Today’s users are increasingly demanding. They switch back and forth between devices, and enter your websites a variety of different ways. They navigate in unexpected ways, and search for unexpected things. How can you offer all of these users an experience that is both positive and consistent? Reactive programming is the solution. This new programming paradigm is useful for a variety of things, most particularly delivering a stellar experience on your websites to all users at any time of the day and under any circumstances.
(Functional) Reactive Programming Defined
Reactive programming (which you will also see referred to as functional reactive programming) is, simply put, programming for asynchronous data streams. Though this is sort of what happens when you delve into click and hover events, true reactive programming goes far beyond this limited functionality. The ultimate goal is to be responsive to each user, and to deliver their particular desired experience. It also has to be scalable, resilient, and needs to be message-driven.
Uses for Reactive Programming
Reactive programming involves looking at programming a little differently. It allows you to develop website experiences tailored to various devices, and to provide an experience that remains constant and consistent even when usage spikes or when systems are unavailable. For example, a smartphone user with a less than stellar connection ought to get a good user experience, just as a desktop user logging in at midnight when very few other users are online. Reactive programming also allows you to deliver a tailored, message-driven experience when your database is down.
Reactive programming gives you the ability to tailor an experience according to how a user interacts with your website. For example, those users who enter via a Google search might have little or no understanding of what your website is about. These users need to be delivered different content than those who click on a link via social media or from one of your blog posts. The second group of users has already expressed an interest in your website, and therefore need a different set of information. You can also tailor the experience according to the keywords they entered, what they are actually searching for, what other content they might have read on your website, etc.
Training Reactive Programmers
As with most innovations, the educational system is responding to the growing demand for programmers with reactive programming skills. Many experienced programmers have self-taught the art of reactive programming, so don’t assume that new graduates are your only options for garnering these skills. Another option is to train your existing IT help desk workers in this skill.
There are various online programs that offer an excellent course for teaching reactive programming. A number of books are available, but do your homework before selecting one. Some of the books focus on the overall concepts, while others delve into the nitty gritty technical details. It might be advisable to invest in multiple books, as not all techies learn exactly the same way.
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