5 min. reading time

Reactive applications are a hot topic in 2019. No wonder – this still rather new technology paradigm has enormous advantages, with implications for your microservices and even your business products. To you as a decision maker in product planning or development, this article tells you what reactive application development means and how it can boost your business.


What changes are necessary for a reactive application?

It is first and foremost a mindset change of the programmer. The guiding principles of developing a reactive application is to have it responsive, scalable, and resilient. With these key objectives in mind, software architects design a novel type of software application. Traditional applications are often hampered by excessive data transfers. Under the new paradigm, resources are only consumed on demand rather than when they might be needed.

The ideal path to achieve the above goals and deliver a great product, is to use a message-driven approach. That is, a reactive application will never block for reading data or waiting for some condition to become true. Instead, it will always remain responsive and react on messages regarding data having become available or a condition having become fulfilled.

The reactive approach to software development has been around for the last five years, and it has already gained a foothold in the market.

Switching over to the reactive paradigm is a change that often only a few developers in a big team will fight for, and they’ll often fail to convince others despite the benefits. So spreading the buzz will help you adapt and walk towards the future.

However, there have been a few gaps such as not having good approaches to reactive access to databases and reactive microservices. This until now blocked reactive programming’s path to becoming a “best practice”.

But these gaps are expected to be closed in the coming months, and today the market is ready for a change. Are you, too?

Why reactive development is key

Reactive applications are the answer to the market need for faster and more reliable connectivity between server and client, while maintaining quality and control over behavior and usability.

In its core, the key concepts are:

  • Responsiveness
  • Resilience
  • Scalability
  • Message-driven

The market has evolved its requirements. Throughout the last years, the need for a high responsiveness has become increasingly relevant in terms of usability and quality in order to gain user confidence and intuitively generate familiarity with applications.

There will be no more acceptance for lacking resilience, even in non-critical applications. The demand is there for control and recovery, and you should be ready.

The ability to scale in today’s market, while ensuring responsiveness, drives opportunities for success, since customers become more and more relentless in scenarios where they are not prepared for a surge in popularity.

To achieve all these objectives, reactive applications endorse the usage of predictive and scalable algorithms, while ensuring cost-effectiveness not only of development but also of hardware.

What is actually to gain from switching paradigms?

Developing a reactive application implies ensuring that each and every component is non-blocking. Everything must be a stream that is consistent, reliable and resilient.

In the approaches introduced by most programming languages, the development of a reactive application instead of an imperative one has the following main benefits:

  • Libraries will handle a lot of the typical imperative overhead for you.
  • Simplification of threading and operators
  • Shorter, cleaner and more readable code

Why is now the time to change (if you haven’t yet)?

Library support for reactive applications is available for all major programming languages. With a couple of these key libraries approaching maturity levels for a release, there is still time to join the communities and provide feedback or support the development phases in projects that will revolutionize the market of reactive sockets and reactive relational databases.

Preparations to migrate to a reactive mindset will take its time, but the costs of responding to market needs will reap their rewards in the medium term and allow you to continue to be a key player.

With the binary protocol Rsocket and the reactive api for relational databases R2DBC release candidates maturing into a first major release, a future blog post is underway to show you just how easy and cost-effective it is to implement a fully reactive backend. So register and get notified as soon as our follow-up post is available!

What is your opinion about reactive applications? Do you want more information about this topic? Give me feedback in the comments below!