notes on learning, design, tools, & life

Charlie Owen on React

Charlie Owen at her best:

If React was used as one of many technologies, purely for non-critical user journeys, augmenting server-side rendered markup, then I don’t think most of the issues we have seen of late would arise.

There’s a lot of provocative stuff in here, but these points especially got me:

  • These new devs were heavily trained by a combo of corporate-sponsored online materials, blog posts, video courses, and by the formation of bootcamps.
  • The Web That Was, a place of chaos and malleability, was suddenly seen as an impediment to this process of training sacrificial developers, as it required acknowledgement of variety and empathy with the infinity of technology and human combinations.
  • The Web That Was was seen as needing a lot more artisanal work.
  • Big Corporates twirled their non-existent mustaches and realized that it’s easier to train people to use to work on a factory production line, learning a set of APIs, than it is to train them to see the Web as a precious resource that is inherently chaotic in nature.
  • BTW, I’m not blaming developers in all this - under Capitalism you always need to follow the money, and web development suddenly became a well-paying career. It was always going to happen.

I’ve been working adjacent to web development bootcamps for the past several years and have watched as the classes next door have moved from Ruby on Rails (server-side rendered) to primarily React-focused. I remember the first time I had a conversation with one of the web development instructors on the way into work and discovered that he had never even heard the words “progressive enhancement” used together.

Charlie’s definitely right that although it is possible to use tools like React in server-rendered ways, that’s certainly not what’s being taught to students in the bootcamp settings that I’ve seen. And it doesn’t seem to be where so much of this loud vocal energy in a certain part of the community online is either.

I’m trying to remain patient while the pendulum finds its way back, but this time really does seem to be taking longer than I’m used to this cycle running for. And honestly, the last time I felt this way about a technology overstaying its welcome, was 2008–2017 when I was convinced that Facebook couldn’t possibly continue to be so popular and widespread for so long.