Some great insights here and as far as your questions go, my opinions are:
1) Small plugins/packages can be really useful, and I think this aspect of web development is a carry-over from the jQuery days where you could easily import a script to handle some kind of UI feature without writing your own. It has an appeal in the sense that it is a time saver as well as having some sort of "credibility" as a published open source tool that others have used in their own projects.
However, this leads to relying on plugins being a crutch, and I think that it can hinder developers from improving their skills by leaning on them too much. I know when I first started, I tended to use these scripts a lot, and became frustrated when they didn't do exactly what I needed it to do. This led me to start writing my own solutions and I think that exercise is what helped me improve my own skills.
2) I don't think the onus of offering alternatives should be placed on the plugin developer. Most well-curated plugins have some kind of documentation, and a lot of the times, it has some high-level description of what it does, and perhaps why it was created in the first place. It's often phrased like a sales pitch, but I can understand why. The plugin developer wants people to use their tool; after all, that's why they open sourced it in the first place, right? I think a "buyer beware" policy should be followed by any who want to use these types of tools.
Omg, "jQuery plugins" make my blood boil.
- here's a vanilla-DOM library
- do you have a version for jQuery?
- here's a library of pure functions that don't touch the DOM.
- so modern, so modular! But how do I use it with jQuery?
That's because so many people learned jQuery without learning JS, so they were scared of if. Dark times...
Well, I was so scared of jQuery, I just avoided the clientside all together until it left.
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