Is isomorphic JavaScript programming still a thing?

Wrangling your code on both the server side and client side of your site or app is a major difficulty in JavaScript (JS) development. Full-stack JS developers have mastered working on a project’s front and back ends, but many people rely on JS libraries and frameworks that have already been developed to simplify the job. 

Isomorphic JavaScript is one of the solutions that simplify matters. Many believe the benefits of isomorphic JavaScript are setting it up to be the platform of the future. That’s why isomorphic JavaScript programming is still a thing, and it’s something you will want to consider learning if you haven’t already.

What is isomorphic JavaScript? 

Isomorphic JavaScript refers to server-side and browser-based JavaScript applications. The word originates in mathematics, where a property is said to be “context invariant” if it is stable even when its surrounding environment is altered. That’s why the code for isomorphic JavaScript is the same whether executed in the backend or the front end. Another term is ‘holy grail’ used to describe the isomorphic JavaScript framework for building successful websites and apps.

Why developers utilize isomorphic JavaScript

In a 2017 Developer Talk Report Google Engineer and Packt creator Matt Frisbie explained how the isomorphic JavaScript framework can achieve faster-perceived load times and easier code maintenance. Ever since then isomorphic libraries have been embraced by some of the biggest websites today such as Netflix, Facebook, and Airbnb for use in developing their respective JS applications.

Compared to the “conventional” method, there are a few key benefits to using isomorphic JavaScript. 

Quick page loads

Since they share a common code base, isomorphic JavaScript apps load pages quickly because no client-side JavaScript needs to be loaded and parsed. Though it may only take a second, a sluggish load time can cause a user to become frustrated and abandon the site. A better user experience can be guaranteed by using an isomorphic app that can render HTML content in the browser quickly rather than a conventional one.

Easier development and maintenance

The performance benefits of isomorphic JavaScript extend beyond your end users. You can save time and effort during development if you use a single framework for both the client and the server. Maintenance is also easier, saving developers time over the long run. 

What tools are needed to work with isomorphic JavaScript?

There are a lot of JS libraries that can be used if you’re working with isomorphic JavaScript. Meteor, a full-stack JavaScript framework, is one of the best and most powerful solutions for isomorphic JS. In Meteor, with just ten lines of JavaScript you can accomplish what would require a thousand lines of code in another framework. With Meteor, you won’t have to worry about assembling a separate set of libraries and tools; it comes with everything you need already built in.

Some JS libraries are more niche. Rendr is an additional Airbnb-made library that focuses on isomorphic data structures. The Airbnb mobile web app, which features extremely fast page loads thanks to Rendr, was built using Backbone.js and Handlebars.js, two of the most popular single-page app frameworks.

Because of its ability to remain a library rather than a framework, Rendr can be integrated into your stack in whatever way you see fit and offers more flexibility than a comprehensive option like Meteor.

Final word on whether isomorphic programming is still a thing

Evisio doesn’t use isomorphic JavaScript in our web app, but many other sites do. It’s definitely still a hot topic for developers, and there’s no sign that it’s popularity is going to diminish any time soon.

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