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From "Christie, Marcus Aaron" <>
Subject Re: Requirements for an updated portal architecture
Date Wed, 08 Feb 2017 13:57:39 GMT

I think Vue is a great suggestion.  I’m not that familiar with it but from what I’ve seen
it does seem to have a lot of the benefits of React while also being easier to use.

Things I see in favor of React:
* older, more mature. I have to admit I’ve seen a lot of “flavor of the month” JS frameworks
come and go, so I tend to be biased toward older, more established frameworks.
* backed by Facebook whereas Vue is primarily developed by one guy
* the ecosystem around React, for example, things like React Native which could be used to
create native app clients to Airavata while reusing PGA code

Things I see in favor of Vue:
* simpler to get into
* no transpilation required, so the tooling requirements could be much simpler, again making
it easier to get into
* “batteries included”: there is an official vue state management library (vuex), official
router, official cli

I think it would be interesting to try them both, since I don’t have much experience with
React and none with Vue.  Maybe use one for one view and the other for a different view, just
to get a feel for them.  Then it should be easier to make a decision. I also advocate for
separating the JS models and business logic from any framework code so that whatever UI framework
we use is decoupled and just a view layer on top. So switching from one UI framework to another
should be relatively simple.



> On Feb 6, 2017, at 1:08 PM, Reagan, David Michael <> wrote:
> Hi Marcus, devs,
> I'd also suggest taking a look at Vue[1] for the front end. See [2] and [3] for a couple
of comparisons between Vue and React. I haven't used either yet, but from what I understand
they are quite similar. The primary differences seem to be that the React community is larger,
but that Vue is easier to get into. In particular, if a goal for the PGA is for developers
to be able to jump in and quickly customize it to their needs, Vue's HTML templates might
be easier to learn than React's JSX-based component system. It also seems to be easier to
slowly add bits of Vue to a site over time, while React really requires full buy-in from the
> Dave
> [1]
> [2]
> [3]
> --
> David Reagan
> Advanced Visualization Lab
> Indiana University
> The Advanced Visualization Lab is part of the Research Technologies division of UITS;
Research Technologies is a PTI Cyberinfrastructure & Service Center.
> ________________________________________
> From: Christie, Marcus Aaron <>
> Sent: Friday, February 3, 2017 4:31 PM
> To:
> Subject: Requirements for an updated portal architecture
> Dev,
> I’ve been taking feedback from other Airavata developers and working on requirements
for a next generation architecture for the PGA.  First I’ll list out the requirements as
I see them. Then I will propose what I feel is a best fit for these requirements. Feedback
on all of this is much appreciated.
> Requirements
> The following is a list of problems we would like to solve by adopting a new web framework.
 A new web framework here means both the backend framework for server side code as well as
the frontend framework for client side code.
> 1. Have the ability to independently add new views to the portal. Framework should have
some concept of modularity so new functionality can be added without having to make changes
to other parts of the portal. This would facilitate new features moving into production faster.
> 2. Have the ability to make calls to Identity Server (SOAP) and Airavata (Thrift).  Would
be good if there is support for interacting with other remote computing protocols and HPC
> 3. Be themable/skinnable and modular. Gateways should be able to customize the look and
feel and make the portal their own. Gateways should be able to customize the functionality
available in the portal, removing and adding just the functionality tailored for that specific
> 4. The backend framework should support different modes of web development: server-side
rendered views as well as REST API for client side views.
> 5. The backend framework should be able to easily integrate with existing scientific
codes for visualization and analysis. This would allow developing lightweight domain specific
functionality within the portal itself.
> 6. The backend and frontend frameworks should have active communities and some longevity,
helping to ensure continued support in the future.
> 7. The backend and frontend frameworks should have a gentle learning curve to promote
onboarding new contributors. Setting up a local development environment should be relatively
> 8. The frontend framework should allow the development of more sophisticated client side
>        • Domain specific and interactive views for configuring applications and viewing
>        • Domain specific and interactive views for browsing, filtering and managing
remote and personal data collections
>        • More up front validation of application configurations
> Proposed solution
> With these requirements I feel like Django as a backend framework and React as a frontend
framework are the best fit. Here are the benefits I see of adopting Django:
> * Django has a builtin concept of modularity, the application [1].  This would allow
the independent development of new views for new funtionality (req 1) as well as making it
possible to tailor a portal to a gateway’s needs (req 3).
> * Django has a very active community and lots of off the shelf applications [2] that
can be used to either quickly develop common portal functionality or to add gateway specific
> * Being written in Python means that the backend can easily integrate with Python scientific
codes for quick data analysis and visualization tasks
> * A side benefit of a Python based portal is the opportunity to develop a first class
Airavata client in Python. This could enable scripts to take advantage of the Airavata API
or Juptyer like interactions with the API.
> * Django is well-documented and relatively straightforward to work with, easing on-boarding
of new developers
> Regarding React, I see these benefits:
> * React is a much more powerful and scalable approach to web UI development than just
using jQuery, which is what the current PGA uses. With React we can build UIs with a higher
degree of interactivity. And we can build richer, more domain-specific interfaces.
> * Unlike other JS frameworks that have a very large API to learn, the concepts and API
surface of React is fairly small. The main challenge is learning to “think in React” [3]
> Again, feedback on this is much appreciated.
> Thanks,
> Marcus
> [1]
> [2]
> [3]

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