I need to have a moan about front end development in 2022

Week 245 was posted by Charanjit Chana on 2022-07-04.

When I look back on my career, just over a decade ago I didn't feel there was a realistic path for someone who was a master of CSS. At a crossroad in my career, I took a path that would lead me away from writing CSS professionally and fully into the world of application development.

I was the only one amongst my peers to push responsive design and CSS first solutions. For more than 10 years, CSS has been bulldozed by JavaScript solutions. In part, I'd attribute this trend to Chrome where developers could take JavaScript for granted.

If I had my time again I would have focused fully on CSS. In no way was I master, but I feel like I was more than competent and it's a career path I'd like to have seen. I see a lot of good, no great, CSS experts out there now. Pushing boundaries and really getting to grips with the specification. But it's not enough, they are greatly outweighed by people using and abusing JavaScript and JavaScript driven frameworks.

Libraries like Tailwind are not new, we've had Bootstrap for a long time and it serves a purpose. For me, their primary purpose should be for rapid prototyping.

I wear it as a badge of honour that I have yet to work on a project where I have run npm commands outside of a Raspberry Pi. I’ve largely avoided webpack and grunt and many other tools that feel like overkill for most projects. I get their purpose. I understand how useful they can be and maybe they do enough to level the playing field for a whole team but they're just not for me.

Maybe I’m archaic in my thinking and my approach, but I am happy knowing that the fundamentals of well written CSS and HTML with JavaScript sprinkled where appropriate.

I use SASS often, love it in fact. It makes CSS readable without getting in the way.

In my old role, perhaps there were some tools that might have modernised how we worked but every time we tried we introduced more and more points of failure. Fragile and unsupportable. While we were bound to a front-end JavaScript framework, we kept it simple and shipped often.

For me, improved support for features in browsers is far more important than any fancy new framework. CSS especially is finally getting the attention it's always deserved from vendors. It felt like very little changed between 2002 and 2012 and then all of a sudden we got flexbox. Then we got grid and now we're getting so much more.

If it was down to me, React, Angular and Vue just wouldn't exist. Websites and web applications would be dumb. JavaScript would be for hydration only and CSS would have had it's renaissance 10 years ago.

How different things might have been.


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