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Joost van der Schee
Joost van der Schee

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Long live the lean web

The following text is a Twitter thread from Thomas Fuchs. Every web developer should have read this. He posted it in November 2017 and it becomes more valuable every year. Chris Ferdinandy even wrote a whole book about it. Thomas ended the thread with the title of this post: 'Long live the lean web'.

It’s a weird dichotomy: the more capable underlying web tech gets (CSS features, HTML canvas, etc.) the more larger and more complex frameworks on top of it become. If you actually use the underlying improvements directly you’ll notice that you need less and less JavaScript. I noticed that in our new app. We get so much more done with a lot less scripting especially because of newer CSS features like flexbox, calc, vw/vh units, compositing modes, etc. Most of the scripting has to do with progressive enhancement, rather than making basic stuff work. This has so many positive effects:

  • Much improved load times, especially on mobile
  • no lock-in to a client-side framework
  • simpler HTML structure
  • Less code = easier to debug
  • Get more done faster with a smaller team
  • Almost no cross-browser issues anymore

I’m hoping for a second renaissance for the Web, like the one we had after we collectively decided that we don’t want Flash no more. That will happen when people realize that ginormous lock-in client-side “browser-in-a-browser” frameworks aren’t necessary to make great apps.

Less is more.
Brevity is the soul of wit.


A huge fan

I have been advocating this lean web for quite a while now. I was interviewed recently about artisanal web development by David Large from CloudCannon, where I advocated passionately for less code (and writing this code yourself). Additionally, I posted an article on how to get a 100% Google Lighthouse score, which has generated quite a bit of attention. My trick to get to these perfect scores is to stop using frameworks. This is in line with the lean web. I also wrote a post about the Jamstack report from 2021, where we can see that Jamstack websites (on average) became terribly slow as a result of using insane amounts of Javascript. The lean web has clear advantages.

You can never give too much credits, hence this post. I aim to be a part of the second renaissance Thomas dreams of. Let's make it happen! Long live the lean web!

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