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Discussion on: The web without the web

oenonono profile image

Yeah. React within the Node.js/npm ecosystem (much as I do like this or that about them) is the worst thing to happen to the the web and to frontend development in the 20 years I have been doing it. It wouldn't be so bad if it were less popular. If it were just one somewhat crappy option among several others, any of which had a nearly equal chance of being chosen, the web and frontend development might be okay.

But people really think it's the best. They think it's the best because it's so popular and because they hear that it rescued frontend development. They hear frontend development before React was awful. Newer developers are especially vulnerable to this bullshit narrative. Full stack developers or frontend developers who were educated and trained more like backend developers who have no idea what it's really like to develop for the web without trying to shoehorn it into traditional software engineering are understandably serving their own interests. Though they should be serving the end user instead, because that's what frontend is.

Because React isn't especially good and we know now exactly why and how. A few of years after it came out was its peak. Then new options took the best parts of React and gave back things React traded away. Bundle size, for example. Restored ladders, for example.

I see no reason to use React for a new project. If a company promised me I'd never have to use React again, I would let them hire me in a heartbeat. React chased all the people I loved working with away from web development. I managed, but its strong impact on web development has ripple effects that have slowly ground all the joy from my work. I also started as a designer, and can't work with design as effectively anymore. The products I work on have nice aesthetics, but that's the only real quality they give end users. Performance sucks, perceptual loading sucks, they eat bandwidth and device battery life, they lack resiliency to the various issues that go wrong with distributed UIs transferred over networks, they're responsive only in name, they're inaccessible, they're ridiculously huge and complex when the features are simple, etc.

And I, alone, can't do anything about it. I'm fighting the tsunami of React and of thinking of web frontend like it's backend or native. I'm just some old CSS person fighting progress in their minds. No one else mentors them about the unique needs of the web, about accessibility, or about empowering non engineers with the ability to contribute directly to production! It's different from their JavaScript comfort zone and they just want to be like their JavaScript thoughtleader idols, why do I have to nag them about stuff no one else cares about?

It's ironic, since the lack of available mentorship in these areas has been blamed for the situation. Those mentors? Bay area tech culture and its cargo cults ran them out of town with pitchforks.