Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Principles and priorities (adactio.com)
119 points by hypertexthero on April 27, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 91 comments

The thing that confuses me about "modern", JavaScript-everything web development is that I just don't see the developer efficiency, at all.

I've collaborated with many different teams that use the modern JavaScript stack. It seems to me that it takes multiples of time to deliver features compared to the old forms-and-HTML-with-a-tiny-bit-of-JavaScript-enhancement methodology.

Are we really optimizing for developer efficiency here? We've given JavaScript-everything a decade to prove that it's a better, more productive way of building higher quality websites and applications. I don't think it has.

Depends on what you're trying to build/display.

A sign-up form? Yeah, you aren't getting much from your SPA framework. Pure overhead.

A data-table with user-selectable columns, pagination, and arbitrary sorting and filtering, where the data is too large to fit in memory (billions of rows) so you have to re-render by hitting the server; but the rows contain view-state components, so you can't re-render on the server? Two lines of code in an SPA; three months on your own. Equal resulting JS size, either way.

And something like Grafana: how would you even do that server-side? Emit a server-sent-event stream of SVG images? This is a case where server-side rendering would result in heavier client-side code than an SPA would!


Now, the majority of people using SPAs don't need SPAs. I think people get into SPA frameworks like React because everybody wants to learn the frameworks and libraries, to have them in their pocket and on their resume, for when they (hypothetically) one day get hired for that one job where they do get to build the fancy slice-and-dice analytical data dashboard. That job probably would pay pretty well. They want to be qualified for that job.

If you're a project manager, and you really value getting an MVP shipped quickly, you should push back on the engineering lead's desire to use an SPA framework. Ask them whether there's anything they're really gaining for this specific project. If there's no reason not to, then just suggest they build the app as a plain-old server-side-rendered-HTML app. Use Rails; heck, use PHP. (Or be fancy and use Phoenix LiveView.)

Your experience does not match mine.

I worked through the pre-Javascript world, the jquery world, the angular1 world, and now the react world (not to mention a decade of native GUI development before that). I am vastly more productive with react and my UIs are much easier to use.

Every time I submit some 1990s or 2000s era form that gives me an error because I typed some field wrong, but also wipes out half the other fields I spent 15 minutes typing... and of course, hitting the back button wipes out the remaining fields... I want to reach into the screen and throttle someone.

No thanks.

None of the problems listed is inherent in HTML + touch of JS. Especially since most browsers these days will remember what you typed anyway unless specifically instructed otherwise. Complaining about the back button behavior in SPA world seems...misplaced? If anything, its behavior is even worse.

I think this is referring to the server round-trip -- form submit, server-side validation, "you have to specify a color for your widget" and everything on the field is blanked out because the server didn't fill in the default values into the form based on your previous submission.

Back button stuff; I mean, it's not trivial to support it correctly now, and it might just be an increased focus on usability and testing of this sort of thing, but hitting back was always dicey -- half the time you'd get some error about re-posting form data when you hit back, and if you said no, bad things happened, and if you said yes, worse things happened.

> it's not trivial to support it correctly

Back button works every time if you create pages, and navigate between them using links.

There are some garbage web forms out there, but if we're comparing building SPA in 2020 or webforms in 2020, webforms is unlikely to screw up your back button.

"Every time I submit some 1990s or 2000s era form that gives me an error because I typed some field wrong, but also wipes out half the other fields I spent 15 minutes typing..."

That's exactly why we put so much effort into making sure Django's forms framework didn't wipe out the values you had already filled in if there was a validation error.

Most sites were PHP though.

> I am vastly more productive with react and my UIs are much easier to use.

When a programmer says "I am vastly more productive" then I know the project is vastly over budget, vastly missed all deadlines and has a vast headcount delivering something vastly unusable.

Programmer feels on their own 'productivity' are inversely correlated with real-world project productivity.

This is because programmers love to code, so more code and more complex code == 'productivity', while in the real world code is a liability, not an asset. The less code in a project, the better.

I also worked through the pre-Javascript world, the jquery world, the backbone world, and now the react world. And while I'm productive with react-like stacks, I've rediscovered how much more productive I am with HTML-centric SSR.

The problem you describe is solved by frameworks like Rails, and has been for at least 10 years.

It turns out there's no need to bring in hundreds to thousands of JS dependencies to implement your frontend. SSR gets the job done in a superior manner, both in DX and UX.

I had a job with a bad case of NIH and my lead was a very upbeat guy.

A couple months in he gave me kudos for getting something done in “only two weeks”

This was work that would have taken less than a week on my first big frontend job and here it was noteworthy that I did it in twice the time. Confusing emotions. Initially I felt dirty. Or like I was in the beginning of a horror movie where it turns out the happy guy is the killer.

And while I agree with the title on the article, I think it’s a shame because what we should be rewarding is effectiveness, not efficiency. I probably spend 20% of my time working on improving productivity and reducing variability for the whole team. Which means I get a little bit faster (and a lot less stressed out) in aggregate while everyone else gets a lot faster. That lead’s boss hired me specifically for that, but not all bosses are so enlightened (and he left a year later).

HTML with a tiny bit of JavaScript is just considered not an option at all, by the designers and the business. They don't want a HTML form post when you delete an item from a list, they want the item to animate out. So if you look at it like that, then yeah it is probably more developer efficient to do it the modern way.

That's the tiny-bit-of-JavaScript-enhancement.

It's trivially easy to hook up a "delete" button such that it works without JavaScript, but if JavaScript is available it turns into a fetch() POST that removes the item (with a CSS animation) once it completes.

Or if you're too lazy for progressive enhancement, you can skip the "works without JavaScript" bit.

I used to do this kind of thing with jQuery one-liners all the time. Today browser compatibility is good enough that you don't even need jQuery.

Yeah but requirements are never that simple. You also have a cart item in the header that shows 4 but now must show 3, and you have a price that's over in the sidebar that needs to update, etc.

Oh and the user is logged in and is receiving a notification that an item they were watching is now available, better show a toast.

Sorry but the simple jQuery sites turn into soup once the requirements are what they are today. You can still do it, it's possible, it becomes harder and harder to maintain long-term though. Then efficiency becomes worse than how people do it today.

So many of the projects I've seen built with modern JavaScript aren't nearly that complicated though. They're building in anticipation of that complexity, but it never arrives.

Look at how many content-oriented news website article pages have gone all-in on React, with the result that they serve up over 1MB of JavaScript just to show you an article with a "save" button that no-one ever clicks.

This is very true. I think, as this article describes, going through the process of discussing priorities as part of the initial architecture would lead to asking the questions about what the requirements really are, and what technologies best fit those requirements.

Yes, definitely. There are plenty of applications that benefit enormously from the modern JavaScript stack. I wouldn't dream of attempting something like Trello without React or similar! But I don't think it should be the default for every project without at least some careful thought.

I laughed when you said Trello because I just got done speaking with a colleague who complained that it locks up on her every time she tries to screen share while using it; the only web app she works with where she has this experience. It's obvious that the over-reliance on JavaScript is the reason for this and if Trello had a non-JS option she would surely take it even if the UX was "worse." (What could be worse than the UI freezing constantly?)

Also as soon as you provide something nice, the manager or business owner or whoever is going to ask for a dozen more features and then you realize "doh, it'd be nice to have some way of organizing all this spaghetti".

Quoting this paragraph by the author:

> First and foremost, there’s the end user. If a technology choice harms the end user, avoid it. I’m thinking here of the kind of performance tax that a user has to pay when developers choose to use megabytes of JavaScript.

I believe the author is indeed talking about React (and other frameworks), SPA, big JS bundles. The developer efficiency being alluded to here is for tech startups to scale a team. A component-based frontend is valuable in providing that efficiency. The efficient is not about building a form in a few hours vs 2 days with React, but about code maintenance and scaling a team so many developers can work on the frontend at once in a sensible way.

However, having said that, I am not an advocate for a React frontend. I actually recently wrote an article, on a different topic, but with a very similar theme [1]. I think component-based frontend framework solves a real problem in an organization, but it does not have the best UX in mind.

[1]: https://dev.to/bigi/dev-to-is-the-perfect-demonstration-of-h...

I couldn't agree more. And I have also found there is a dogma surrounding JS technology that views plain old HTML generated on a server as bad practice and outdated. Yet, again and again I see fast and functional websites converted to JS frameworks, becoming slow, memory intensive/leaky, and less responsive.

The new dogma is "plain old HTML generated on a server is OK, as long as it's using node.js on a client-side oriented JS framework". Of course it's just as slow and memory-leaky as a plain old SPA, but now you get that on both the client and the server!

I think it optimises for developers ego and "fun" factor. If you actually read into posts around you can quickly see that the developer having fun is paramount to any solution - this is why everything needs to be a proper library and everything needs to be written in the developers favorite language. Ecosystems like JS driven Electron apps come out of this mindset.

Javascript has lowered the barrier to entry into the tech field (especially for `full stack` development). However that is all I'd say is the biggest achievement when it comes to increasing developer productivity/efficiency. Building a simple SPA in React with a few input fields results in 80+ files getting generated. The level of contortions that React (or other JS) framework goes through for a simple app would make even the most flexible contortionists in the world blush. Then there is the "Everything is a component" dogma that translates to single line components that bring down the internet -- see left-pad/is-promise fiascos. Serious high performing and large-scale enterprise apps ( read as software that does actual intense business app logic and CRUD ) would fall flat if Javascript-everything web development were adopted as a dogma. Javascript should stay where it is good at i.e. browser, and should stop with the impossible imposture of being a contender for serious server side programming.

On the other hand, a decade of Javascript sprawl has been great for creating a business case for hiring more Javascript developers and paying them more.

The problem is, today's applications are not HTML forms with "a tiny bit of JavaScript enhancement."

Today's apps are immense JS programs - tens if not hundreds of thousands of lines.

Good luck scaling that without modern tooling.

Most of those applications don't need that though. Developers write hundreds of thousands of lines of code because that's what you have to do if you commit to a JavaScript-everything architecture.

If the thing you are building needs that then go ahead and build it like that. But SO MUCH of what I see built on the modern JavaScript didn't need to do that at all.

But many, perhaps most, of them could be. Just look at the amount of sites that are being converted to statically generated sites. Static HTML with some Javascript on top.

A lot of websites were converted to this paradigm during the pandemic because the initial UX was that the site got DDOSed by legitimate, high load, or hacked.

And this is from quick conversion (e.g. scraping a dynamic page, Wordpress plugins, etc). I think there's a lot more potential when sites are built with the static paradigm in mind.

My personal blog for example is created by a static site generator I wrote in Rust myself. Instead of manually writing HTML, or using PHP and Javascript at runtime, I handle the complexity at build time. After having done frontend dev for 10 years this approach seems much more sane to me.

Last time I checked Twitter doesn't even use external stylesheets anymore. It's all in style="" in HTML, probably managed by their JS framework. And it loads super slowly.

> Are we really optimizing for developer efficiency here?

Good question, we’re really not, we’re optimizing for making websites and webapps work and feel like desktop apps.

>We've given JavaScript-everything a decade to prove that it's a better, more productive way of building higher quality websites and applications. I don't think it has.

Not unless you count things like Google Maps, which wouldn’t be possible without SPA-style JavaScript.

I am 100% on board with Google Maps and Trello being built using JavaScript-everything.

Most of the things I've seen built using the modern JavaScript stack don't warrant working and feeling like desktop apps. They should work like fast-loading websites - especially on mobile phones, which is the source of most traffic these days.

I'm not a front-end developer. Often times I end up developing quick front-ends for internal tools, but I've also built them for customer facing products. I've become pretty competent with VueJs and I've been able to build features very quickly, sometimes in a matter of hours. If development is taking a very long time, I feel like that's more likely an organizational problem.

Your experience doesn't match mine, either. I'll go to a lot of trouble to avoid server side development, which is partly why I love <s>Zeit</s> Vercel's offerings -- they abstract me from as much of the unix morass as possible.

I think it might just be a matter of what feels like home to you.

There isn’t a good library for progressive enhancement. I know you can write it yourself quickly but it’s still boilerplate.

Developer efficiency often gets prioritized over user experience because that's the only way the software would even get to exist.

I take my own software that I write solely for personal use as examples. In those cases, I play both roles of the developer and the end user. Most of my utilities are console command line utilities instead of full GUI. As a result, I have a bunch of command-line utilities that are very cumbersome to use. That's because I prioritized the dev experience over the UX.

Console apps are 10 times faster to code. I can bang out printf() or Console.WriteLine() statements 10x faster than placing GUI textboxes on a form. Yes, GUI wizards and templates accelerate the layouts but it's still not as fast as console apps for quick & dirty utilities. As an end user, I'd prefer easier-to-use GUI apps but I don't have the extra time to code them. I complained to the developer (that's me) to make a GUI app with better UX instead but the dev ignored me.

With my limited time, I'd rather have 20 utilities with bad UX that exist rather than just 5 apps with good UX at the expense of not having the other 15 at all. It's an unavoidable tradeoff of finite time.

Likewise, I as an end user don't like Electron apps but I know that lecturing developers on using something lighter weight like C++ & Qt or C#/Winforms means they wouldn't bother writing the app at all. It was the ease (and/or familiarity) of Javascript that allowed them to write the app in the first place.

[REVISED above text to clear up the misunderstanding in the reply.]

I think this is the key point -- JavaScript is eating the world because it allows a single team to support a single codebase built in a single technology across all target platforms with minimal platform-specific integration. Indie software gets to exist _at all_, and businesses don't have to pick and choose which OSes are worth the investment, and which simply won't get the product. As was common 10-15 years ago, when most software was either Windows or Mac, often not both, and Linux considered itself lucky that Flash was only a _little_ behind instead of a _lot_ behind.

Is it possible you are agreeing with the author?

> Most of my utilities are console command line utilities instead of full GUI and they are very cumbersome to use. That's because I prioritized the dev experience over the UX.

As the user you prefer command line utilities, and so I interpret your building command line utilities as prioritizing the user's experience.

On the other hand, if you needed a program that could exist very efficiently as a command line utility but, desiring to learn how to use some new GUI toolkit you built a GUI instead, I might interpret your action as prioritizing the developer experience (in which you are focused on the details of the implementation) over the user experience (in which you are focused on the results).

You misunderstood that line, they're saying the command line utilities are cumbersome

> the command line utilities are cumbersome

Except this is obviously untrue? I can't pipe a window through grep or sed.

When you need to. Other times when you need to pass lots of params and havent decided which ones are staying so scripts are a bit extra time which is not there and when you need to explore in a different way the domain area, GUIs or TUIs may be more suitable. I love what one can do out of simple tools like that and how nicely they compose but if the experience is draining, my brain is going to notice and start avoiding it next time

> Most of my utilities are console command line utilities instead of full GUI. As a result, I have a bunch of command-line utilities that are very cumbersome to use. That's because I prioritized the dev experience over the UX.

Same here, although lately I don't even bother writing a full CLI utility. Instead I just write a few functions to call from a REPL.

(On a side note, why is the REPL experience so bad in JavaScript? How can Clojure have a better REPL to the JavaScript ecosystem than JavaScript itself?)

I've build GUI tools for projects like game editors before and since they're mainly for developers it'll just end up as a huge mismash grid of buttons anyway. Not really any better usability than a console app, just there is usually a requirement to show some image on the screen at the same time.

Command lines! That's some fancy UI.

For utilities I won't use very often I just hard code the parameters. If I want different parameters I edit the code.

Developer efficiency is actually harmed by valuing it so much. Developers get into pointless ideological debates about purity and that hurts their efficiency. When good developers have to deliver features in a short time frame they stop debating that stuff and make decisions. They then learn from these decisions the hard way and no one is having an ideological debate any more.

And if they keep delivering features in short time frames they will never get a chance to debate quality or elegance in their work.

And eventually you will start hearing them complain about an unmaintainable mess and turnover will probably increase.


I think you do have to care, on some level, about maintaining code quality and standards. I've worked in feature-factories and it's not a panacea. It doesn't crash and it goes reasonably fast are both features after all that seem to be related to the quality of a code base and the expertise of the team behind it.

One approach is a schedule for when everyone works on debt vs features vs testing.

For instance: first week of the iteration is for paying off debt. Second and third are feature work. Fourth is testing (note: not unit testing, real testing. As in everybody chips in to actually play around with the features their colleagues added and provide feedback; also verify that all the bugs that were fixed this iteration didn’t creep back in, or get fixed with a “works on my machine” patch)

Of course there is a balance to be struck. I'm not saying don't plan things out at all. I'm saying limit the time you spend doing it relative to the impact of the decision. That's not always easy to gauge which is where an experienced tech lead comes in to have the final say on what gets done and how long the debate goes on for. A strong tech lead is essential.

There's a "no true scotsman" answer where both these ideological debates, and the "ship a bad experience because the developer wants to use shiny technologies" the original article discusses, are clearly not ultimately "efficient" for the business.

But it points to a problem with using the word "efficiency" like this if it's so commonly misused/misinterpreted.

"Deliver value" is something I've seen people push instead, and it tends to stay more customer-focused. It's hardly perfect, and there are still temptations to bikeshed and focus on the wrong thing, but it's a bit easier to recognize and course-correct as a team when that's your ultimate goal.

> But it points to a problem with using the word "efficiency" like this

Just adding faux-numerical terminology helps a bit: ideological debates are of (approximately) zero value, whereas javascript frameworks are of negative value.

> "Deliver value"

TFA did already make this point, but that's meaningless unless it's short for "Deliver value, even it conflicts with [some specific other thing that you might resonably want to do].".

Yes, indeed it is team efficiency.

1. Most developers don't work for the end-user. They work for who is paying their salaries, which is often someone is mostly interested in luring the end user and using them to sell a product to someone else (everyone from Google to Facebook to DoorDash has this model). Without those megabytes of JS analytics and whatnot, the end-user cannot be packaged into the actual company product.

2. As the real customer for the developers consists of these institutions, they care more about development costs than whether customer internet is wasted. Developer convenience means cheaper projects.

3. Users blame themselves for the performance tax. They think they downloaded a virus, have an old computer, or need faster internet and they go and upgrade all those things, making the performance tax seemingly disappear.

> Most developers don't work for the end-user.

This is extremely reductionist.

If you want to take it further, then nobody works for the end user ever. If you have any funding at all (even from the public markets) then you "work for investors".

Can you see how this is theoretically true, but practically not as true?

But it does explain a lot of things in practice. Many developers will choose to use a technology not because it makes the end-product better for the end-user, but because it will make their resume more attractive for potential employers.

I don’t doubt that these developers exists, but I’ve never knowingly met one in 13 years of full time dev work.

Practically, end user interests are different then buying manager interest which are different then developers employer interests.

End user interests are different then buying manager interest: software that can tick all the checkbox, has all the features, but is hard and unpractical to use. Buying managers dont know they are buying crap and typically dont listen to low level employees who have to use the software. Instead, buying managers put pressure on whether checkboxes are ticked and price.

Company that develops software is interested in getting it out cheaper and in pretending checkbox is ticked. Where buying manager really want checkbox ticked, employer wants minimum cost way to do it. They are juggling multiple customers with incompatible requirements. Plus, managers are interested in their own departments and own empires in expense of overall product.

By the time developer gets assignment, end user matter only little. And developer does not have any way to even learn about his pain points and much less have time to do something about it.

Maybe nobody works for the end user ever, but some people work more for the end user than others.

If you work for a web site that makes its money by lead gen or advertising, you're often working against the end user. This isn't necessarily true, it's just how the incentives will align.

If you sell SaaS to the enterprise, you're not working for the end-user, you're working for their boss, or whoever else is making the purchase decision.

If you're selling a product directly to end users, and usability is a factor in whether or not they choose pay you, that's a little closer to working for the end user.

And, best-case scenario, if you are the end-user, or your boss is the end-user, then you can truly be working for the end-user.

I suspect OP is referring to the Principal-agent problem: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principal%E2%80%93agent_proble...

I dunno, this feels like a technicality. Almost all of us work for a company, not the end user. We look at the company to figure out the balance it wants to maintain between user experience and maintainability. And companies are focused on the customer relationship, which is the sum of all experiences a customer has with the company over time.

And part of the way you can actually deliver a good customer experience, consistently, at scale, is by focusing on developer efficiency. To consistently deliver a great experience to customers in a world of constantly shifting customer expectations, you need to be able to ship features from design through delivery very quickly.

This means enabling your developers to be more efficient by designing products that are flexible. Maybe the user experience isn't 100% optimal for a given customer interaction, but the goal is to keep the sum of all interactions over time as high as possible.

I don't see your point.

Maybe the OP's argument doesn't fit every case, but there's many where it does (e.g. large companies). Calling it reductionist, doesn't necessarily invalidate it...

You work for whoever is deciding how much money you get. In bigger companies that decision gets made many layers away from the end user.

The submitted title ("Developer efficiency prized above all else") broke the site guidelines, which ask: "Please use the original title, unless it is misleading or linkbait; don't editorialize" (https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html). Cherry-picking the detail you think is most important from an article is editorializing.

Like it or not, titles dominate discussion. The comments in this thread are nearly entirely a reaction to that title. The HN guidelines specifically ask users not to abuse that power. On HN, submitting an article doesn't confer any special right to frame it for everyone else.

If you want to say what you think is important about an article, please post it as a comment to the thread. Then your view will be on a level playing field with everyone else's: https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=false&qu...

If it's necessary to change a title, please do that by picking the most neutral and accurate phrase you can find on the actual page which represents what the article is about. More on that here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22932244

There's a big unspoken truth with Javascript here. The vast majority of Open Source Javascript is created by developers for no money to solve their own problems and itches. Maybe not the most visible top-level libraries like React, but the thousands of dependencies are there to help the developer with some issue they had at some point. Sure they may have secondary goals, some of them including being time efficient, or memory efficient, or size efficient, etc.

So it seems expected that the agglomeration of tools with varying secondary goals, and a clear primary goal, results into this goal of developer efficiency being potentiated greatly. Forget about writing 5 lines of code, just npm install it.

And that is fine IMHO, people/companies with different goals should be doing things differently. It also seems that turnover is a big issue as well for most companies, so they also try to make dev experience better!

In my experience, companies expect developers to output features quickly. When it does not happen as quickly as expected the assumption is that its the developers when often times its the overall organizations process that is a mess. Its not necessarily a technology problem but a people problem.

People also create technology or adopt technology because of people, most of the time. You have a point there with messy organziations, but that is not mutually exclusive with the software stack, usually up to date with the fashion. And it is amusing that older technology almost always can get the job done okay and efficiently only because its problems are already known and there are already boring but understood worksarounds. Yes, boring but works. Versus cool and solves this problems but causes other new problems we know nothing about. It’s been so far just like a game of whackamole

Software development doesn't exist in a vacuum. The author talks about these design principles as if they are supposed to satisfy the software team's personal values, when in reality it needs to be more about the organization's goals and values. Take this statement:

>Usability is more important than profitability.

For a bootstrapped company in danger of running out of money, it's ridiculous to prioritize perfecting UX over making sales. For an open source team, profitability isn't part of the equation at all but user experience might be a top priority. My point is, these aren't just matters of personal taste, the "design principles" have to mesh with the rest of the organization.

Going one level up to https://adactio.com/journal shows a sparkline (with author's activity perhaps, the latest posting is entry 2666!) which has a feature I have never seen before: an audible graph. Clicking on the sparkline plays tones matching the data. Not particulary useful, but make me thing about using audio for presenting data (apparently "sonification" is a thing!)

You're talking about values, not design principles.

Similarly: "Make it work, make it right, make it fast, make it pretty, in that order."

Make it work now and fast potentially has maintainability issues down the line. Make it maintainable and brautiful may miss the mark on what’s actually needed and may be overengineered. Somewhere in between there is a sweet spot that can be found by luck or with some planning, a POC, etc

I would replace that with "Make the code easy to understand".

One you have easy to understand code it is easy to understand how it needs to be modified to make it work, right, fast and or pretty.

Short term: user experience, even over developer experience, because user experience is the point of developer experience.

Long term: developer experience, even over user experience, because over a long enough time period developer experience drives user experience.

I think there is some truth to the conclusion. But remember that developer time is by far the largest expense when creating software. Sometimes the focus on developer efficiency is driven primary by a desire to minimize this cost.

> Sadly, I think the current state of “modern” web development reverses that principle. Developer efficiency is prized above all else.

I strongly disagree with that, "modern" web development values beautiful code over almost anything else, if that wasn't the case you could have one of your dev building a form in a few hours, instead they need tons of tools (react for example) that slow their development

Yea, the idea that "modern web programming" is beautiful at all franky makes me cringe.

Web programming and the web has separated developers too far from the hardware that actually runs the stuff and, as a result, we have built confusing towers of babel.js.

I mean, Javascript was originally made for developer ease over user reliability - and look at it now - it shows with the cacophony of NPM dependencies prone to "leftpad" style failures and the new frameworks every 6 months. All of this, of course, goes against one of the author's key points: "User experience, even over developer experience."

Unfortunately, I don't think the problem is solved by process but instead on re-education to compiled, reliable systems, made with a typing system designed to catch errors. Introducing more process and efficiency will never make a bicycle into a proper car.

> I don't think the problem is solved by process but instead on re-education to compiled, reliable systems, made with a typing system designed to catch errors.

We already have that in the form of TypeScript, but both left-pad and core-js were, for lack of better term, non-technical failures.

Only the most recent such case - is-promise - was purely a technical failure.

There's not much than can be done when the sole core maintainer of a popular library lands in a penal colony.

> We already have that in the form of TypeScript

While an improvement Typescript is a far cry from the likes of Ada and doesn't really compare.

> There's not much than can be done when the sole core maintainer of a popular library lands in a penal colony.

Perhaps the solution is to not use Javascript, since it always forces you into an "ecosystem" of "frameworks" at every turn - and they are not cheap! Just another thing to throw on the stack. mb's be damned.

> While an improvement Typescript is a far cry from the likes of Ada and doesn't really compare.

Given their respective popularities perhaps the point of diminishing returns was crossed somewhere?

> Perhaps the solution is to not use Javascript, since it always forces you into an "ecosystem" of "frameworks" at every turn - and they are not cheap! Just another thing to throw on the stack. mb's be damned.

This is becoming outdated information thanks to the likes of Svelte:


and Solid:


> I strongly disagree with that, "modern" web development values beautiful code over almost anything else

I would condition this to be:

> "modern" web development values beautiful code _that you can see_ over almost anything else

I wouldn't call apps that are run by transpiling code into another language so that it can be compiled into something else, that is packaged up and shipped around in a docker 'image' and then run in who-knows-how-many levels of virtualization in someone else's cloud, particularly beautiful.

I contrived a painful example, but if we're talking 'beauty' in terms of what you see in your IDE/text editor, then maybe you're right, but in terms of what an application is and how it's used/deployed? No way.

Here's the TL;DR.

> But as a general principle, I think this works:

> User experience, even over developer experience.

>Sadly, I think the current state of “modern” web >development reverses that principle. Developer efficiency >is prized above all else.

I probably complain about this too much, websites built with SPA technologies can very often behave poorly to the user. Jittery, slow to be useful, generally less performant than other solutions. I feel like that gets ignored because so many people want to be on the bandwagon, and many feel the developer experience is better so we just kind of sweep that part of UX under the rug.

The TLDR states that the current state of modern development prioritizes developer efficiency over all else, and that user experience is way under valued.

My problem with this isn't that it places value on user experience, it is in the premise that developer efficiency is prized above all else. Deploying an app today is just as hard as it was 15 years ago. The only two things that jump out in recent memory that made a very sizable difference on developer experience were Heroku, Github, Docker. Setting up a hello world with react and a basic API takes me a day or more, where as 10 years ago with jquery this was an hour or so. Deploying an app with K8s is google scale, but takes me a week to do, forget debugging something in production.

If we've been prioritizing developer efficiency at all costs we've failed pretty massively. I personally love the idea of optimizing a lot for developer efficiency because we can do deliver more value to others at the end of the day, but there's a lot of shiny new stuff that has some reason for existing which is definitely not developer efficiency.

> "If we've been prioritizing developer efficiency at all costs we've failed pretty massively."

Do we not hear all the time on HN, for example, that "Yeah, native apps are more efficient and look better but Electron lets us just write it once and deploy on multiple platforms"?

Electron allows you to package your webapp into a downloadable stand-alone package, but does not make your development any more or less painless if you decide to use modern Javascript frameworks and infrastructure built for Google-scale deployment.

A bloaty app that's not platform native is still infinitely more usable than something which doesn't exist at all.

Electron is one of a number of technologies which allow things to exist (in a non-optimal form) that might not be economically possible if a bigger team or a lot more time were required to ship them.

IMHO the sad thing is not that Electron exists, the sad thing is that we don't have stuff that's way easier like hypercard or VB6 was.

You hear the opposite, too. In fact, you'll hear both anytime an Electron app makes it to a front page, or if a company known for sticking to their guns on Electron or native announces literally anything.

React's efficiency is through its millions of packages. I had to build a project rapidly in React a short while ago and there was a package for everything.

A toggle? Yep. A timeline? Yep. A textarea? Yep. Toasts? Yep. Spinners? Yep. React just has so many pre-built components that you can add features very rapidly.

You will have the same thing if yo use a jquery extension, and you won't have to install webpack

It's certainly a sentiment that is somewhat common. At the extreme end you have people arguing that you should optimize developer efficiency even over shipping working bug free software, which always blows my mind when I hear it. And I don't mean accidentally doing it, I mean knowingly shipping something that doesn't work.

Operating system policies are interesting in this regard.

Continued correct activity of OS processes is prioritized over user-level activities even where the purpose of the system is explicitly the latter. The reasoning seems to be that if the OS can't keep up, it can't maintain the environment that enables user-level stuff to work.

This generates conflict where user-level activities have real-time requirements. It is very, very hard to get your typical OS to leave a process running on a dedicated ("isolated") core and never, ever interrupt it, even given root privileges and boot-time static provisioning. Just store a byte in a file-mapped page, and whoops! get unsynced millisecond pauses while the OS copies it to the disk sector. Oh, and surely you still wanted an interrupt every millisecond to see if any OS resources tied to the core need cleanup, even though it never is asked for OS work.

Which OS? In QNX this isn't an issue. If you have hard real-time requirements you need to use a Real-Time Operating System.

Since when is QNX a typical OS?

Most programs need to run on the OS they need to run on, and on the hardware they need to run on. QNX (or other favorite obscurity) most usually is not an option.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact