The Best Cocktail in Town

Programming - Mar 31, 2024

I admit I’ve held in a lot of pent-up frustration about the direction web development has taken the past few years. There is the complexity. It requires a steep learning curve. It focuses more on more configuration than it does development.

That’s not exactly great news for folks like me who consider themselves to be more on the design side of the front-end spectrum. I remember grimacing the first time I found myself using a Grunt workflow on a project. Now, how I long for the “simplicity” of those days.

That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed experimenting with new development workflows and frameworks. I actually find Vue to be pretty pleasant. But I think that might have to do with the fact that it’s organized in a HTML-CSS-JS structure that feels familiar and that it works with straight-up HTML.

I’m finding myself rekindling my love for a development workflow that’s as close to a vanilla combination of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript as I can get. Everything generally compiles back to these languages anyway. CSS has gotten more complex, yes, but it has also gotten more powerful and empowering (hello, CSS grid, custom properties, and calc!) to the point that using a preprocessor requires an intentional choice for me. And JavaScript? Yeah, it done got big, but it’s getting nicer to write all the time.

HTML, CSS, and JavaScript: it’s still the best cocktail in town.

If there’s one new thing in the dev landscape that’s caught my attention more than anything in the past year, it’s the evolution of JAMstack. Hot dang if it isn’t easier to deploy sites and changes to them while getting continuous delivery and a whole lot of performance value to boot. Plus, it abstracts server work to the extent that I no longer feel beholden to help from a back-end developer to set me up with different server environments, fancy testing tools, and deployment integrations. It’s all baked into an online dashboard that I can configure in a matter of minutes. All hail the powerful front-end developer!

I’ve been building websites for nearly 20 years and I feel like the last five have seen the most changes in the way we develop for the web. Progressive web apps? Bundlers and tree-shaking? Thinking in components? Serverless? Yes, it’s a crazy time for an old dog like me to learn new tricks, but it brings a level of excitement I haven’t experienced since learning code the View Source way.

That’s why I still find myself loving and using a classic workflow as much as I can in 2019, but can still appreciate the new treats we’ve gotten in recent years and how they open my mind up to new possibilities that challenge the status quo.


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