We have a principle that we talk about quite a bit:

There is another of the SOLID principles that we don’t talk about as much:

This principle states that we prefer small interfaces over fat interfaces. “Instead of one fat interface, many small interfaces are preferred”.

To help us abide by the spirit of this principle, we will divide our server code into multiple “micro-services”. Instead of one fat server, we will create several small servers. They will talk to one another over HTTP.

Micro Services


For now, you can just think of a microservice as a Node Js Express app that is dedicated to some single purpose such as logging in a user, or querying a specific database. It helps us modularize the server side of our code. The technique is not so important in small applications, but as applications get huge, being able to divide the server side into distinct services can be helpful. It can also help with maintenance. You don’t necessarily have to update everything, we can update just one service.

NOTE: Not all is rainbows and puppy dogs in the microservice world. However, even with the complexity they can sometimes add there are advantages if you build and deploy them correctly.

Build and Deploy

Before going any further, let’s understand what our application will look like when it is deployed. You will see that you are able to integrate the React interface in the client project into the server project so that the two projects become one.

Right now, we are using a trick that allows us to proxy request from the browser to our server. Specifically, we are adding this line to our client side package.json file:

"proxy": "http://localhost:30026",

This is meant for use only during development. When we ship, we do two things.

  1. At the command line we run this command to build our production code: a. npm run build b. This produces a folder called build in the root of our project
  2. We then copy the contents of this folder into the public directory of our server, or into another express server that we created for this purposes. a. Finally, we point our home page route in routes/index.js to the index.html file created by the npm build step.

Now we can just run our server, browse to the page it creates, and begin playing with our app.



I want to see at least the following:

  • Two micro-services
    • Run one on 30027
    • The other 30028
  • A create-react-app project called client that runs on port 30025 and that calls into a server
  • An elf-express project called server that runs on Port 30026 and calls the microservices.

Much of this we have already from the RestBasics assignment.

Micro Services

We have:

  • A client running on port 30025
  • A server running on port 30026

The server part of our project is the conduit between the client and the micro services.

This means that we want to give the server some base functions, and then ask it to delegate responsibility for major tasks to our little micro services. In particular, I would like our client to depend on two micro servers. The client contacts these micro services via our server:

  • The Qux micro service: /qux
    • If the client queries a route on the Qux micro service the results are mirrored back to the client by the server.
    • For instance our Qux micro service would respond to the following queries and the JSON produced by Qux would be returned to the client by the server with res.send or pipe or similar:
      • /qux/you-rang
  • A second micro-service called system-environment
    • For now, it only responds to /system-environment/you-rang.

System Environment

Create it:

elf-express system-environment

For now, only implement you-rang.

The Ports

Here are the ports

Service Port Near the bottom of .bashrc
qux 30027 export QUX_PORT=30027
system-environment 30028 export SYSTEM_ENVIRONMENT_PORT=30028

I assume you already understand that I want you to put the export statements with the related calls near the bottom of your .bashrc file.

Implement fetch Once

We need only implement fetch one time. When we declare our buttons, we can pass in some data on the event to specify the url for that button:

<button data-url="/qux/you-rang" onClick={this.queryServer}>Ring Qux</button>

NOTE: Recall that attributes beginning with data have special meaning in modern HTML and will appear as target.dataset in the event generated by the button.

Then in the implementation of fetch we snag the URL we declared in the data-url attribute of the button:

queryServer = (event) => {
        const that = this;

NOTE: I think in some cases event.currentTarget.dataset.url might be the right choice rather than event.target.dataset.url. Sorry for the uncertainty. If things aren’t working, try both and see which works. See this StackOverflow reply.

The dataset object is now standard in modern HTML/JavaScript, and the url comes from our data-url attribute declared on the button.

Create Qux Microservice

If you have not done so already, from the root of your week03-rest-basics project:

elf-express qux

Set the port and echo it out using the name of the name of the QUX server in your message:

var port = normalizePort(process.env.QUX_PORT || '30027');
server.listen(port, () => { console.log("QUX Server running on port", port); });

While we are at it, why don’t we ensure that server/bin/www has something similar:

server.listen(port, () => console.log("Main server running on port", port));

Implement qux/you-rang as shown in the next sections. Call it from the client with fetch. Display the output.

You Rang?

All the micro services should respond to a /you-rang query by responding with:

  • result: success
  • route: you-rang
  • server name: In this case qux
  • You can include any additional information about the server you think might be of interest

For instance, if sent from the client, you should get responses to these messages from the appropriate server:

  • /qux/you-rang
  • /system-environment/you-rang

NOTE: I will call the words highlighted above, such as qux and system-environment our base routes. All calls to those services should include those base routes. For instance, when calling any qux api, the first part of the URL should include the word qux.

The method itself can be very a simple call in routes/index.js:

router.get('/you-rang', (request, response) => {
    response.send({'result': 'success', route: 'you-rang', server: 'qux'});

Make sure concurrently starts qux like this in the scripts object of package.json:

"qux": "nodemon qux/bin/www",

HINT: You will also have to modify the start property in the package.json from the root of your project. Use code very similar to the code that you used to load the server with concurrently. Only this time you are loading not only the client and server, but also qux and the other micros. I’ll leave the exact implementation as an exercise, but the solution is simple. Don’t make it overly complicated.

NOTE: It is best to use nodemon during development, but then we will switch to node when we deploy to a Docker container later in the course.

Forwarding Request

Our client knows how to talk to the server because we put the proxy property in client/package.json. However, we do not yet have a way four our server to talk to our microservices and relay the information back to the client.

Begin by importing (require) a package called request:

npm i request

Then put code to forward the request from the server to microservice in server/routes/index.js.:

const requester = require('request');

router.get('/qux/you-rang', function(request, response, next) {

This assumes that our Qux microservice is correctly running on port 30027.

Then we use the request package to forward our request to from the server to the appropriate microservice and return the result by piping it back to the client. These seems a bit like magic, but request is a well established package and it is designed, in part, to do precisely this sort of thing.

The Main Server URLs

All requests except for test-routes/foo should be handled by the microservices. The rest should be forwarded from server/routes/index.js to the appropriate microservice. Therefore, in server/routes/index.js, you should have the /qux-you-rang route shown above, for a total of four methods:

Call Microservice Url
qux /qux/you-rang
system-environment /system-environment/you-rang

For now, all those URLs are in server/index.js. We will, however, more them laster into separate files and change the URL we use to call them to this: qux/you-rang.

The MicroServices EndPoints

Right now we only need to implement two endpoints in our microservices. In both qux and system-environment/routes/index.js you should have a route called /you-rang that returns JSON identifying the service that was called:

Microservice Route/EndPoint
qux /you-rang
system-environment /you-rang

Turn it in


  • Branch
  • Folder of both client and server (week03-rest-basics? Other?)
  • Folders for your microservices.

All your servers should build cleanly and up and running and callable. Use the npm module concurrently to start them all at once.

I am expecting the qux and system-environment servers to be responding to you-rang. The rest of the code can just be shells for now.

Make sure you include the base route in your calls from the client:

  • /qux/you-rang

Put both your micro services in the week02-micros directory or something similar. This means there should be two programs in that directory. The directory should at the top level of your repository, directly under the root:

  • isit322-lastname-2019
    • Your client and server, with a name like week03-rest-basics or similar.
    • week02-micros

Don’t forget how to rename a directory: git mv microtest Micros.

Don’t forget to explore concurrently.

Build Help

It can be a pain to build all the microservices. But there is help! If you pull the latest JsObjects, you will find two updates to ~/.bash_aliases:

alias runcln='cd client && npm i && cd ../server && npm i && bower install && cd .. && npm i'
alias runmicros='cd git-gist && npm i && cd ../qux && pwd && npm i && bower install && cd ../git-user && pwd && npm i && bower install && cd ..'

The runcln alias is meant for a standard concurrently app. It runs npm i in the root, in client, and in server.

The second alias does more or less the same thing, but for git-gist, git-user and qux.

This is one of the cases where naming conventions are very important. Of one student, for instance, calls the gist microservice git-gists instead of git-gist then that slows me down.

Router IDs

If you want, you can add this endpoint/route as the last item in a file such as routes/index.js.

router.get('/:id', function(request, response) {
        'result': 'success from 30026',
        'path': request.params.id

You’ve seen this before, but as a reminder. Respond to ping of a route by echoing back a portion of the url with request.params.id. Doing this serves no practical purpose other than helping you to debug your app and helping you to understand express routing.