Reactive Programming – Tame the complexity of asynchronous coding

So, you have caught wind of reactive programming, RXjava, responsive extensions and all the promotion around them but you’re not able to get your head around them. You do not know if they are a solid match for your project; whether you should begin utilizing them and where to begin learning. Let’s try to make this easy and simple for you.

With an explosion in both the volume of internet users and the technology powering websites over the years, reactive programming was born as a way of meeting these improved demands for developers. Of course, app development is just as important now and reactive programming is as vital a component in that sphere too.

What is Reactive Programming?

Reactive programming is programming with asynchronous data streams, to be specific, make it responsive. Typical click events are actually asynchronous event streams, on which you can observe and create side effects to make the code easily readable. With Reactive, you are able to create data streams out of anything, not just from events or AJAX calls or Event Buses. To sum up, Reactive programming runs asynchronous data flows between sources of data and components that need to react to that data.

Diagram: RX Observables

Why is being ‘Functional’ important?

Functional reactive programming (or FRP for short) is an asynchronous programming paradigm that allows data flows from one system component to propagate the same changes to other components that have been registered to accept them. Compared to previous programming paradigms, FRP makes it simple to express static or dynamic data flows via the programming language. It came into existence because modern apps and websites needed a way of coding that provided fast, user-friendly results.

On top of the streams, we have an amazing toolbox of functions to combine, create and filter any of those streams. This is when the “functional” thrill kicks in; a stream can be used as an input to another one. In addition, multiple streams can function as inputs to other streams. Furthermore, you can merge two streams and filter a stream to get another one that has only those events you are interested in. You can also map data values from one stream to another new one.

What are the benefits?

There are many reasons why you should use reactive programming as a business or developer.  Some of the most common ones are:

Why use reactive programming?

  1. Asynchronous operations
  2. Smoother UI interactions
  3. Callbacks with Operator Chaining, without that notorious “callback hell”              
  4. Easier complex threading with hustle free concurrency

It is quite clear Reactive programming composes asynchronous operations making smooth UI interactions; here are some of the major benefits you should know:

How does it benefit you?

  1. Enhanced user experience – This is at the very heart of why you should be using reactive programming for your apps or websites. The asynchronous nature of FRP means that whatever you program with it will offer a smoother, more responsive product for your users to interact with.
  2. Easy management – One big bonus with reactive programming is that it is easy to manage as a developer. Blocks of code can be added or removed from individual data streams, which means, you can easily make any amendments via the stream concerned.
  3. Simpler than regular threading – FRP is actually less of a hassle than regular threading due to the way it allows you to work on data streams. Not only is this true for basic threading in an application but also for more complex threading operations, you may need to undertake.

What are the challenges?

While reactive programming is a great tool for developers to use, it does have a couple of challenges to overcome:

  1. Hard to learn – In comparison with the previous ways of working, RP is quite different. This leads to a steep learning curve when you start using it, which may be a shock to some.
  2. Memory leak – When working this way, it can be easy to handle subscriptions within an app or a site incorrectly. This can lead to memory leakage, which could end up seriously slowing things down for users.

In conclusion

Reactive Programming is not easy, and requires tremendous learning, as you will have to move on from imperative programming and begin thinking in a “reactive way”. In a scenario where the code already addresses the issues properly, reactive programming can provide major lines-of-code savings.

We at Nitor believe that Reactive programming brings smoother & quicker programming results and makes user interaction much better. Naturally, this converts into happier customers and more sales for your business.

For more information, please contact marketing@nitorinfotech.com