@WalmartLabs applies Electrode to get current with web dev

The React/Node platform makes Walmart's website sing

@WalmartLabs – which practices deviant punctuation and develops software for the retail giant that bears its name – on Monday released Electrode, an open-source platform for building universal React/Node.js applications.

Walmart.com now runs on Electrode, at least in part. Since January, @WalmartLabs has been helping Walmart.com, which consists of about two dozen applications, migrate from Handlebars.js, Backbone.js, and Java to React (Facebook's popular UI framework) and Node.js.

The transition was about a third complete in July, when Alex Grigoryan, director of software engineering for application platforms at @WalmartLabs, estimated that within three months, 98 per cent of traffic to the website would flow through React and Node components. The website for Sam's Club, owned by Walmart, should complete a similar transition by the end of the year.

The reason @WalmartLabs changed technological horses midstream, Grigoryan explained at the Node.js Summit over the summer, is because the company wanted an up-to-date technological foundation that provided better scalability, better performance, better productivity, and reusability of components.

The fact that Walmart.com is handling 80 million monthly visitors, 10,000 requests per second, and some 15 million items suggests Electrode's scalability at least won't disappoint.

Walmart.com's performance has improved too, Grigoryan says. The home page, a server-side rendered page, now loads 20 per cent faster. Similarly, the login page is 15 per cent faster. Pages previously rendered client-side and now rendered server-side have shown speed improvements of up to 30 per cent, while JavaScript bundle sizes have been reduced 20 per cent.

The Electrode platform has made @WalmartLabs developers more productive, claims Grigoryan. "We're able to on-board our engineers the same day that they join @WalmartLabs," he writes. "Most engineers are able to release code within a few days of their start date."

Previously, developer training took five days and it was about a week before new developers committed any code.

Component reusability also improves productivity, Grigoryan suggests, through reduced time to market.

Grigoryan highlights Electrode's organizational benefits, as well. Developing in the JavaScript world, at least the corner occupied by React and Node, can be something of a mess. There's seemingly no end to the number of libraries, frameworks, packages, modules, and tools that can work their way into projects.

Electrode Boilerplate includes many of these technologies out of the box, thereby allowing developers to spend less time configuring projects and more time writing code. ®

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