Front-End Dissatisfaction (and Backing Off)

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Asko Nõmm reached a breaking point with front end:

I want to have a personal life and not have to spend my nights reading up on some new flavour of *.js in fear that if I don’t I would soon be made irrelevant. I don’t want to learn nor use a million different tools. I don’t want to know a bit about everything and a lot about nothing.

Thus, I don’t want to do front-end development anymore. The joy is gone.

They literally spun up this blog to say that, but money-where-mouth-is:

I’ve given in my resignation at my current place of employment and will be seeking an exclusively back-end role for my next adventure

I have some doubts that back end is 100% better in regards to technology churn, but fair enough, I don’t hear about it as much. Front-end dissatisfaction is awfully high. I don’t go a day without hearing someone complain broadly about the state of front end.

Remy Sharp addressed this in The web didn’t change; you did:

If you didn’t gather off the bat from the title, the problem with developing front end projects isn’t that it’s harder or more complicated, it’s that you made it harder and more complicated.

Minor pushback there: a lot of people don’t get any choice in the technologies they are tasked with.

Remy’s point is that literally any simplicity that you hold nostalgia for on the web is still there and there is nothing stopping you from using it. Other than, ya know, if your client or boss prevents that.

Mark (last name appears intentionally not-on-the-internet) says that just HTML is a perfectly fine building tool:

Despite increasing leniency on frameworks being the only way to build for the web, hand-written HTML never disappeared and I feel is still a perfectly suitable way to build a personal website.

Remember Steren Giannini said recently they build websites with HTML alone and zero build process. And Terence Eden praised HTML for its unreasonable effectiveness:

Are you developing public services? Or a system that people might access when they’re in desperate need of help? Plain HTML works. A small bit of simple CSS will make look decent. JavaScript is probably unnecessary – but can be used to progressively enhance stuff. Add alt text to images so people paying per MB can understand what the images are for (and, you know, accessibility).

It’s nice to think that you can build an important website, avoid any sort of wild complexity, and have it do its job without any harm, with HTML.

Personally, I don’t harbor any ill will toward the front-end ecosystem at the moment. I’m aware that I can step backward from complexity if I have to, and that I can lean into complexity when it buys me things (speed, features, DX, etc) and know what it costs me (and users) and why.


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