Best practices for using accelerators

This topic tells you about the benefits, and design considerations for accelerators.

Benefits of using an accelerator

There are several good reasons to develop accelerators:

  • If you’re repeatedly using the same application architecture for new applications.
  • To enforce standardization of technology stacks and application setups throughout your organization.
  • To share best practices around application architecture, application, and test setup.

Design considerations

Each accelerator must have only one base technology stack, combined with related tooling, and one target architecture. For example, if you use both Spring Boot and C# .NET Core applications in your target environment, you must set up two separate accelerators. Mixing multiple technology stacks and multiple target architectures makes both the directory structure and acceleratory.YAML unreadable.

The scope of your accelerator must align with your different types of deployments. For example, back-end API, front-end UI, business service, and so on.

Choose OpenRewrite-based transformation over ReplaceText-based transformation when possible. OpenRewrite-based transformations understand the semantics of the files they work on, for example, Maven pom.xml or Java source files. OpenRewrite-based transformations also provide more accurate and robust modifications. As a last resort, ReplaceText supports a regex mode. When used with capturing groups in the replacement string, ReplaceText allows most modifications.

Housekeeping rules

VMware has found that the following rules keep the set of accelerators clear and findable for end users:

  • Use an intuitive name and short description that reflects the accelerators purpose. The word ‘accelerator’ must not be in the name.
  • Use an appropriate and intuitive icon.
  • Use tags that reflect language, framework, and type of service. For example, database, messaging, and so on. This helps when searching for an accelerator by tags. Tag names must use lowercase letters, consist of [a-z0-9+#] separated by [-], and not exceed 63 characters.
  • Accelerators must expose options to allow configuring an accelerator for different use cases instead of creating multiple similar accelerators.
  • Options must be straightforward, the description of each clearly stating the role it plays in the accelerator. Options must have default values when appropriate.
  • Options must be short so that they are easy to navigate. Make options conditional on other options as appropriate.
  • Free text options that have limitations on their values must ensure these limitations are met by a regular expression-based validation. This validation ensures early feedback on invalid user input.
  • Generated application skeletons must have a detailed README file that describes the function and structure of a generated application. It must provide detailed information about how developers can build and deploy a generated application of the accelerator and how to use it.


Application skeleton

An accelerator that generates an application skeleton without a good test suite for the different layers of the application promotes bad behavior. It could result in code running in production without testing.

Tests you could use for the application skeleton:

  • An overall application test that bootstraps the application to see if it comes online.
  • A test per layer of the application. For example, presentation layer, business layer, and data layer. These tests can be unit tests that leverage stubbing or mocking frameworks.
  • An integration test per layer of the application, especially the presentation and data layer. For example, you can provide an integration test with some database interaction by using test containers.
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