On Modern Web Development
He states that the current default of building a Web Application as a SPA using React, or something similar, in the frontend and an API on the backend is overkill.
This is both an opinionated survey on the current state of web development and an extremely contrarian take on current accepted wisdom on how to build modern web applications. It’s worth a read.
His premise is that we are adding additional levels of abstraction such as Virtual DOMs, Server Side Rendering, Bundle Splitting, etc. He even goes on to say that trying to generic, purely REST-ful APIs is a bit like tilting at windmills, since we end up having them tightly coupled with frontend code anyway.
I am sympathetic to this point of view — mainly because I am rapidly transiting to “grumpy old man” phase of my career, and I find modern web development workflow terrifying complex. I had to work on a React application a couple of years ago. It made me want to run back into the warm embrace of Java Swing development (oh beautiful Java Swing).
But, I also want to note that software engineering is pretty fashion driven where we bounce around between too much and too little abstraction. Every generation has this battle — Java didn’t have enough features so we ended up with Java EE, Java EE was too bloated so we ended up with Swing, the Java language was too complex so we built Go. Go is missing Generics so we will go ahead and add them. The pendulum keeps swinging and we have a complexity crusade every 5–7 years or so. Unsurprisingly, it has been just about 5 years since React has become the defacto way of building web applications. Time for the backlash!
I am sure we are going to be back at folks writing pure HTML and FTP-ing to an Apache server day now ;-)