Ask HN: Am I missing something (modern webdev)?

16 points by anxiously 16 days ago

I have always tried to build web applications that load quickly, don't require JavaScript (but can be improved by it) and work on any device that supports rendering HTML and CSS.

Everywhere I turn there's a new framework or library that depends on complicated build tools, generating mountains of JavaScript and sometimes even generating HTML and CSS.

What's wrong with building simple web applications that get things done and don't require build tools, secondary (or tertiary) languages or meta-languages (like SCSS, ERB, JSX, Jade, etc)?

solardev 16 days ago

What's wrong is simply the developer experience. It's a pain in the ass to write or maintain more complex apps with barebones HTML and shimmed in Javascript. That's how we used to have to do it. It worked but it was bug prone and hard to reason about. The abstractions are there for our sake, not the users. And they help tremendously if you learn to use them. But you don't have to. Go wild coding plain HTML and vanilla JS if that meets your needs and preferences.

matthewwolfe 16 days ago

There is not a rule that is preventing you from writing websites with JS, HTML, and CSS or even just HTML and CSS with no JS at all. Like everything else in the world, right or wrong, people have preferences for different things. Some people prefer your approach. Some feel more productive with Vue/React/Angular/etc. Some people even like writing web apps with Rust.

I personally like using React and Typescript because I feel really productive with it. I’ve built out open source libraries that I use in my own projects to prevent massive bundle sizes. That works for me. Do what works best for you :)

ushercakes 16 days ago

There are a lot of very, very successful sites running on vanilla JS, css, and HTML.

Also a lot of pretty simple old school PHP sites that are doing really well.

If you’re working on something at work, it’s best to pick the established frameworks for whatever you’re doing. Easier to get people up to speed, more people to hire with x skill, etc.

Or you may pick a specific thing because it makes the most sense for your specific use case.

Outside of work though, all bets off. I just do what I’m best at, personally. For you, if that’s vanilla JS + html + css, power to ya. You can do a lot with that alone.

leejoramo 16 days ago

I am a web programmer since the late 90s. Most of my time has been doing development similar to what you described although with a large bit of JavaScript/jQuery done as a progressive enhancement. Most of this work was for the public side of large content sites.

We’re we struggled was on the internal tooling for content creators and managers. While we could still do most things, many of the new requested features were difficult to implement with our tools and time budgets

In other words, the older development ways still work for us for static content delivery but rich interactive applications were very hard. And increasingly the public side of things needed to be more application focused.

My team ended up choosing to use SvelteJS, which in many ways allowed us to still use similar development patterns. And has all so allowed us to slowly enhance our sites and not fully rewrite in on go.

I won’t say it has been an easy transition, and we had several false starts (trying React and other frameworks). But we are now very happy with our direction.

In the end, do what works for your project. Your current practices maybe the best for your situation l

hcho 16 days ago

> What's wrong with building simple web applications that get things done and don't require build tools, secondary (or tertiary) languages or meta-languages (like SCSS, ERB, JSX, Jade, etc)?

Successful projects have a tendency to stop being simple as time goes by. Users start asking for more features, scaling issues crop up, etc, etc.

gompertz 16 days ago

I'm fairly new myself to web development, but have programmed desktop applications for nearly 20 years, and share your sentiments... I personally found good traction with Dart/Flutter and Svelte. Every other web based framework has felt insanely bulky to me, and I gave many a fair shake.

destevil 16 days ago

I've been writing "web" code since 1995 in all shapes and forms. IMHO, React + Typescript enable well engineered, maintainable code. As the other comments said, you're free pure JS/CSS/HTML as well.

ReflectedImage 15 days ago

Frontend developers are very hipster following the latest trends. Unless you are building Facebook (or something equally complex), there is little reason for most of that stuff.

sanjayio 16 days ago

Scalability to many engineers, maintain ability, and testability to name a few. Happy to elaborate with examples for those if you’re having a tough time piecing out why.

hnthrow10282910 13 days ago

Nothing is. Just because people build tools doesnt mean you have to use them.

Maybe build your own stuff and seek out tools when you need them

mac_was 16 days ago

Do you write Web applications speaking to backends without javascript and using just HTML and CSS or static websites which are improved with animations requiring javascript?

matt3210 16 days ago

The normie doesn’t want simple, they want fancy

soueuls 16 days ago

As projects grow, I am just a lot less productive when I don't have any strong abstractions over the DOM.

solumunus 16 days ago

Nothing, you're free to do it.

tomcam 16 days ago

Are you able to support yourself this way? If so then you’re golden and your username checks out.