Jens Oliver Meiert

Frameworks, Libraries, and the Modern Web Developer: Web Development, Overdone

Post from July 28, 2017 (↻ May 18, 2018), filed under .

It’s exciting to be in our field, web development, almost since its inception, and to see it evolve. There’s no shortage in interesting challenges, yet here I wish to point to a more recent one, the problem of abstraction through frameworks and libraries and, generally, tools.

What’s going on? I believe that Jose Aguinaga has done a fantastic job showing the problem with his parody, How It Feels to Learn JavaScript in 2016 (please check it now if you haven’t done so yet); Drew Hamlett I’d name for a dryer account of another specific aspect of the situation when he wrote, in The Sad State of Web Development, how “the Web (specifically the JavaScript/Node community) has created some of the most complicated, convoluted, over-engineered tools ever conceived.” I’ll be brief; many more have written about our troubles.

So what is the problem, what are our troubles? The problem is the one of web developers relying more and more—and too much—on frameworks and libraries and tools rather than knowing how to write native HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, as well as how to write maintainable code; we’re raising tool-dependent rather than self-reliant developers. It’s the problem of us having slipped into a downward spiral, when we look to hire people fluent in Bootstrap, jQuery, and Less, rather than knowing how to write tailored quality code themselves; and to hire more tool-versed developers to solve problems we only have because of Bootstrap, jQuery, Less, and all those other tools.

The abstraction, then, consists of frameworks and libraries and tools being mistaken for and—for all practical decisions like training and hiring—taking on the role of core technologies; and while it’s not that we don’t need or shouldn’t use frameworks and libraries and tools, the situation we’re in now requires us to focus more on the underlying technologies again (including cleaning them up) and to keep our sights on our craft and, you name it,—tailored quality for the long run.

Does this feel like some hush-hush hurry-hurry job to you, too? I had this in my drafts for a while but I can’t bring up the motivation to rewrite it. And I believe something much more exciting is going to complement this post quite nicely—stay tuned. And so it must do, for a little moment. ✨

About the Author

Jens Oliver Meiert, photo of September 22, 2018.

Jens Oliver Meiert is an author and developer (O’Reilly, W3C, ex-Google). He plays with philosophy, art, and adventure. Here on he shares and generalizes and exaggerates some of his thoughts and experiences.

There’s more Jens in the archives and at Goodreads. If you have any questions or concerns (or recommendations) about what he writes, leave a comment or a message.

Comments (Closed)

  1. On July 31, 2017, 20:42 CEST, Fran said:

    I agree on your point of view that many new developers are relying too much on libraries to build their sites and don’t understand how they work. However, for those that have already built sites from scratch, there are alot of advantages to using frameworks, if you’re interested I’ve already written about the topic: just name one: why reinvent the wheel everytime you need to add authentication to a website for example?

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Last update: May 18, 2018

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