Request Response: A deep dive into backend communication design pattern

Ritik Chourasiya
12 min readMay 3, 2023

Hello and welcome to this blog post about the Request-Response Design Pattern! In the world of backend development, communication between different components of a system is crucial. It’s like the neurons in our brain — they need to communicate with each other in order to perform complex tasks.

Now, let’s talk about the Request-Response Design Pattern. It’s a common design pattern used in backend development to facilitate communication between different components of a system. In a nutshell, it involves a sender sending a request to a receiver, and the receiver sending a response back to the sender.

But why is it important to understand this design pattern? Well, as a backend developer, understanding this pattern will allow you to design more efficient and reliable systems. It can also help you troubleshoot issues that arise during development.

Throughout this blog post, I’ll take a deep dive into the Request-Response Design Pattern. We’ll cover the basics, different types, and practical examples of how it’s used in real-world scenarios. We’ll also explore the key considerations and steps involved in implementing this pattern.

So, whether you’re new to backend development or a seasoned pro, I hope this blog post will help you better understand the Request-Response Design Pattern and how to use it effectively in your projects. Let’s get started!

Table of Contents:

Introduction

Understanding Request-Response Design Pattern

Different Types of Request-Response Design Pattern

Request-Response Pattern in Practice

Implementing Request-Response Pattern

Conclusion

References

Section 1: Understanding Request-Response Design Pattern

Before we dive into the different types and practical examples of the Request-Response Design Pattern, let’s start by defining and explaining the basics of the pattern.

At its core, the Request-Response Design Pattern is a communication pattern between different components of a system. It involves a sender sending a request message to a receiver, and the receiver responding with a corresponding response message. The request and response messages contain information that the sender and receiver need to perform their respective tasks.

There are four key components to this pattern: the sender, the receiver, the request message, and the response message. The sender is the component that initiates the request message and sends it to the receiver. The receiver, on the other hand, is the component that receives the request message and generates a response message. The request message contains the information that the sender wants to send to the receiver, while the response message contains the information that the receiver wants to send back to the sender.

So, what are the benefits of using the Request-Response Design Pattern? Well, for one, it’s a simple and easy-to-understand pattern that is widely used in backend development. It’s also a reliable pattern that ensures that requests and responses are delivered in a timely and efficient manner. Additionally, the pattern can be used in a variety of contexts, from simple one-way communication to more complex two-way communication.

To better understand how the Request-Response Design Pattern works, let’s take an example. Imagine you’re building an e-commerce website that allows customers to place orders. When a customer places an order, the front-end component of your system sends a request message to the back-end component.

The request message contains information about the order, such as the customer’s name and shipping address. The back-end component receives the request message, processes the order, and generates a response message that contains information about the order status, such as whether the order was successful or not. The response message is then sent back to the front-end component, which displays the order status to the customer.

Request Response Design Pattern

That’s a simple example of the Request-Response Design Pattern in action. As you can see, it’s a straightforward and efficient way for different components of a system to communicate with each other. In the next section, we’ll explore the different types of Request-Response Design Pattern and how they’re used in different contexts.

Section 2: Different Types of Request-Response Design Pattern

Now that we understand the basics of the Request-Response Design Pattern, let’s take a look at the different types of this pattern. There are four main types of Request-Response Design Pattern: synchronous vs asynchronous, simplex vs duplex, one-way vs two-way, and publish-subscribe vs request-response.

👉Synchronous vs Asynchronous: The first type is synchronous vs asynchronous. In synchronous communication, the sender waits for a response from the receiver before continuing its task. In asynchronous communication, the sender does not wait for a response and can continue with its task immediately after sending the request. Synchronous communication is useful in situations where a response is needed immediately, while asynchronous communication is useful in situations where the sender doesn’t want to wait for a response.

👉Simplex vs Duplex: The second type is simplex vs duplex. In simplex communication, data flows in only one direction, from sender to receiver. In duplex communication, data can flow in both directions, from sender to receiver and vice versa. Simplex communication is useful in situations where data only needs to flow in one direction, while duplex communication is useful in situations where data needs to flow in both directions.

👉One-Way vs Two-Way: The third type is one-way vs two-way. In one-way communication, the sender sends a message to the receiver and does not expect a response. In two-way communication, the sender sends a message to the receiver and expects a response. One-way communication is useful in situations where the sender only needs to send a message and doesn’t need a response, while two-way communication is useful in situations where the sender needs to receive a response.

👉Publish-Subscribe vs Request-Response: The fourth type is publish-subscribe vs request-response. In publish-subscribe communication, a publisher sends a message to one or more subscribers, who receive the message. In request-response communication, a sender sends a message to a specific receiver and receives a response. Publish-subscribe communication is useful in situations where multiple subscribers need to receive the same message, while request-response communication is useful in situations where a specific sender and receiver need to communicate with each other.

Each type of Request-Response Design Pattern has its own advantages and disadvantages, and choosing the right type for your project depends on your specific requirements and constraints. In the next section, we’ll explore practical examples of how the Request-Response Design Pattern is used in real-world scenarios.

Section 3: Practical Examples of Request-Response Design Pattern

Now that we have a good understanding of the Request-Response Design Pattern and its different types, let’s explore some practical examples of how this pattern is used in real-world scenarios.

👉Example 1: REST APIs: One common use of the Request-Response Design Pattern is in the implementation of REST APIs. In a REST API, a client sends a request to a server, which generates a response. The request message contains information about the resource the client wants to access or modify, and the response message contains the requested information or confirmation of a successful update. REST APIs use the HTTP protocol to communicate between client and server, and can be either synchronous or asynchronous depending on the specific implementation.

👉Example 2: Messaging Systems: Another use case for the Request-Response Design Pattern is in messaging systems. Messaging systems allow different components of a system to communicate with each other asynchronously. In this scenario, the sender component sends a message to a message queue or broker, which then sends the message to the appropriate receiver component. The receiver component then generates a response message and sends it back to the message queue or broker, which then sends it back to the sender component. Messaging systems can be useful in distributed systems where components are physically separated and need to communicate asynchronously.

👉Example 3: Remote Procedure Calls (RPCs): Remote Procedure Calls (RPCs) are another example of how the Request-Response Design Pattern is used in practice. In an RPC, a client sends a request to a server to perform a specific task or operation. The server processes the request and generates a response message, which contains the result of the operation. RPCs can be synchronous or asynchronous and can be useful in situations where a client needs to call a function or method on a remote server.

👉Example 4: Websockets: Websockets are another example of how the Request-Response Design Pattern can be used. In a Websocket, a client establishes a persistent connection with a server, which allows for bidirectional communication between the two components. The client and server can send messages back and forth, with each message containing information that the other component needs to perform its tasks. Websockets are commonly used in real-time applications such as chat applications, online gaming, and stock trading platforms.

Section 4: Implementing Request-Response Pattern using Node.js

In this section, we will explore how to implement the Request-Response Design Pattern using Node.js. Node.js is a popular open-source JavaScript runtime environment that allows developers to build fast and scalable backend systems.

1. Define the Interface: To implement the Request-Response Design Pattern using Node.js, you need to define the interface between the sender and receiver components. This includes specifying the data format, message structure, and communication protocol.

2. Implement the Sender: In Node.js, you can implement the sender component using the built-in http or https modules. These modules allow you to send HTTP or HTTPS requests to the receiver component. Here's an example code snippet:

const https = require('https');

const options = {
hostname: 'www.example.com',
port: 443,
path: '/resource',
method: 'GET'
};

const req = https.request(options, (res) => {
console.log(`statusCode: ${res.statusCode}`);

res.on('data', (d) => {
process.stdout.write(d);
});
});

req.on('error', (error) => {
console.error(error);
});

req.end();

In this example, we are sending an HTTPS GET request to www.example.com/resource. The https.request method takes an options object that specifies the hostname, port, path, and HTTP method. The req object is a writable stream that represents the request body. Finally, we call the req.end() method to send the request.

3. Implement the Receiver: In Node.js, you can implement the receiver component using the built-in http or https modules. These modules allow you to create HTTP or HTTPS servers that listen for incoming requests. Here's an example code snippet:

const https = require('https');
const fs = require('fs');

const options = {
key: fs.readFileSync('key.pem'),
cert: fs.readFileSync('cert.pem')
};

https.createServer(options, (req, res) => {
res.statusCode = 200;
res.setHeader('Content-Type', 'text/plain');
res.end('Hello, World!\n');
}).listen(443);

In this example, we are creating an HTTPS server that listens on port 443. The https.createServer method takes an options object that specifies the SSL key and certificate files. The callback function is called for each incoming request and is responsible for sending a response back to the sender.

4. Implement the Request Handler: In Node.js, you can implement the request handler component using middleware functions. Middleware functions are functions that have access to the request and response objects and can modify them as needed. Here’s an example code snippet:

const express = require('express');
const app = express();

app.use(express.json());

app.post('/api/users', (req, res) => {
const user = req.body;
// process user data
res.json({ message: 'User created successfully' });
});

app.listen(3000, () => {
console.log('Server started on port 3000');
});

In this example, we are using the express framework to implement the request handler component. The app.use method is used to add middleware functions to the application. The app.post method is used to handle POST requests to /api/users. The callback function extracts the user data from the request body and sends a response back to the sender.

5. Implement the Response Handler: In Node.js, you can implement the response handler component using callback functions. Callback functions are functions that are called when a certain event occurs, such as when a request is completed. Here’s an example code snippet:

function sendRequest(options, callback) {
const req = https.request(options, (res) => {
let data = '';
res.on('data', (chunk) => {
data += chunk;
});
res.on('end', () => {
callback(null, data);
});
});

req.on('error', (error) => {
callback(error);
});

req.end();
}

const options = {
hostname: 'www.example.com',
port: 443,
path: '/resource',
method: 'GET'
};

sendRequest(options, (error, data) => {
if (error) {
console.error(error);
} else {
console.log(data);
}
});

In this example, we are defining a sendRequest function that takes an options object and a callback function. The function sends an HTTPS request using the https.request method and passes the response data to the callback function when the response is complete.

6. Implementing the Request-Response Pattern: To implement the Request-Response Pattern using Node.js, you need to combine the sender, receiver, request handler, and response handler components. Here’s an example code snippet that demonstrates how to do this:

const https = require('https');

function sendRequest(options, requestData, callback) {
const req = https.request(options, (res) => {
let data = '';
res.on('data', (chunk) => {
data += chunk;
});
res.on('end', () => {
callback(null, data);
});
});

req.on('error', (error) => {
callback(error);
});

req.write(requestData);
req.end();
}

const options = {
hostname: 'www.example.com',
port: 443,
path: '/api/users',
method: 'POST',
headers: {
'Content-Type': 'application/json'
}
};

const requestData = JSON.stringify({
username: 'johndoe',
email: 'johndoe@example.com'
});

sendRequest(options, requestData, (error, data) => {
if (error) {
console.error(error);
} else {
console.log(data);
}
});

In this example, we are defining a sendRequest function that sends a POST request to www.example.com/api/users with some JSON data. The function uses the https.request method to send the request and passes the response data to the callback function when the response is complete. We then call the sendRequest function with the options object and the request data to send the request and receive the response.

Section 5: Advantages and Disadvantages of Request-Response Design Pattern

Like any software design pattern, the Request-Response Design Pattern has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a closer look at some of these:

👉 Advantages:

  1. Simple and Easy to Implement: The Request-Response Design Pattern is easy to understand and implement, making it a popular choice for developers.
  2. Scalable: This pattern can be scaled up easily by adding more nodes to the network, making it ideal for large systems with high traffic volumes.
  3. Versatile: The different types of this pattern allow for versatility in the implementation, making it adaptable to different use cases and scenarios.
  4. Secure: By design, the Request-Response Design Pattern allows for secure communication between components of a system, as each request and response message can be encrypted and verified.

👉 Disadvantages:

  1. Limited Performance: In some cases, the Request-Response Design Pattern can lead to decreased performance due to the overhead of creating and managing request and response messages.
  2. Increased Complexity: As a system grows in complexity, managing and tracking the various request and response messages can become more difficult, leading to increased complexity.
  3. Reliance on Network: The Request-Response Design Pattern relies heavily on the network for communication between components, which can be a disadvantage in situations where the network is slow or unreliable.
  4. Synchronization Issues: Synchronization issues can occur when the sender is waiting for a response and the receiver is busy processing other requests, leading to potential performance issues and delays.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the Request-Response Pattern is a widely used design pattern in backend communication that allows for efficient and scalable communication between different components of an application. It provides a simple and effective way for one component to send a request to another component and receive a response.

We discussed the key concepts of the Request-Response Pattern, including the components involved and the communication flow between them. We also covered the advantages of using this pattern, such as its ability to decouple components, improve scalability, and provide a clear separation of concerns.

Furthermore, we provided examples of how to implement the Request-Response Pattern in different programming languages, including Node.js. We demonstrated how to define the interface, implement the sender, receiver, request handler, and response handler components, and combine them to implement the Request-Response Pattern.

In conclusion, the Request-Response Pattern is a useful and powerful design pattern that is worth understanding and incorporating into your backend communication architecture. By decoupling components and improving scalability, this pattern can help make your application more efficient and maintainable.

References:

Some references that you can use to learn more about the Request-Response Pattern and its implementation in different programming languages are:

By studying these references, you can gain a deeper understanding of the Request-Response Pattern and how to implement it in your own application.

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Ritik Chourasiya

I’m a 22 year old, still undergraduate backend developer based in India, with 2 years of experience in the software development industry.