Firstly, a note on the app I'm about to discuss: It's quite large, on the order of magnitude of a service app like Airbnb -- i.e., it's not just a static web page, it is a full web application. It's in the early stages of development.
Here's the question:
Ease and/or Standardization of Development
The JSTL syntax required to make highly-interactive pages via JSP's is getting awfully unwieldy. I'm worried that, when we expand our project and bring on more engineers, there will be a steep-ish initial learning curve, followed by a persistent slow-down in the dev process due to verbosity of JSTL.
Using JSP's also seems like a less contemporary approach to front-end dev, in light of how many JS frameworks are popular. I'm imagining it'd be tougher to field a team of front-end or full-stack engineers if we build with JSP's.
Should I not worry so much about these issues? Are there pros of server-side rendering with JSP's that outweigh dev concerns? Can you offer a sense of how wide-spread familiarity with JSP dev is?
Server-side rendering has been great for my testing, so far -- but what happens when our app is a massive, historic, global success and downright phenomenon? Will the server get bogged down with all the rendering, if done in JSP's? Or are traffic concerns better addressed by load-balancing requests to the server and leaving the server-side rendering in place?
Maintenance Costs for Server-Side Rendering from a Cloud-hosted Server
Along the lines of the performance concerns above, if the app gets a lot of traffic and is rendering views server-side, won't our bandwidth usage go way up? We'll be deploying on AWS, which is semi-unfamiliar territory for me, but I'm presuming we'll pay according to how much bandwidth we consume. Pushing view rendering duties onto client browsers seems like a cost-effective strategy for a cloud-hosted app such as ours. Am I mistaken in that thinking?
Cross Browser Compatibility
Are there enough compatibility solutions in modern JS frameworks to resolve this concern? Or is server-side rendering the best-bet, in light of the likelihood of running on outdated browsers?
After doing some research on these issues, I've got four strategies in mind, for going forward:
Avoid client-side rendering. Learn to love the JSTL chunkiness, stay with all JSP's.
Mark up all static HTML elements in the JSP's, then populate dynamically generated values/properties/elements according to user interaction (lots of JS, AJAX).
Make a minimal HTML markup in the JSP's, then populate everything in the view with appends to the DOM when the page loads.
Completely migrate away from JSP's, use something like AngularJs.
Basically, all options represent varying degrees of moving away from server-side rendering and towards client-side rendering. Which of these sounds like the best course of action? Is there an option I've overlooked?
It's still early enough in the front-end dev process to integrate completely novel techs, and I'm new enough to web dev that any of the strategies will involve considerable self-teaching, so nothing should be considered off the table. I'm leaning towards solution strategy #2, so far, as this model would be the least drastic change from the current approach. But, in the interest of building in a way that'll make future builds easier, and be the most accessible for collaboration, #4 is also looking good.