The advantages of the monolith

Introduction

There are various possible ‘architectures’ to use in your application. Monoliths, micro-services and self-contained systems to name a few. When something is a hype, one can easily forget that there is no silver bullet, that we should use the best solution for your problem.

And these days, a lot of people forget that monoliths are powerful when used correctly, in certain use cases.

So let’s have a look at the simplicity, easy integration and consistency aspects of the monolith.

Simplicity

Monoliths are simple in structure. You just have 1 code source repository which is compiled and packaged in one command to produce your single artifact which you need to deploy.

So for a new team member, getting up and running is easily and fast. Get the link to the source code, download and package it and run it on the local machine. Even if you need an application server, it can be simple as executing a script which sets it up correctly.

This in contrast with micro-services for instance. You have several code repositories, different packaging systems because you have different development languages and frameworks, additional instances for the configuration service, API gateway, the discovery service and so one.

Easy / fast integration

In a bigger monolith, the integration between different parts is easy and efficient.

Since everything is running within the same JVM integration is as simple as calling another java method. There is no need that the data is converted to JSON for example. So it is faster and you have no pitfalls with the conversion which can happen in some corner cases.

And since everything is running in the same process, you don’t have to take into account the fallacies of the distributed computing. Which is forgotten by the developers anyway. So no issues with network failures, latency, bandwidth latency, changing topology and all those pitfalls which arise when your application is distributed between different machines.

Consistent

The consistency of your UI is very important for your end user. Each screen must be built in a similar manner with the same look and feel and layout. When the different parts of your application looks differently or behave differently, it is for the end user much more difficult to use it and makes it inefficient (and probably he will no longer use it)

With your monolith, you are using a single code language and the same framework for generating the UI. So with a bit of discipline of the developer (and a good UI/UX design), it is fairly easy to create uniform screens.

In the case of micro-services where you have maybe different frameworks for the UI for different parts of the application, it will be very difficult to achieve this uniformity.

Or even worse, you built a giant monolithic SPA on top of your fine-grained micro-services which breaks an important concept of the architectural vision, the independently deployable artifacts.

Monolith as the start

Since it is so easy to get started with a monolith, every application should begin as a monolith. You have your first production artifact ready much faster.

In the following phases, you can gradually split it up and evolve into a distributed system if your use cases mandate it.

Just be aware of your package structure within the monolith application. Make sure there is already a clean separation so that the extraction of the different pieces can be smooth.

Conclusion

The advantages of the monolith are often forgotten these days. However, it has all the features that can give you a quick first success with your application. And the time to market is in many cases shorter due to its simplicity and easy integration. And if you carefully pay attention to the structure of your code, you can even create large monolith successfully.

Have fun.