’ method. This returns the DOM and HTML fragments to be inserted into the page.
4. Based upon the AEM resource type, the component can be mapped via ‘MapTo()’ and used internally by the ‘Container’ component. This connects both the front end and back end.
5. The component’s ‘EditConfig’ is necessary to be defined as a parameter to ‘MapTo()’. This is to tell the editor how to name the component till the time it is not rendered.
6. The ‘Container’ class should be extended for pages and containers. This way, the delegation to inner components works as expected.
7. Using the HTML5 ‘History’ API, a router solution can be enabled and implemented. Enabling the ‘ModelRouter’ will help the developer fetch a missing fragment of the model. Disabling it will let him/her ignore the list of regular expressions.
So, you saw how incredibly powerful SPAs can be if integrated with AEM. Single-page applications work well in AEM when the development principles are followed.
The SPA AEM architecture is devised to rule the digital world where authors can seamlessly edit content for a site. SPAs also bring flexibility when the entire page reload isn’t needed but SEO optimization cannot be achieved using this app.
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