This may be the Grumpy Old Man talking but I’m starting to find myself wishing for the good ol’ days of web development more and more often lately.
This blog used to be a Wordpress site, but the constant threat of vulnerabilities in extensions, plugins, themes, or the core platform and the need to keep the underlying LAMP stack updated meant that I was either spending way too much time on administrivia and fixing things that broke or neglecting my site and risking the seciurity of my server. It didn’t take long for me to grow tired of the constant need to update and fix everything. Eventually I decided to solve the problem once and for all and swap to a static website.
I wanted a nice looking template, but didn’t want to have to battle with TailwindCSS all the time or write pages in FrameworkJS - I didn’t even want to write HTML, really. So I looked in to themes for static site generators that I could work with, not against. I scoured theme round ups looking at demos for Jekyll, Lektor, Vitepress, Pelican, Gatsby and Hugo. In the end I settled for LoveIt for Hugo only to find that it didn’t work with the latest version of Hugo and the creator had seemingly abandoned it. Luckily, I found DoIt, a fork of LoveIt that was still being maintained.
All this got me thinking about how we - web developers and software engineers alike - have over complicated our lives in the name of making things better.
Frameworks were supposed to make life easier from devs but when you stop to think about the complexity they add to the development process - CI/CD, package management, vulnerabilities, version conflicts, extra tooling for testing, transpiling, linting, pre-processing - you start to see why the concept of less is more is so popular amongst more experienced developers.
Meanwhile, the sites that are deployed using these frameworks have massive load times due to all the code required to make them work. So the experience of the user isn’t that great either.
All this is to say I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t want to have to spend time fighting with the tools I use. I just want as little routine maintenance as possible so I can do what I love doing - building things.
I won’t be abandoning frameworks altogether, but I will be minimising my use of them in the situations where I get to make those decisions. For example, I am testing replacing VueJS with HTMX in a few of my web app projects, and I’ll continue to pull apart the theme I use on this site to reduce the number of moving parts as much as possible, while keeping the things I want because they do make my life easier.
After all, I like having nice things.