The Three A’s – Angular, API and Azure: the Future of the HQ

 

We’ve already announced that the HQ is getting a huge workover some time ago. Now we want to share some specifics on how the shiny new HQ will look like from the technical perspective.
Over the past year, we have been busy refactoring the application’s Core so that we can make use of a new, more robust application architecture.
So, „The Three A’s“ is what we call our new technology stack: Angular, API, Azure.

 

Angular

Angular is a web application framework developed by Google over the past years and was recently released in its second version. The framework makes it very easy for developers to create beautiful, fast and rich web applications that run on any modern browser, including mobile devices.

Where our current web technology needs to reload the entire page and all the data when the user navigates, a front-end technology like Angular only needs to load the data that has changed in the background. This means that many operations will feel instant to the user and significant loading time will be a thing of the past! To achieve this, the new user interface is completely decoupled from the data logic and needs a powerful API to retrieve and manipulate the user’s data.

We have been experimenting with the framework and are so thrilled by the user experience it will bring to the new HQ that we recently joined the worldwide Angular community. While we are building the new HQ, we rely on the support and experience of these experts and would like to give something back, for example by sponsoring the AngularConnect conference in London as well as hosting the Hamburg Angular meetup in our office. Lucas held a talk about creating and consuming a component library in Angular and I shared our learnings and impressions of the AngularConnect conference 2016.

Angular Meetup in the HQ office

 

API

Our API (Application Programming Interface) is designed to become the most powerful part of the HQ. It allows standardized access to the data and business logic of the customer’s system. Not only can customers and developers use the API to extend the functionality of their HQ, also the new HQ user interface will communicate entirely via the API.

Separating the user interface from data and business logic makes a lot of sense for many reasons, including better maintainability, separation of concerns as well as independent release cycles. But most of all, in comparison to our current technology stack, it allows for asynchronous operations in the user interface, which is the expected user experience of a modern web application. Ideally, the user should no longer experience load times for each operation since the data is exchanged asynchronously between browser and API.

Some of our customers have already started to build custom integrations where they export data from the HQ or import data continuously from other business software to their HQ. And we expect to see a lot more usage of the API by our customers in the future.

If you want to learn more about the capabilities of our API, check out our API documentation pages.

HQ API Documentation

 

Azure

As announced lately, the HQ will soon be hosted in new data centers operated by T-Systems in Germany on the basis of Microsoft Azure. Azure is Microsoft’s cloud platform which provides hosting and infrastructure services for modern web applications . Microsoft recently announced the availability in German data centers operated by Deutsche Telekom / T-Systems, which adhere to German and European data and privacy laws. This finally makes it possible for German companies to securely host their applications and data on Azure on behalf of their customers.

Microsoft Azure, and other cloud operators, provide Platform-as-a-Service and Infrastructure-as-a-Service components that are highly available and scalable as well as very easy to maintain. The HQ web application is hosted in a redundant, load-balanced application container that requires only little maintenance, freeing lots of our time for other important tasks, like developing new features. Azure also takes care of backing up data in a more redundant and fail-safe way that makes data loss impossible. Since each individual component of our cloud architecture only fulfills a single purpose very well, we expect this to improve the overall performance of the new HQ.

Once on a modern cloud platform, we are looking forward to integrate more of the hosted services that Azure offers. For example, big data storages and machine learning tools like Hadoop-as-a-Service will soon improve the way we aggregate data for our customers and increase the insights into their operations. And all this comes from servers hosted in Germany with German data protection laws.
We already announced the move to Azure to our customers in our continuous efforts of improving the reliability, availability and performance our the HQ. We will share more about our migration efforts in an upcoming post.

Azure Dashboard

 

These are only the most important pillars of the new HQ software architecture and there are many more under the hood. Our previous series about refactoring the applications covers some of these. Go and check it out!

Got any questions or feedback? Sound off in the comments below.


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