When looking for technological solutions, users want everything to be responsive and fast. It doesn’t matter if it is a website, mobile application, desktop application, or any other type of software. But, the truth of the matter is, meeting this need often proves to be a headache for developers.
Huge chunks of data are analyzed, processed, and aggregated, which makes getting the best performance out of your software something of a balancing act. And when it comes to mobile devices, the battery is another factor that can have a negative impact.
Improving App Performance: Laying the Foundation
Let’s say that you must create a mobile app with the ability to communicate with 3rd party services. The parameters are as follows:
- Low impact on battery life
- Protects the credential information of the 3rd party services
To throw some spice in the mix, make one of the 3rd party services a big API, or application program interface. APIs help build software apps and, in this instance, will need lots of data parsing, aggregation, and an active connection. Getting a grasp on these three elements will ensure that you will have access to the real-time data needed to be effective.
What should you do next? For help answering this question, check out our comprehensive, but concise breakdown:
Benefits of A Back-End Server
When dealing with the above situation, a top-level architectural approach is optimal. To enact this strategy, the app will need a back-end service that communicates with REST protocol. The back-end service will handle all 3rd party requests, freeing up the front-end.
Doing so solves the following problems:
- Security: The server stores all 3rd party API credentials, which protects them from mobile users
- Reliability: You will have total control of the back-end server and possible control over the data sent by the 3rd party services.
- Money and time: The back-end handles most changes so the app won’t need updates as often.
- Performance: With the back end handling the heavy lifting, the front end is free to work at an optimal level. Plus, it’s possible to slow down 3rd party services by using caching and other tweaks.
Now, let’s say that there is a problem with one of the 3rd party services. In this case, it’s a huge API that provides continuously changing real-time data. It also provides historical data that is immutable but will need updates every now and then.
You can take care of this problem in three easy steps:
- Integrate the service by connecting to it and doing the initial pre-requisition calls.
- Subscribe to the service to get the necessary information in real time
- Process the data and show it to the user
You must also keep an active and open connection to the service the entire time. This is important for two reasons:
- The data feed takes a few seconds to begin because of the prerequisite calls
- This ensures that you receive real-time data
The historical data takes even more time to load. There’s a limit on the number of simultaneous requests that you can make to the service so, you must queue them.
Keeping a continuous connection to the service on a mobile device drains your battery. But, that’s not all — it also negatively affects performance. Thankfully, the architecture that we chose fixes this problem from the beginning. The back-end will handle all the work and the mobile app will only get the final numbers when requested.
Now that we’ve taken care of that problem, it’s time to move on to the next issue. We must find a place on the back-end to keep the information that you are receiving from the service. Since the service is constantly sending updates for the real-time data, we will need a lot of writing. The reading should also be fast to keep up with the different requests coming from the mobile apps.
You may think that a database solution is the answer, but the truth is, it would be overkill. The information will become old in mere milliseconds, which makes it unusable. Plus, pre-requisitions call IDs are different for each session. In other words, if you have to restart the service, your database would become obsolete.
The easiest and most effective solution is to store the data in a dedicated memory cache in the back end server. This will provide you with total control of the process and a fast read/write mechanism. If you manage your data and delete the old data when necessary, memory overuse won’t be a problem.
The Bottom Line
If you would like to create a reliable app, a back-end server is the way to go. When designed to act as an intermediary for 3rd party services, it improves performance as well. They also remove the hassle of continuously parceling out updated versions of the application. Finally, back-end servers help you handle big 3rd party services without compromising app performance.