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Baseline Front End Architecture Checklist

This document is a living document that is still going through revisions.

General

General high level overview of front end technology considerations while building a Web site or Web application.

Getting Started

  • Type of site
    • Marketing
    • Content
    • Content Management
    • Application / Content mix
    • Single page app
    • Offline
    • Mobile, etc.
  • Size of site
  • Target audience
    • Technology assumptions
    • Browsers
    • JavaScript
    • Accessibility, etc.
  • Technology platform(s)
  • Timeframe
  • Development / PM methodology
    • Initial estimates
    • Staffing expectations
  • Be prepared with site framework, build tools, etc. (more below)
    • Time required for initial set up is often overlooked
  • Expected Deliverables and Tasks
    • Build kits
    • Working site
    • Integration Consulting
    • Actual Integration

Backend: View Rendering Technology

  • How is the front end to be rendered with this technology?
  • Who does the integration with the back end?
  • Are there "Products" or "frameworks" involved that claim all they need is a "theme" applied?
  • Are there pre-built widgets at work? (see JS below)
    • CMS?
    • Portal?
    • Community software?
    • Sharepoint?
  • Will any of the views be rendered on the front end?
  • Will there be control over the markup?
  • Have this technology been worked on before?
  • Is prototyping of design integration required?

Legacy Code

  • Is integration with legacy code bases necessary?
  • Will any code being created have to be "portable" or "shared"?

Key Integration Points

  • Servers
  • Domains (multiple domains ultimately)
  • Third Parties
  • Social
  • Widgets
  • Other Applications
  • Coding Guidelines

Browser Specs

  • Degradation Style
  • Backwards Compatibility Policy

Mobile/Tablet Support

  • Any defined requirements?
  • Was it included in cost?
  • Should there be?
  • Separate site?
  • Responsive Site?
  • Required Platforms
  • Testing Suites

SEO

  • URL requirements
  • Deep linking requirements

Content Delivery Services (CDN)

  • Will a CDN be used in the final environment?
  • Will this impact cached code / updated code?

Translation / Localization / i18n Requirements

  • Does the site need to be in multiple languages?
  • What is the plan for how that content will be maintained?
  • Consider localization impact on CSS/JS (see below)
  • Will translations be handled "on the fly" or will users be "redirected" to unique sites?

Process

Requirements Definition

  • Expected deliverables to Front end developers
  • Expected deliverables from Front end developers
  • Front end developer Design Review
    • Feedback on designs prior to client sign-off
    • Can the process be iterative with design?
    • Will there be prototypes or proofs of concepts?
  • Backend data / services
    • Mock data / Stubs / sample data
    • Timeframe vs. front end development?
  • Wireframes
  • All applicable widget "states"
    • Errors
    • Warnings
    • Hide/show
  • Designs

Schedule

  • Were there assumptions as to when front end code would be integrated?
    • Before (or after) xyz?

Critical Elements

  • Must define global styles in design as early as possible
  • Must understand environments for usage of front end code as early as possible
  • Must understand and define browser fall-back/behavior as early as possible

Environments

Servers

  • Local Development
  • Shared Development Servers
  • Staging Servers
  • QA Servers

Developers

  • What types of environments will developers have access to?
  • How will shared code and parallel development be managed?
  • Will there be full local environments available?

Tools

  • Expected IDEs
  • Project File Types

Builds

  • Please see Continuous Integration
  • Please see Builds and Deployments

Baseline Front End Architecture

  • Are there coding standards or guidelines to be followed?
  • Having a clear approach, structure, system, or "approach" is critical.
  • Where does new code get added?
    • How is it executed?
    • How is it included?
    • More info under each particular technology
  • JS
    • Will usage of specific Libraries and Frameworks be required, or helpful?
    • Folder structure
  • CSS
    • Will usage of specific Libraries and Frameworks be required, or helpful?
    • Folder structure
  • Img
    • Does the client "care" about things like transparent PNG images in older versions of IE?
    • Folder structure
  • Will content management come into play?
    • Will authors need to "format" HTML and CSS in certain cases?
    • What about application of CSS and HTML to uploaded assets?
    • Rich text editors?

HTML

Doctypes and Rendering Modes

  • Integration with server tools, products, software (see above)
  • MSIE Rendering modes
    • Does the server environment specify a rendering mode for IE?
    • Are they on the compatibility list from Microsoft?
    • Can HTTP headers be set from the server?

Templates / Server Pre-Processing

  • Client side templates?
  • Server side templates?
  • Pre-compilation?
  • Relationship to Builds and Dependency Managment (see other topics)

HTML5 Tag Usage

  • Polyfills needed, what types?
  • Does it address the IE printing issues?

Grid System

  • See CSS
  • See Mobile

Cascading Style Sheets

Having a "System" is critical.

Division of Concerns

  • Site Design
  • Brand
  • Page or Section Specific code

CSS Frameworks

  • Will a pre-built framework help?
  • What about a Grid system?

Hacks vs. CSS3 vs. IE

  • What type of approach is being used?
  • Can older browsers just "not see" these effects?
  • Do we need polyfills for everything?
  • Should the design change?

Fonts & Typography

  • Strategy / Content management/entry
  • Cross Domain Concerns

Server Pre-Processing Tools

  • Dynamic CSS libraries?
  • Developer environments?
  • Build environments?
  • Extent of use? (a lot, a little, etc.)
  • Best practices ...

Output

  • All CSS at all times?
  • Dependency Management
  • How are <link> tags rendered / HTML updated?
  • Is there a Cache and Cache-busting strategy?

Printing Requirements

  • Do particular pages need to be printed?
  • What level of detail?
  • Are there exceptions?

Folder Structure

  • Core Styles
  • Site Sections

Naming Conventions

  • Files
  • Selectors

Sprites

  • Creation and Dev
  • Maintenance

JavaScript

Having a "System" (i.e. architecture) is critical.

Bottom line, it has been said the best way to build a large scale JavaScript application is to NOT build a large scale application.

From "Large Scale JS Applications":

We want a loosely coupled architecture with functionality broken down into independent modules with ideally no inter-module dependencies. Modules speak to the rest of the application when something interesting happens and an intermediate layer interprets and reacts to these messages.

Namespaces

  • Is the global scope an issue?
  • What namespace structure will be used?

Globals / Exports

  • Will a dependency management tool impact the way the code should be written?
  • Will style preference impact the way the code should be written?

Code Style Standards

  • Are there coding guidelines in place?
  • Style guidelines?

Code Growth

Before arbitrarily adding code, libraries, new modules, consider:

  • Is there a module that does this already?
  • Which script file should this functionality exist within?
  • Should this feature be abstracted so that other modules can use this code? (e.g. Modals, tooltips, validation)
    • Bottom line, is this code core business logic, or for widgets, controls, re-usable logic, presentation layer?
  • How should we link to this script?
  • What dependencies will exist?

Adding New Code

  • When new code is added, is it obvious where it will be added?
  • Can it leverage code that exists already?
  • Is an MVC pattern the best approach, or something else?

Dependency Management

  • How large will this app get?
  • Where will it be handled?
    • Manually
    • Part of the code
    • Client side
    • Part of builds
    • Server side
  • See build process
    • Part of build process
    • Manually managed
  • Strict dependency management?
    • per page
    • per site section
    • for all pages

Libraries / Frameworks

  • What functional requirements drive the assumed or required library usage?
  • What are the longer term conditions that this code will need to deal with?

Plugins / Widgets

  • Specific UI requirements
  • Mobile users?
  • Richness of API or footprint
  • Bundled widgets?
    • Usually from backend server technology
  • Translations

Translations in JS

  • (please see Translations / Localization / i18n)
  • Raw string usage in JS
  • Where will the strings be sourced from?
  • How will they be delivered to the front end vs. the build process?

Domains

  • (see integration above)
  • Any cross domain considerations?
  • CORS
  • Backwards compatible libraries

Images

Folder Structure

Naming Conventions

Sprites

  • See CSS (above)

Lossless Optimization

  • Manually done
  • Build time
  • Real time

Continuous Integration

  • Will there be a complex back-end build process required?
  • Should the front end code base be included in this?

Front End Code Builds

  • Minification and Concatenation of CSS
    • Will there be any preprocessing?
  • Minification and Concatenation of JS
  • Locally performed?
  • Automated as part of backend build?
  • Both?
  • Cache strategy, or Cache busting strategy?
  • How will files be updated to point to built file versions?

Build & Deployment

  • Platform considerations
  • Developers desktops, build tools, deployment
  • Testing in builds (see Unit Testing below)

Environments

  • Different settings / files for different environments
  • How many?
  • Where will code have to run?
  • Different types of developers, testing, continuous integration, etc.

Unit Testing

TDD

  • Is this a requirement?
  • Is there time?
  • What patterns should be followed by coders to facilitate this?
  • Will tests be done locally, as part of the builds, or other?

Content & Visuals

  • How will visual design be QA'd?
  • Content?
  • Translations?
  • Browser testing?
  • Mobile devices?

Deployment

  • Launch day considerations
  • Testing
  • Support
  • Hot fixes / patches

Post Launch Development

  • Post-launch day Hot Fixes
  • Parallel tracks
    • Version Control
    • New feature work
  • Resources and priorities
  • Client involvement

Long Term Site Development

  • Who will maintain the site's content, and how?
  • Who will own ongoing development of the site?