Building the frontend for the Endpoints project

Arnelle Balane
Feb 17, 2018 · 4 min read

We recently built a side-project with Emmanuel Lodovice and Aldrin Navarro named Endpoints, a Web application that allows you to generate a mock endpoint where you can send HTTP requests to, view a log of these requests, and set a customized HTTP response. You can check out the live application at endpoints.uncaughtexception.wtf or the source code at GitHub.

Endpoints allows you to see a log of request logs and set a response

This post gives an overview of how the application’s frontend was built and the different technologies that we used. If you’re interested in knowing how the backend was built, you can read Emmanuel Lodovice’s article about it:

JavaScript Framework

We used VueJS for our JavaScript framework. It is a framework for building user interfaces, and what I like about it is that I didn’t have to learn any new language in order to use it (knowing HTML, CSS, and JavaScript is enough to get started). This approachability enabled us to start building the application right away. It also has a decent ecosystem of libraries, plugins, and developer tools to make our lives easier.

We used VueJS’ Single File Components (SFCs). These components define their templates, styles, and JavaScript behavior and other dependencies all in one file. This allows us to quickly update a component’s functionality since all the code related to it are all in one place. SFCs also gives us scoped styling among other things, which basically means that a component’s styles are not going to affect the styles of another components.

Routing

The Endpoints app has three pages, and they are all structured as a Single Page Application (SPA). To achieve this, we used Vue’ official client-side router, vue-router. It takes care of identifying which Vue component should be render based on the URL, and rendering that component without reloading the page.

Vue-router also supports lazy-loading the components, which means that the components are only downloaded by the browser only when they are the ones that are going to be rendered. This is helpful for reducing our bundle size, allowing the browser to download them faster and rendering our app faster. We used this feature for the Vue components representing each page, which makes Vue download the code for that component only when its URL is visited.

State Management

We used vuex to manage the states of our application. It allowed us to keep all our state (available endpoints, request logs, response data, etc.) in a single central location called a “store”. These states are then easily accessed by different components instead of having to be passed as props from parent to child. Vuex also gives us mechanisms (mutations and actions) to easily manipulate the states.

Using a vuex store as our single source of truth for our application state makes it easier to synchronize data across different components, since we only need to read or modify it in one location. Additionally, all our code that interact with our backend are also placed inside the vuex store.

Web APIs

Several Web platform APIs were used to implement the different functionalities of the project.

Fetch API

We used the Fetch API to programmatically send HTTP requests to our backend server. We used it to either send data to the backend (e.g. a request to create a new endpoint) or retrieve data from it (e.g. obtaining live status of an endpoint).

WebSockets

One feature of the Endpoints app is that it shows a real-time log of HTTP requests that your endpoint receives. In order to do this, we established a WebSocket connection between the browser and our backend server. This allows our backend server to send request logs data to the browser as they arrive.

Build Tool

We used Webpack to build our frontend assets. Webpack is a module bundler which takes different modules that you’re using in your application (e.g. stylesheets, images, JavaScript files, etc.), does some processing on them, and then outputs a single file (or multiple files, depending on the setup) containing these modules.

Webpack uses “loaders” to process modules, and there are different loaders for processing specific types of modules. In the case of the Endpoints app, here are the ones that we used:

Code Splitting

I mentioned earlier that we only load Vue components only when its URL. In order to do this, we needed split the code for these components out of the main bundle and into their own smaller bundles, which are then going to be the ones that are lazy-loaded at the appropriate time. Using vue-loader automatically does this for us.

Production Build

We performed additional steps in order to optimize our assets for production. We minified the bundles that we serve in production using the UglifyJSPlugin for Webpack. But we only do this when NODE_ENV=production is set in order to not slow down development builds.

So that’s the quick overview of how we built the frontend part of the Endpoints project. We tried to keep the setup and configurations as minimal as possible, and I think we did a decent job at doing that. You are welcome to dig deeper into the code in the GitHub repository.

Thanks for reading!

Uncaught Exception

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