The Frameworks Paradox
The more complex a website, the bigger the need for a framework, the less effective an external framework.
This is not new, and not even a paradox because an internal—homemade—HTML/CSS framework is always an option. However, it’s an often missed fact that external frameworks, no matter their short-term advantages, come with many problems down the road.
You know best the needs for your projects, and from a certain complexity on, an external framework inevitably means lower quality at a higher cost compared to an internal framework.
At its core, the situation has not changed since 2015, when The Little Book of HTML/CSS Frameworks was released (cf. the updated German edition from 2019). Yet I wonder how much time we have until web developers don’t even write their own style sheets anymore—let alone frameworks.
Update (April 22, 2020)
As I’ve said elsewhere, the frameworks paradox is exactly why at Google we developed Go and Maia (the internal, not well-known HTML/CSS frameworks), why Twitter created Bootstrap, why Facebook developed React, &c. pp.
At a certain complexity you need your own solution—a solution tailored to your needs.
In an ironic twist (or, as this post wants, paradoxically), internal frameworks that were made available externally have blurred the understanding of what frameworks are, what they’re there for, and when they’re needed and not needed. This may not implicate you—but it definitely implicates our field.
I’m Jens, and I’m an engineering lead and author. I’ve worked as a technical lead for companies like Google, I’m close to W3C and WHATWG, and I write and review books for O’Reilly and Frontend Dogma. I love trying things, not only in web development, but also in other areas like philosophy. Here on meiert.com I share some of my views and experiences.
If you have a question or suggestion about what I write, please leave a comment (if available) or a message. Thank you!
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