Tag: “the

“The Modern Web”

A couple of interesting articles making the rounds:

I like Tom’s assertion that React (which he’s using as a stand-in for JavaScript frameworks in general) has an ideal usage:

There is a sweet spot of React: in moderately interactive interfaces. Complex forms that require immediate feedback, UIs that need to move around and react instantly. That’s where it excels.

If there is anything I hope for the world of web design and development, it’s that we get better at picking the right tools for the job.

I heard several people hone in on this:

I can, for example, guarantee that this blog is faster than any Gatsby blog (and much love to the Gatsby team) because there is nothing that a React static site can do that will make it faster than a non-React static site.

One reaction was hell yes. React is a bunch of JavaScript and it does lots of stuff, but does not grant superpowers that make the web faster than it was without it. Another reaction was: well it actually does. That’s kind of the whole point of SPAs: not needing to reload the page. Instead, we’re able to make a trimmed network request for the new data needed for a new page and re-rendering only what is necessary.

Rich digs into that even more:

When I tap on a link on Tom’s JS-free website, the browser first waits to confirm that it was a tap and not a brush/swipe, then makes a request, and then we have to wait for the response. With a framework-authored site with client-side routing, we can start to do more interesting things. We can make informed guesses based on analytics about which things the user is likely to interact with and preload the logic and data for them. We can kick off requests as soon as the user first touches (or hovers) the link instead of waiting for confirmation of a tap — worst case scenario, we’ve loaded some stuff that will be useful later if they do tap on it. We can provide better visual feedback that loading is taking place and a transition is about to occur. And we don’t need to load the entire contents of the page — often, we can make do with a small bit of JSON because we already have the JavaScript for the page. This stuff gets fiendishly difficult to do by hand.

That’s what makes this stuff so easy to argue about. Everyone has good points. When we try to speak on behalf of the entire web, it’s tough for us all to agree. But the web is too big for broad, sweeping assertions.

Do people reach for React-powered SPAs too much? Probably, but that’s not without reason. There is innovation there that draws people in. The question is, how can we improve it?

From a front-of-the-front-end perspective, the fact that front-end frameworks like React encourage demand us write a front-end in components is compelling all by itself.

There is optimism and pessimism in both posts. The ending sentences of both are starkly different.

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“The title ‘Front-End Developer’ is obsolete.”

That title is from the opening tweet of a thread from Benjamin De Cock. I wouldn’t go that far, myself. What I like about the term is that ‘Front-End’ literally means the browser, and while the job has been changing quite a lot — and is perhaps fracturing before our eyes — the fact that the job is about doing browser work is still true. We’re browser people. This was a point I tried to make in my “Ooooops I guess we’re full-stack developers now” talk.

I really like Benjamin’s sentiment though. There is a scourge of implementations of things on the web that are both heavier and worse because they re-implement something that the browser offers better and “for free.” Think sliders: scrolling behavior, snap points, fixed/sticky positioning, form controls, animation, etc.

Our industry seems to have acknowledged that backend and frontend developers require very different skills (even though they often use the exact same language), and yet it’s struggling to see there’s too much bundled into the term “front-end developer”.

That’s the tricky part. That’s at the heart of The Great Divide. There’s an awful lot of front-end developers where their job solely focuses on JavaScript. You could call them “JavaScript Engineers” or “JavaScript Developers,” and that feels OK. However, I’m not sure what you call someone who’s a great front-end developer, not particularly focused on JavaScript, but is on other aspects of the front end.

The modern frontend developer is most often than not a “Jack of all trades” mastering JS (or even just a framework) and barely tolerating HTML/CSS as a necessary evil. That’s understandable. I strongly think it’s a different specialization, and it’s too much for a single person.

Yep, it’s OK! The divide isn’t a bad thing; it’s just a thing. Front-end teams need JavaScript specialists and CSS specialists and accessibility specialists and performance specialists and animation specialists and internationalization specialists and, and, and, and. They don’t have to all be separate people. People can be good at multiple things. It’s just exceptionally rare that people are good at everything, even when scoped only to front-end skills.

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In Defence of “Serverless” —the term

Ben Ellerby:

For now Serverless, to me at least, manages to do a hard job, defining the borders of a very fluid and complex space of possible solutions in which we can build next-generation architectures. It would help if there was not a framework of the same name, it would help if people didn’t first hear it synonymous with Lambda and it would help if people stopped saying “but you know there are servers…”. That being said, I’ve not heard a better proposal yet!

I like the term (we got the whole site and all) but rather than explain why, I’ll let my most popular tweet of all time take it from here:

Rather than alt text, here’s the whole conversation in the format of the
American Chopper Argument meme.

Why would you call it “serverless” when the architecture is anything but?

They aren’t yours. You don’t manage them. You barely think about them.

I DON’T THINK ABOUT AIR EITHER BUT WE DON’T LIVE IN AN AIRLESS WORLD.

It’s just an effective buzzword. It evokes a whole ecosystem in a single word.

I BET YOU SAY “THE CLOUD” UNIRONICALLY TOO U PLEEB.

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“the closest thing web standards have to a golden rule”

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