Why You Shouldn't Use A Web Framework

David Wickes on July 26, 2018

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I completely agree. I ditched frameworks 5 years ago and started writing everything from scratch. My OS isn't as secure as it could be and the TCP stack isn't fast but the HTTP parser took fewer months than I'd expected.

5 years later, I'm nearly finished with the login page and my client is furious. Hire me?


I think you are missing the point.

What I understood is that the author is not saying you should never use any framework ever. (the title is somewhat purposefully misleading I guess).

What I think he meant is:

1/ sometimes you don't need a framework
2/ you should learn how things work "under the hood" before considering using any framework, because frameworks change all the time but the underlying tech does not.

This is true for more contexts than web development by the way.


Thumbs up to this @Dimitri - this is pretty much what I mean. Sure, use a framework when you need to or want to. But if that's your beginning and end to your understanding of development, then you're setting yourself up for a bad time.

If you're not trying to do it without a framework, then you really aren't doing the simplest thing possible. How the hell do you iterate away from a monster like Rails?

Sorry but your title is completely misleading.

You're claiming that what you actually meant to say was that it's ok to use frameworks as long as you know what's going on behind the scenes?

So it's actually OK for me to use frameworks then? What about the people on my team who aren't as experienced? Do we only use tools that the lowest common denominator understands?

Should I write MVC from scratch for every project/client? Or should I create a set of re-usable modules and store them in a repository? But now I've simply written my own framework. Is it OK to use that but not someone else's framework?

When you use phrases like "all frameworks are terrible" you're framing your argument in an irrational way. I agree with the latter part where you encourage beginners to learn the fundamentals. This is good advice. Call your article 'learn the basics before adopting a framework' or something.

Hand-waving that "all frameworks are shit and should be avoided by everyone at all costs" is unproductive and not likely to convince anyone.

MVC is basically just separation concerns and does not mean you need a framework

Should I write MVC from scratch for every project/client? Or should I create a set of re-usable modules and store them in a repository? But now I've simply written my own framework. Is it OK to use that but not someone else's framework?

Try not making a "framework" but just well decoupled, testable code. You can get very very far with just that.

What about the people on my team who aren't as experienced? Do we only use tools that the lowest common denominator understands?

I think it's more dangerous to only use tools that only your best and brightest understand on a good day.

Should I write MVC from scratch for every project/client?

Should you use MVC for every project/client? Is it always the right fit?

You're missing my point. MVC was just one example. Also you created a false dichotomy: picking tools that only the best and brightest understand is not what I'm arguing for.

Should we as a team avoid using React simply because someone on the team isn't a JavaScript expert yet? Or is it better to just roll our own view rendering library?

The argument has no logic to it. Yes I agree that throwing some monolith framework at every problem you encounter is not a good idea, but that's a far cry from "don't waste your time with express, just do your own http!"

As Graham Lyons pointed out you might as well be advocating that we simply write everything in machine code.

Call your article 'learn the basics before adopting a framework' or something.

Oh really? What else should do the author of this brilliant writing? Is he allowed to use non-existing autocar.js.manifest.nightmare filename?

Hand-waving that "all frameworks are shit and should be avoided by everyone at all costs" is unproductive and not likely to convince anyone.

I believe this writing implies the reader has the sense of humour and an ability to understand puns and exaggerations.

Ok so now he was just exaggerating when he said that nobody should use web frameworks?

EDIT: I don't have a problem with humor and hyperbole. The problem here is that the author sends inconsistent messages as to who should use frameworks and why.


Frameworks are all terrible. All of them. I'm serious - they are making you all into bad developers. Stop using them now.

READ: Frameworks are terrible and should be avoided. (no jokes)

"You don't need to reinvent the wheel" is fine under two conditions:

  • you know how a wheel works
  • you know how this wheel works
  • this wheel doesn't come with a whole bunch of crap you'll never use
  • you only want a wheel

READ Frameworks are OK to use if you know what you're doing and you've picked the right tool for the job at hand

The problem here is that the author sends inconsistent messages [...]

I do not see any problem here. He is an author. Write your own article and send consistent messages only.

READ Frameworks are OK to use [...]

Here is the thing: there is no one single framework in the universe that suits all of these four conditions.


I don't think I misunderstood - this guy is a fanatic. He truly believes the One True Way to program is to send a voltage into the motherboard. Or not.

No. The one presenting himself as a fanatic is you. Sorry.

It's true. It's very possible that I'll rush the stage at the next ReactConf screaming "free the monads!" or somesuch.

For ReactConf I have a special one “Hands off my DOM, usurpers!”


That's not what he said at all, though. He said they are all terrible and suggested that we are stupid and weak for using them.


What's worse:

  • Reinventing the wheel slowly and missing deadlines

  • Or endlessly changing the wheels of your car with different shinier, slightly flawed wheels trapped in programming purgatory forever?


That's a false dichotomy. How about knowing your craft and using the right tools for the job? That's what this article is saying in a roundabout way.

I could write my own version of redux to learn the inner workings of it. I'm not gonna. I'm going to learn the pattern that Redux is based on and use the library that is well supported and tested by thousands of other projects using it. Will I mess it up? Sure, will I learn? Yep. Will I jump to Mobx right away? No, cause I've been doing this for over a decade and I've learned the grass isn't always greener.


The first one. What's the point of developing if you never deliver?


Both sound pretty rubbish.

But someone paying my wages overheard the word 'deadline' so they're pushing for the other option


What's worse, buying high quality tires from the local tire store, or rebuilding modern industry from the stone age all the way back up to manufacturing tires yourself that aren't any better or are possibly worse in your back yard?


I think I say you shouldn't write your own HTTP abstraction, but it's such fun that I'm glad you did.

But, for reals, did anyone save any time and effort writing something in React?


Not in React, but i did save a lot of development time, cost, and effort writing something in Vue framework

This x10. I know vanilla JS, but Vue just kills it in performance, is super lightweight, and easy to learn. Yes, I know these are cliche words when it comes to frameworks, but with VueJS it's actually true.

Sure, knowing vanilla JS is helpful, but not using a framework is akin to using Notepad to code everything because hey, who needs syntax highlighting or code completion to make them more efficient?!

Tangential point, but I did hear of a few developers who use an editor without syntax highlighting. Can't remember why. Think Rob Pike might do it as he uses Plan 9 to write his Go. Might be worth a Google.

My take on stuff like Vue and React... they're great for SPAs. But I think SPAs are a bloated waste of time. Too many teams turn any problem into building a SPA without really considering whether there are enough benefits. Maybe what you're building might turn into a SPA. But starting with one seems like a bad idea to me.

Well, i think starting with SPA is not so bad if the team members really understand why they need to build a SPA.
But i do agree that having the "Let's just build a SPA because it's hot/cool right now" mentality often cause unnecessary problems.

I like completely opinionated view of making no point at all ...

There are teams who know their requirements and know very well what they are doing.

But you guys seem to just talk about websites, not applications.


I think that your article is cool to read but totally out of the reality. People does not build SPA "because is cool".

Throwing a front-end guy in a back-end project (framework or not) is complex and dangerous. Should the front-end guy take a course to learn all the damn basics of back-end development? I don't think so.

Frameworks are evil? No. Developers should look at the source and get how things works? Sure.

Said so, once you get the basics you SHOULD use a framework. A common web app is made of a lot of things (Authentication, Routing, Database, FileSystem) and you can not be good at everything.

You can even create your framework, but i'm pretty sure yoy will end up looking at the actual one to see how they solved this and that :)


Does an OS and a 'TCP stack' really count as a web framework? I think it's pretty clear what this article is going for. It's not totally unreasonable to write a website without using a web framework


It absolutely counts. I also braided my own Ethernet cables, but that was more just to illustrate my point.

I think Dave makes some great points in his deliberately inflammatory article and I confess that I haven't really rolled my own OS, TCP stack and HTTP parser and have manage to remain in gainful employment.

I don't agree with the title but then neither does the rest of this article. It is absolutely not unreasonable to write a website without using a web framework. However, to build a production application of any kind of complexity without using some kind pre-existing framework would be incredibly foolish and perhaps naive.

dude... Your all over these posts. You need to chill out. You are missing the forest for the trees simply because you are offended at a title. The author's overall point is simply that when you jump from one complicated framework/library to the next WHILE NEVER LEARNING THE BASICS you are simply hurting yourself as a developer. And he is right. If you never learn the basics very well then spaghetti coding a framework together is all you'll ever do. But if you do learn the basics then it becomes easier as you'll better understand what the third party layer of abstractions is doing in the first place. This article was not intended for developers that have a very solid foundational understanding of the basics AND are able to understand what these frameworks are doing. Why on earth do you find his title to be "deliberately inflammatory" simply because you would have worded it differently?

Hi Chad,

I'm chill, I'm chill.

I'm not offended by the title but I'm confident that Dave meant it to be controversial. And as I say, the main point of the article - which you've certainly got - doesn't agree with the title. Dave's not saying that you should never use a framework (even though he explicitly states that in the first few sentences - he's nothing if not a firebrand!) he's saying you should learn and understand what your framework does, and be discerning about what you choose when you start a project.

I agree with Dave.


Florian, this isn't a constructive comment and it comes across as very rude. Could you find a way to rephrase it to be more helpful? What could Dave do better?

Florian, we've removed your comment because it does not follow our Code of Conduct. If you'd like to leave criticism, please be respectful and ensure that your comment is constructive.


You have been surrounded dude. But to me this kind of article is made to get comments, likes and shares :)

There is nothing new in "learn the basics" but then you should not stop to HTTP protocol, you have to go all the way back to Assembly. How many of the commenter did that?

People tend to talk a lot, but i'm hell sure they are using tons of frameworks every day, without even check the source-code.


I don't really agree. I agree that people should know the basics sooner or later but I don't agree with everything else.

Your post, I might be wrong, has an undertone of "look at me how amazing I am because I write compilers in Brainfuck" and it's one of those elitists traits that are damaging in the industry in the long term because even if you don't mean that either generate anxiety to new learners or make us look we're some sort of gods on the mountain top.

You don't need to know everything about everything to be a good developer.

We developers think we are special but for many people it's just a job and that's perfectly fine. I do not think of my CPU cache or about the speed of light everytime I do something on my computer. We build abstractions because they improve our lives.

Should we dig deeper at some point? Sure. Should we know how to write a http streaming parser? Unless that's your business, who cares. Image processing is the perfect example. Should you know the difference between lossless and lossy? Sure. But that's mostly it. Just check the result works for you.

We wouldn't have most software if we started from scratch all the time.

I think your post is a little misleading, especially for newbies who just want to learn a trade.


Your post, I might be wrong, has an undertone of "look at me how amazing I am because I write compilers in Brainfuck" and it's one of those elitists traits that are damaging in the industry in the long term because even if you don't mean that either generate anxiety to new learners or make us look we're some sort of gods on the mountain top.

Oh believe me, I'm no god on a mountain. I just want to give a good kicking to the golden calf of the web framework. Not because I'm clever (I'm really not), or have mountains of computer science degrees or such. I'm genuinely annoyed that developers think that frameworks inevitable in their work, because I think they're more trouble than they're worth both in terms of using them and in term of the ignorance they promulgate.

And that's juniors and seniors both.

As to other abstractions - they're not my target. But I think that a web dev should be able to do what they need to do with HTML, CSS, JS and a server language of their choice. I think it empowers all devs to get more done.


This is how I took it, more of an empowering "You can do this" rather then condemning to people who use frameworks (myself included)

I'm glad you said this - it's what I was trying to get across (badly).

If that's the point you're making I'm fully behind it :)

I just try to put myself in the shoes of a beginner and understand how they will read a post like this. "You don't need a framework, anyone can make a great site without one" is a very different tone from "Frameworks are terrible and they make you a bad developer".

Imagine how you'd feel as a beginner if you struggled with something and someone experience told you that you were bad for choosing a certain tool?


I'm sure non brilliant developers exist, as I said it can be just a job, not everyone is in it to be a published author or recognized guru.

I also agree you should know the basics but I don't agree on the general assumption that ditching frameworks make you more productive. Ditching the wrong ones does so maybe we should teach juniors how to evaluate them.

For example: can you write a SPA without a framework? Sure. Should you? Please don't. Should you know how to evaluate the available frameworks despite the hype? Definitely.

Keep in mind that most frameworks are born in the same way: one or multiple devs tired of the options create a bunch of abstractions on basic code to be MORE productive.

You can spend a lot of time chasing quirks, I agree with that but choosing the wrong abstraction doesn't mean all abstractions are a bad idea.

I'm sure non brilliant developers exist, as I said it can be just a job, not everyone is in it to be a published author or recognized guru.

They sure do. I should know - I'm one of them. I don't like frameworks because my little brain finds there's too much to take in. However, I can speak 2 foreign languages so there must be something between my ears. It's the way I'm forced to think like a machine that I object to.

As for SPA, there's absolutely no reason why a framework is good. Wikipedia says "A single-page application (SPA) is a web application or web site that interacts with the user by dynamically rewriting the current page rather than loading entire new pages from a server".

You don't have to restart your browser every time you want a new page, so why should a web app be any different?

OK, so let's load parts of pages as they're needed. Good old AJAX. Load On Demand is so simple compared to building everything into a huge framework; even if you preload the entire thing all it really needs is a map where you can call items by name. Code as well as content, of course, so it works even better if code is supplied as high-level text that can be compiled on the fly. There's absolutely no limit to the size of website that can be handled in this way.

As for SPA, there's absolutely no reason why a framework is good.

But those reasons exist, there's evidence that frameworks can be helpful to build SPAs. We could argue about which is the best way to do it until the end of time but saying "framework = wrong always" is wrong in my opinion, because we can both easily find people who benefit from them. Maybe even just to build MVPs, who knows.

What we should ask ourselves is the cost of these frameworks and that has been debated a lot in this and other threads.

Sometimes it's worth it, sometimes it's not, sometimes unfortunately the worth or lack thereof will manifest itself later on. Sometimes it's even impossible to know. If someone builds a successful company or product and they do it with a framework and they manage to have mantainable code forever, should we care? If the company or product fails, is it because they chose framework X or because they were unlucky with time to market?

OK, so let's load parts of pages as they're needed. Good old AJAX. Load On Demand is so simple compared to building everything into a huge framework

A SPA is not just AJAX by the way: it's routing, browser history, app state, dom manipulation, probably SEO and maybe websockets if needed.

Can this all be solved by using libraries? Sure. But it's perfectly understandable why people end up standardizing around frameworks or popular libraries instead of doing it from scratch everytime.

There's absolutely no limit to the size of website that can be handled in this way.

Sure, but a lot of frameworks that are trendy now exists exactly because big companies had to find a way to standardize source code around huge code bases :D

It's always a question of worth vs cost.

Do I believe frameworks are always worth the cost? Absolutely not but I think this should be the argument, not "frameworks are bad and that's it" :)

We should educate people to make their own choices, telling them "bad framework, bad" is as damaging as picking up whatever framework is popular now and using it just because other people say it's cool without knowing the possible costs


I'm sure non brilliant developers exist,

this was definitely a poor choice of words to explain a concept, it was bad on my part, I apologize

No need apologise; I for one know my own limitations. That's one of the reasons I avoid complexity wherever possible, and to me frameworks heap complexity onto what is already a complex 'language'. I use the quotes deliberately as in my view JavaScript, Python and the rest aren't really languages at all; it's only the lack of a suitable name that causes us to reach for a term that is actually very misleading.

A true 'language' in the traditional sense of the word would have no need for either frameworks or even libraries in the sense we usually mean. The language would be sufficient in itself, just as English is to those who conduct business, law and a thousand other activities in it daily. Each of these domains has its own agreed meanings and 'extensions' that do the job of a library or a framework.

I've had a Damascene conversion. Inspired by HyperTalk from the 1980s I wrote a compiler for a source language comprising simple English sentences, and with this I'm able to take on any job I'm asked to perform. The details of things like browser history, DOM and the rest are encapsulated in extra vocabulary which domain experts instantly recognize as their own language. OK, there might be some cases that would cause problems but I can only speak for the ones I know.

My conviction is we're in a phase that will soon end, stuck in an endless loop furiously inventing and re-inventing frameworks when there's a black swan event coming; a whole new paradigm that will sweep them all away. I'm not smart enough to invent it but there are others out there who will.

That's one of the reasons I avoid complexity wherever possible, and to me frameworks heap complexity onto what is already a complex 'language'.

I agree on that, but basically everything adds complexity. What I don't like it's complexity for its own sake. Not everything can be simple, complicated things are fine, it's just that a lot of this complexity we're debating is a byproduct that shouldn't exist and I wonder if it's because we're marketing tools as a "one for all" when in theory they should be tools only for certain situations

A true 'language' in the traditional sense of the word would have no need for either frameworks or even libraries in the sense we usually mean. The language would be sufficient in itself

You should take a look at what the designers of Dark are trying to accomplish: What is Dark? and How Dark deploys code in 50ms - they are trying to work around this whole complexity thing that's slowly killing us :D

My conviction is we're in a phase that will soon end, stuck in an endless loop furiously inventing and re-inventing frameworks when there's a black swan event coming; a whole new paradigm that will sweep them all away. I'm not smart enough to invent it but there are others out there who will.

I agree in general. It's funny because most server side languages have been more or less stable for decades, it's not like frameworks don't exist, they live longer. The frenzy is mostly on the frontend side right now


I get your point and I mostly agree with it, but you've tagged this with #beginners and so I think it's wise not to speak in such definitive and harsh terms.

One of the most important things to stimulate the learning process and to keep people wanting to push forward is seeing results of what they do. It's why Hello World is the first thing we show usually with no other explanations than how to compile/run it.

So let's say we have a beginner wanting to learn webdev and they have an idea about the thing they want to make. Can they make it in vanilla html/css/js? Of course they can. If they know those languages inside and out. Which they don't. Because they're beginners.

So what if they take a simple framework and get their new thing out there? Does the world end? I'm all for people understanding the stack and not being trapped by a lib/framework's way of doing things, but there's a way to express that point without making beginners feel stupid for not being able to do without one for now.

Why is there always such a rush for a beginner to create a fully fledged website quickly?

Why is this always seen as so important? It seems to be the case because most bootcamps seem to start you off with rails or an equivalent.

Beginners dont have to rush in to make an amazing fully-fledged website. They should have the maturuity to realise that maybe it takes time to learn software development and running a few rails commands is not actually learning.

I can't argue with that but again it seems to me that the issue is not Rails, is the industry that's trying to churn devs that are not fully formed or teach them they just need to read a tutorial.

Maybe that's what we should rant against 😛


I think that's maybe the tone missing from OP but certainly what i get from it is that new developers would be better served learning the basics and making "simple" websites at first, rather than diving into a framework where the knowledge you learn is far less portable and sometimes quite harmful.

"Maybe that's what we should rant against."

That hits a nerve with me, because I think that's what happened to me. I raised my hand at work one day and said I'd like to help design and develop a new SPA, having only done one static site before. There was no one else I could learn from, so I went to a framework because they wanted the project (of unknown complexity) done in a certain amount of time. I needed a shortcut. Now, being that I didn't know JS, build systems, etc etc either, it was hard at times when I was stuck to know whether I needed to search SO or the framework docs, but the benefit as a new developer was the conventions and organization that the framework brought. Since that time 5 years ago, I've learned a LOT more about JS, and frameworks are somewhat easier to use. I think they are valuable when you have SPAs to build and low-maturity devs. And my opinion is that if you have a project of any complexity, and more than one developer, you will create your own conventions and your own system and unless everyone really knows what they're doing, it will be a Frankenstein framework anyway, so why not use a a framework like Angular, React, or Vue that already has established conventions and decent documentation, and then senior devs can help juniors identify where vanilla JS is the better option.

"So let's say we have a beginner wanting to learn webdev and they have an idea about the thing they want to make. Can they make it in vanilla html/css/js? Of course they can. If they know those languages inside and out. Which they don't. Because they're beginners."

That's kinda the point though. If you don't understand the basics enough to use the holy trifecta to make something. YOU NEED TO LEARN THEM!!! Why? Becasue all those frameworks and libraries use them. And adding another layer of abstraction on top of something you don't understand well is very difficult. I graduated from a coding bootcamp and knew React pretty darn well by the time I graduated. And now I work for a company building stuff in Angular 2+ all day every day. I find the thing that helps me grow the most as a dev is building complicated things with nothing but the basics. Learning to do that helps so much in equiping you to jump from framework to framework.


I share @NotARealDeveloper's sentiment - empowerment.

I'm actually going to look into the CSS variable thing - didn't know it existed... sass is what I know and like.

I will be a "master" when:

  1. I can assess if a framework is needed based on project complexity.

  2. I can tailor the frameworks - because I have better than decent knowledge of the underworking a and am comfortable to do so

This article is a nice reminder to deeply learn what's going on beyond the "yes it works" stage.


Your post, I might be wrong, has an undertone of "look at me how amazing I am because I write compilers in Brainfuck"

Disclaimer: I work with David.

A point he possibly didn't illustrate very well is that you dont need frameworks for most websites you'd ever build.

It's not showing off, it's trying to point developers in a direction where by just using the basics they can still make websites and in the long run the knowledge they learn will still be useful.

It's easier to avoid the temptation of frameworks and you certainly dont need to learn "low level" stuff. When making websites, if you learn the basics of HTTP, CSS, HTML and Javascript you will get extremely far. That's not low-level, its just without all the noise of frameworks.


Most websites though are basic CRUD, exactly what server side frameworks are made for. You still need to know the basics of Http, you still need to know CSS and HTML. I don't agree with your point because it looks like a blanket spread too wide to be actually relatable. Frameworks exist to save people and companies time, they are definitely not perfect but the article is a little too generic and bitter against them for me to actually relate, even if I can see frameworks pain points.

Are we talking about the issues of using ORMs? Let's talk about that. Are we talking about templating languages? Are they so much of a pain to deserve this post? I don't think so. Are we talking about MVC? As you said most websites are basic so MVC is not a big deal for them.

My feeling is that the rant started from a dislike of the proliferation and explosion of JavaScript frameworks and it took off from there eheh.

Again, learning the fundamentals is important but you can do that whilst using a framework nonetheless.


Amen brotha'!

Frameworks have their place, and they should be used. But NOT while you're still learning.

Please people, don't be "$framework Developer", be "Developers" first, and add $framework to your toolbelt.


Sometimes (perhaps many times, especially for junior devs) you may not have a choice, either because you don't have time to figure out how you want to do something like routing, or the team is already using a framework, so you end up becoming an "X" developer out of necessity.


As a professional developer, sure, I'd say it's helpful to learn the underlying layer at some point but it doesn't have to be now, tomorrow, or a year from now. There's so much to learn with computers it's impossible to get to everything even in a lifetime.

Some people can be interested in the outcome of programming, they aren't here for craft or solving puzzles, and that's awesome! It means we've made tools easy enough for people to be empowered to create a piece of the internet they want to see, which IMO is more important than what they are creating with or how they are creating.


I've some sympathy with this position - I'm an outcomes oriented kinda person too! I much prefer to just get stuff done rather then argue about monads. Or project directory structure. Or where to put the bins out.

But I'd argue that the tools we build at the apex - the so-called frameworks - do more to slow productivity than to enhance it. How long have I spent debugging an Angular app I didn't need, or a Wepack compilation failure for a simple piece of Sass that could have been CSS?

This I suppose is the stronger version of my position: it's not just that we all ought to know the underlying layer, it's that the things we're using on top are often actively harmful to getting things done.


I think for the situation you are describing you're right, unnecessary middleware can make simple tasks more complicated than it needs to be. Although if a tool is causing more problems than it solves, it's either not working correctly (buggy software) or it's life has probably run it's course (old software).


Its an old discussion but I must add. I am a physicist. I learned physics, from newtonina mecahnics to QM or QFT. If you want to be a physicist you have to know physics. If you want to be a web dev you have to know html, css and js. It is not to much to ask. Reinventing the wheel would be asking someone to invent new html or css or js not asking someone not to use a framework. I am new to web dev and I am wathing django tutorials and its a complete and utter chaos...If you are a web developer for real you should know your craft and your craft is html, css and js. Dont go to asembly of course...but frameworks seem to me as if I was trying to memorize physics and not understand it....If you understand frameworks and basics you should be able to make your own working pattern after some time and have your own shortcuts.


Yup - I like this idea around "memorising vs. understanding". Understanding is far more flexible and widely applicable. Memorising the individual quirks and tricks of a framework is fragile and narrow.


Yes and me being New to this it seems strange to me to use frameworks so much. Are you so bad at it that you can not develop one? Your own way of doing things I guess... Maybe it is really that complex and maybe frameworks are needed but learning django is driving me crazy.

In my experience (mainly of Ruby), some languages just don't have an ecosystem that allow you to escape a framework.

From what I hear Django is quite a heavy weight framework. Could you look for something a little more lightweight in Python?


Why do people like you like frameworks? Are you weak or are you stupid? Or both?

We got families to feed, duh! Many of us work for companies, we don't decide which language/framework/OS we're gonna use, etc, etc.

But I completely agree that you need to learn underlying stuff, especially the basic ones.


Hi, I am relatively new to web development.

I have built projects with HTML/CSS/small amount of JS and I have also built full apps with React. I have no issues making something with react. But I really struggle making something purely with JS/HTML/CSS.

Can anyone recommend any tutorials where they build a web app or website with no JS framework ? Or anywhere I can learn how to implement my JS skills? I struggle with setting out the JS and where to use it.


Even low-level languages like Assembly are just frameworks to move electrons around with, and the same is true for Python or Ruby, only at a higher level of abstraction.

I realize the spiteful and polarised rhetoric is intended to illicit responses and start a conversation, but it's unsurprising that those responses will often be equally spiteful and polarised.


From 30 years of dev experience I couldn't agree more, David.
And yes, I have to deliver quality web apps (and underlying APIs) at pace.

I baulk at the argument that frameworks speed up development. I find that writing Plain Old JavaScript gives me so much control over what to do with the results, so I can 'fiddle with the minutiae' of coding to make a great web app as I have that deep-down control in the first place.

Sure, there are repeated 'patterns' in development which I'm quite sure jQuery has reduced to a $ call, but when I want performance and have it under my control? I just write the pure JavaScript myself.

My take? It's better to remember the JavaScript patterns for a particular task, always.


Sure, if you want performance then it is good to be 'close to the metal'. High performance is a non-functional requirement that not all of us need, and it is better to focus on the domain than reinventing Knockout, Vue, react, angular, or whatever buzzword framework you want.

I find it hard to believe that writing your own frameworks for large Enterprise projects does not lead to slower development times than using a tested off the shelf solution.

What we should be teaching developers is how to understand when to use the tools available to them, not the equivalent of constructing a table saw every time they want build some furniture.

I worked most of my career as a server side guy and this hostility to frameworks is completely alien to me.


Thank you Nick - you put it better than I could. Or in fact did.


Disagree. Completely. Especially beginners should use frameworks, because they teach you how to structure your code. You don't learn MVC by reading a book, you learn MVC by grabbing Rails or Django and getting your hands dirty. (The same is true for all the other architectural patterns.)

I don't say that you should keep using frameworks all your live in all your projects, but frameworks take away some of your freedom - your freedom to code bullshit. Frameworks raise additional errors, they complain about stuff that might be completely fine outside the framework, but is not in the framework. It's not enough to learn the language when using a framework - frameworks make you read additional tutorials and documentation so that you learn how to apply the language.


Well I disagree completely too - so at least we have that in common!

you learn MVC by grabbing Rails or Django and getting your hands dirty.

I think all you'll learn is Rails or Django.

frameworks take away some of your freedom - your freedom to code bullshit.

Sure. But, in the words of Jeff Goldblum, "Bullshit finds a way". Frameworks just mean you'll code your bullshit in new mutant strains around the framework's constraints.

frameworks make you read additional tutorials and documentation

Isn't this a bit of a smell? When half of the books published on programming seem to be about how to use a particular framework? Always seems weird to me...


I give you a "like" because of Jeff Goldblum. :-))))


The amount of sass in this article is incredible.

That aside, yes. Stick to the basics, so that, if your job requires you to actually work with a framework, you can point out what the hell is wrong with their code BECAUSE they used that framework.


The amount of sass in this article is incredible.

Its just plain CSS! 😉


I agree with many of your points, such as understanding how the lower layers (HTTP, SQL) work.

But not using a framework will cause a lot of headaches. Writing code for a toy website is one thing, but writing one that supports real users and customers is another thing. No developer would want to write original code for SSL, user authentication, a templating tool, all those HTTP headers, a caching module, session handling, a custom ORM, etc.. Writing original code for authentication alone would be extremely risky and prone to security flaws.

I "get it" that developers need to understand what's under the hood. They should have CS fundamentals down. But not using a framework and trying to write all new code for a website is a bad idea for 99% of projects.


David, sounds like you need to check out Vanilla JS framework. I bet it will become your favorite framework after looking at it for 5 minutes. Maybe in even less time.


time to learn the basics, son.

Lol - hoisted on my own petard...


I think some people are reading what was said too literal here.

I know what the post says but don't read it too literal. Think about what it says.

He's not saying you go out and write your own parser. He's not saying you go out and write your own web socket implementation. He's not saying you go out and write everything in pure machine language.

He's saying to think about what you're coding. Think about what is going on. Think about things before you even write code. Think how it fits with what you're currently doing.

When you start to do this then you actually can pick the right tool for the job. There is no 100% rule them all framework. Don't think there is or think you HAVE to do it in this.

That is what the post is actually saying. I know what it looks like it is saying if you just read it word for word, but like most things there is more too it.


Yes. But it's also tagged #beginners who don't have the experience or confidence to read between the lines and get at the gist. They will read it literally and be dismayed because it makes it sound like they need to write their own everything before being a good developer.


That is where I think I'll have to disagree.

I've been a beginner (we all have) and I remember vividly being a beginner. I remember the advice I got as a beginner. I've had some of my favorite nentors and even the one person who changed my entire life and got me interested in software development in the first place give me advice very similar to how this is written.

I believe part of being a beginner and learning is figuring out and taking the time to think about what your should do vs. researching "how do I do X an Y in Z framework."

So I'll stand by and say I've had similar advice when I was beginning and it was some of the best advice I ever got.


The last sub-header of this post is: "Learn the basics, not someone's abstraction". That should have been the title of this post.

But the actual title, which is more polarizing, definitely caused more pageviews. So dev.to should be happy.


True, it would've been a much better title. If I'd proofed the piece and let it sit for a few days it probably would be the title. But it was a hot day and I wanted it done by lunchtime. So it goes.


Thanks for keeping things relatively civil in the discussion, folks. This sort of thing definitely riles people up. Thanks for the contribution and discussion David!


I do agree on the js, but not on sass. Sass is still good, because of utterly-stupid-mixins and placeholders. Specially placeholders. Placeholders are amazing to make someone understand what inheritance is, when it can be a so-called pain in the butt, when it can save you from writing about a hundred lines. A lesser known benefit of sass is, it is a very gentle was of introducing someone to command line.


I've been meaning to reply to this comment all day, because it really stuck in my head. Thanks Samia.

I've never really considered people moving in to development via CSS as their first step. Yes, in this sense Sass makes a lot of sense - a more complex language with more things to use. I wouldn't want to get in the way of a pedagogical technique - it's great.

But I guess my counter point would be that I would want to demonstrate some of those principles you mention above in a more general purpose programming language like Ruby or PHP.

But it's really about what interests people sometimes; if you're very in to your CSS, Sass could be a wonderful thing to learn and use. I think I'll have to think more.


You're welcome. Since we are talking about newbies and people slightly more experienced than that, I hope this comment gives you some more food for thought.

a lot of people, including programmers who are experienced in other fields, starts their web programming with HTML and CSS. Now, an experienced programmer knows how scope and inheritance works (really, once you know some basics of management; yes, management; it's common sense. so newbies can know it too) and it's very natural to them by the point they start web programming (I only know PHP and not a lot of it, so I may be wrong) and they absolutely rebel (ok, I exaggerated, but bear with me) at the idea of having a global scope for gasp everything. They then think of conditions, but oops, CSS doesn't have it either. but they can't escape CSS, their site won't look so nice and shiny without it, so you get three different classes that do the same thing slightly differently. If you are teaching someone, scope and inheritance can absolutely be demo'ed using general purpose language,but in the context of web programming, specially if you are not going the js heavy route,it's perhaps not a very good idea. Because, well, debugging. Debugging a global-variable-gone-wrong in any semi-complex code is very, very hard in javascript (YKJS has some very nice examples). In PHP, either you look at your screen, baffled at why your program is behaving that way or you get an error. But CSS? it's easy. it's not a programming language, but you can make it behave (somewhat) like one. Add Sass to the mix and you get an almost programming language, loop and if-else is back in business and you can finally write proper local scope without the code looking like a pile of a random-language-dictionary. Debugging is still difficult, but now you don't have to go through all the code you've ever written and while debugging, a light-bulb goes off in your head and you realize global scope is "actually" very useful in CSS, perhaps a lot more than in any general purpose language. it goes the other way around too, someone who doesn't know the first thing about programming principles can quickly catch on because they can see the problem (the entire language is the scope problem) and the solution, all in one place.

Also, let us talk about CSS variables. They are incredibly useful, but they don't really makes sense, not yet. I know it is controversial, but read on. I say this because there's no "operation" on them, not yet. CSS has no loops, no if-else, no functions (I'm not counting calc()). So I get this question a lot "but, I can just write them there, right? won't that be easier?" It's like the new shiny gold heels in my wardrobe, it complements my dress fabulously but I could just as easily have worn the dress with another pair. But variables in Sass makes sense. you can just hold a value or you can hold a value and run operations on them. So when you write "You don't need Sass, CSS has variables now." it does not show the whole picture. CSS feels restrictive to a lot of people, which in result makes them want to use frameworks to "just get it over with". Sass can make them learn the fundamentals, which is the whole point of your article.

So my point is, even though general purpose languages can be used to make someone see the programming principles, when you are web programming, CSS and Sass are the easiest choice. And CSS by itself, is not very interesting to programmers who already had a lot of freedom with other languages, which in turn, encourages them to "bootstrap their site to death". Sass can actually make CSS interesting and in turn, they learn how it works, write better code and don't use unnecessary frameworks.


Wow... So much hate for just trying to say "maybe understand JavaScript a bit more before you become a JavaScript framework Dev". Like David said, frameworks will come and go, the basics are the same, learns those. And to boot, he is literally saying it because he wants you to be a better Dev!


just trying to say "maybe understand JavaScript a bit more before you become a JavaScript framework Dev"

Indeed, if this is all the author said, then any real backlash would be an over-reaction.

He set the tone by opening with insulting both people's work (the frameworks) and then people themselves:

Frameworks are all terrible. All of them....Why do people like you like frameworks? Are you weak or are you stupid? Or both?

If you call people's work terrible and then imply that other people are weak and stupid - what reaction should be expected?


I guess I just took it as hyperbole.

I think this might all boil down to British humor that isn't coming through for all the readers (myself included).

It is the mix of hyperbole with actual advice that make it difficult for me to understand what is intended - education or satire.

I just try to take everything as positively as I can. Frameworks are great but junior devs often get mixed up about what is JavaScript versus what is framework. Learning JavaScript will help you be able to use the frameworks better.

I love British humor over American humor. Maybe that's why I could relate! Haha


I agree that a good developer should have the foundation, knowledge and skills related to basic development first. But there's absolutely nothing wrong with using a JS framework. Majority of developers code for a living, for a business, where productivity is always measured. A decent framework will usually aid most solid developers with their productivity. In 2018, if I see a developer not leveraging frameworks or whatever tools are available to them, I'll question their ability to deliver solutions within a reasonable timeframe.


I completely agree, i have seen bunch of people in various projects what they thought were front-end/full-stack devs. First thing they installed bootstrap and jQuery and spend hours of stackoveflow-ing how to use it, ended up in CSS/JS/HTML in the same 1 file, not scalable, testable nor maintenable application/web. Having tens of ($)plugins what are doing the same thing, but why not use every time different one? It's so easy and convenient, but having no idea about synchronous javascript and calling yourself a developer is out of common sense.

When i introduced CSS/SASS/Vanilla JS they were completely lost, they couldn't understand any of the OOP or Classes nor "this". Idea of having JS/CSS/HTML in separate files was completely new to them. Funny the same developers were pushing to use React or Angular - very scary scenario.

Having a deadlines or doing your job is not an excuse for anybody's knowledge! I would not trust doctor, surgeon, painter, construction worker... if they would have no idea what they are doing but they can somehow deliver because it's their job.

If you want to learn and be a developer don't expect your company to pay you to learn - as it was mentioned you are there to give them solutions. If you want to learn about development take your own time for it, read, watch curses - whatever is the best for you, just don't expect that somebody will tell you at work to take time off to learn how to write code.

I have taken an approach in our team to completely strip and get rid of anything jQuery and re-wrote it in Vanilla JS. Now i can really see what is the maturity of our team and once we get the basics right we can think of a framework what will embrace our work and our effectiveness.


It looks like the real issue is the learning material or the will to learn by devs, not the existance of frameworks on some internet page 😛


This guy gets it.

The entire discussion here is a red herring: "the noobs use frameworks as a crutch because they can't code good, therefore frameworks be bad"

We should focus on teaching juniors good programming principles instead of trying to convince everyone that frameworks are a bad idea.


If I had no budgetary constraints in most jobs I held, I would code in assembly



if you work alone, yes you don't need to use any framework. Build up your basic first and as long it works, don't give bug, and the client satisfies with it, it is ok.

but if you work with a team, you need a standard structure for people to working together. for me, that is the point of having a framework.

I have been in a company that doesn't really use a framework, any framework, they just hate it when I mention about changing their development method from vanilla to framework. The manager will look at me like he will kill me if I mention any framework.

oh heck, the even don't use OOP approach.

for 8 years, it is pain in the a**.


but if you work with a team, you need a standard structure for people to working together. for me, that is the point of having a framework.

Have you tried talking and collaborating with your team? Is it really neccessary for a framework to enforce a collective sense of what software should look like?


It isn't necessary, it just costs time to roll-you-own. Which means money (salary mostly) and opportunity (time-to-market mostly).

When you use an existing framework you save time in at least these areas:

  • Writing documentation and keeping it up to date
  • Getting a new hire up-to-speed
  • Implementing new features
  • Guarding against security vulnerabilities^
  • Getting answers to questions without costing the time of a teammate

^ Security is a big one, Rails for example has a bounty program for finding and reporting vulnerabilities. Is your team paying someone to find security vulnerabilities so you can patch them before they are exploited?


Being a dev before the css/js frameworks hit the scene has jaded my views on frameworks. Basically, learn the underlying language then use frameworks. Nothing worse than wasting time interviewing a candidate that knows Angular but cannot write a simple array and filter in JavaScript.


I've seen this same article theme rehashed many times, but never quite this condescending. The whole premise is a fallacy because "Someone's abstractions" IS programming at every level, all the way down to the hardware. The message just boils down to "Learn Browser APIs", which is fine, but they are just "frameworks" built into the browser and that knowledge will get stale too. In the real world, almost every serious app uses a framework because they save time, save money, and just produce better products than vanilla browser code.


I can see both sides of this. Although I don't think it was worded as well as it could have been in the article, I don't think frameworks are always necessary.

Being a person who learned jQuery before I really learned javascript, I can understand why it's appealing to learn a framework so you can make something work. Eventually jQuery either wasn't challenging enough or I wanted to know what was going on under the hood so I learned javascript. I don't know that I would have continued with web development long enough to reach the point of learning pure javascript if I hadn't started with the framework and seen immediate results.

On the other hand, knowing how to do things without a framework is definitely a capability to have. Understanding both the reason for the framework and how to use the framework is much easier when you know how to do things with plain old javascript. It also means you can appreciate how much of the heavy lifting the framework may be doing.

I really just think it depends on the person and what they are motivated to do. If you're a person who wants immediate results to see what you can do with it, go with the framework and learn the "under the hood" stuff later. If you want a better foundation before diving into the framework, learn pure javascript or whatever.

Just do whatever makes you most excited and you'll eventually figure it out.


Hey, thanks for the well reasoned and polite response!

To address your point about jQuery/JavaScript directly - I honestly believe that the capabilities of JavaScript in a modern browser make a library like jQuery redundant. I don't think you need to learn the 'under the hood' stuff later - I think that it's powerful and simple enough to do what you need to do, for both new developers and seniors.

Just do whatever makes you most excited and you'll eventually figure it out.

This is always true.


I agree about the redundancy, but when I learned it things were a bit more difficult. Not to mention for someone just starting out, I want to build things. Learning if/thens, variables, and calculations are cool, but it’s not directly apparent to a beginner how to make an offcanvas drawer slide out when you click a button.

The sheer popularity of jQuery made it very easy to find code/tutorials for this. Heck, I google an issue I’m having with vanillajs and the first 5 links are jQuery solutions.


This is a disturbing article. Does anyone seriously claim that it's easier for beginners to use a framework? Like, if you don't know how to write a form element without a framework, you'd have to be a masochist to try to learn to do it with one. And, if you've managed to figure out how to make one with a framework, going back and learning how to do it without one will seem trivially easy.


If I could like this more than once I would!

The web has changed so much in the last couple of years, and the first thing I tell new devs is to not fixate on these frameworks and learn the fundamentals.

From now on, this is the article I will send them too! Thanks!


The day I heard someone talk about "Native Javascript" I realised the level of idiocy to which front end web development has come. I guess that's why some people say they're "coders" instead of "programmers"...


We all have anecdotes about people who have said stupid things. I've met some extremely incompetent back-end developers too.

But if you genuinely believe that all front-end development is idiotic then you're a bit out of touch. Maybe try to find a community of serious front-end developers and open a dialogue with them instead of just writing them off as mere "coders". You might just learn a thing or two :)


WOW!... You missed the point completely... That was no anecdote: there is a whole host of people talking about "Native Javascript".
Plus, when I say "some people" I expect you to interpret this as "some people" and not "everyone". It never occurred to me that I would have to explain this to anyone.
Try learning a bit of English. You might just figure out a thing or two.


I was -really- skeptical until this line: "...but you still don't really know how HTTP works. Or what a POST request looks like. Or how to write a form element. Or how to use a database without some freaky ActiveRecord nightmare layered on top...". After that I was sold.

You points are all valid. To much today is abstracted away from the base technologies.

Well written article, well stated points, great ending.


It's funny because I feel like the dev out of the "cool kids" block 'cause I've always been doing programming in plain HTML, CSS, JavaScript (a little bit of Jquery) and Java and C for that matter. And all I hear around is the people talking about NodeJS, React, Angular, web frameworks for Python, Ruby, Go and God knows what else will come after.


Thank you for this. I recently worked under a developer who used frameworks for everything. His thinking was completely governed by them. It was awful. Seeing people defending frameworks as a solve-all tool is a depressing reflection of the state of our industry :-( . "Know what you're doing" (a bit) should really not be seen as elitist.


Hello David,

Thank you for sharing with us your thoughts and feelings about the usage of web frameworks.

I've noticed recently, that web frameworks become a new life style in web development. Tutorials, dev camps, cons, everywhere we talk about them. Corporations and sponsors promote the usage of frameworks and their whole ecosystem, and attract developers, mostly beginners, in my opinion, for one reason : "Sales".

But, as a developer, novice or expert, or as a team, do we really need web frameworks for our projects? I don't think so.

Web frameworks give you "wings", like red bull, but enforce you a specific way of how "to fly". They are useful for rapid application development (aka RAD). It's a double-edged tool to use with caution.

We are missing solid and robust libraries to make the jobs done. That libraries handle simple issues, like cookie serialization, HTTP request parsing, middleware dispatching, etc, and let you mix them as you like and how you like.

An all-fit framework doesn't exist, and will never be.


Thank you David Wickes

May you live long.

I do choose frameworks. If i can not use HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, ASP, SQL, and C#/Java; I should try another career path.

This has been my own rule since day one and I keep to it.
For the first time I find a bold article clearly written about a decision I made years ago.
I am more comfortable with the good old Notepad for all coding, and sometimes the MVS IDE.

I still use DOS commands to manage my directories.
Yes, I am not the best out there, but the little I know gives me joy.

Your article, Sir, gives me the courage to continue learning and applying.
I also understand you did not say, 'do not use frameworks'.

Thank you so much, it means a lot to me, I feel energized, because I like digging things to their root. I like knowing what things are, why and how, they work.

Thank you David Wickes, I am following you from today onward.

I am Mr. Chieki Chukwuezugo


OMG thank-you for this. I hate everything about the current state of web development. The arrogance, the zealotry and the emphasis on trendy frameworks. It's so infuriatingly stupid that people create a rube goldberg level of complexity in order to use a screw driver to hammer in a nail.

While most of the people doing this probably don't know any better I can't help but think this is an indictment of the entire profession. Back in I think it was the Baroque Era of music musicians figured out a way to use complexity as a wedge to keep out amateur musicians. They would purposely write sheet music in extremely difficult keys that only very experience musicians could play easily. Then when someone in the aristocracy asked for a certain song to be played they needed to have a very experienced musician in order to play it.

I can't help but think developers have done the same thing with web development. Everyone has created these massively complex and overly specific frameworks on top of relatively simple underlying code. Solutions are really just band-aid that break down quickly as soon as any element in an overly complex system is updated. Instead of creating robust solutions developers become these religious fanatics for their framework because the more people who use their framework the more marketable their skills become.


Thank you for your writing.
I would like to address my personal point of view at the problem describe.

Frameworks are all terrible. All of them. I'm serious - they are making you all into bad developers. Stop using them now.

That's remind me of the saying of one friend of mine:

All languages sucks, some less than the others.

I could not agree more with the second. What I do not agree is that using a framework is not necessarily making you into a bad developer.
The exemple of the "right" framework for the task has already been introduce into the comment so I'll arg on another one: Sometimes, you do not need to understand more than the gross picture. For exemple, one might realize an application making real time image through a webservice. The "most" important part is the rendering. He migh use an http framework getting care, at least for the short term, the web part and concentrate on the rendering. You don't need to know how a car works inside its engine to drive it.
That being said, the gross picture (at least) should be acquired.
Also, even if framework may come with a number of tools useless to you, sometimes it is still the right fit (like QT for C++).
And then, arrive the professional question. You have deadline and possibly an existing environment. If a company use React (more Library than framework) it may be counter productive to ask the newcomer to not use React to learn how to make a renderer lib themself.
Same kind of problematic with deadline.

Of course, it works also the other way around, sometimes we got the times an resources and no particular need of an existing framework.

On another subject, I think it's not appropriate to attack the author credibility with terms such as "fanatic". The discussion is much more interesting without "ad homines" attack. Sorry if it sounds bold of me, but I think someone who put work into writing deserve better.


Man, I have so seen the light. Since MSFT decided to ditch their browser and go with Chromium I've come to believe that webcomponents and no frameworks are the way to fly for the VAST majority of projects. I took up your TODO challenge and knocked up an app with multiple components all chatting away to each other - and async to the server - in 400 lines of JavaScript (complete with EvilBoss adding pointless meetings). And nary a framework in sight: github.com/petercz1/todo_no_framew...

The only extra bit I had to master was how pubsub works in JS. Now I have that cracked I know what's happening in every line of code. Can't say that when you do npx create-react-app wutevah...


This guy is obviously a Gungan. I also think people are crazy for going to a grocery store when they aren't going to buy everything or even half of the things. Why don't they learn to milk a cow or grow their own fruits and veggies? The same principle applies. Because having things you don't need is the American way!


Very true and great to see someone say this. Even if a bit harsh. I’m an author of a framework and agree as my framework is an extension vs a abstraction. But I built it for use as an extra to fundamentals vs replacement.

But let’s talk about the elephant in the room, hiring.. recruiters and hiring managers value framework proficiency over fundamentals. Most won’t even look at a resume without react or angular. They won’t even care if you can’t spell javascript if you can speak to react apis or some basic concepts. Sorry but this is “our” fault as a js community. I don’t have answers or a solution but just something to think about.


thanks. I'm endlessly fighting against the opposite theory, i'm tired of people who say: "why do you reinvent the wheel?" I don't want a car. I want a damn bike. I don't want to destructure a car to get a bike. I know well how to use javascript, css or html. And I hate jquery. I understand "ajax" is not "jquery". I know what "querySelector" is. I don't need 10 levels of abstraction just to write some text in a div.


I think all will use framework, knowing basically is a must. it will take how long to work on a project if we work without framework.

in the framework there are many thoughts of people we may miss, maybe a security issue, effective code, bugs, etc.if you do not like the existing framework, create your own framework and enjoy yourself.


Ideally use and don't use them. Lots of my vanilla-work has been inspired by ideas from frameworks and libraries.

When interviewing, I try to keep the topic on fundamentals, because I assume if those are in place then you can work on all kinds of projects.

Where I get mad is when non-developers (like sales and marketing) are trying to force usage of a certain framework, just so they have a cool buzzword to throw around. I needed to justify more than once why the e-commerce-pages we do don't use Angular/React/$SPA-Library. Spoiler Alert: BECAUSE IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE FOR A SHOP!


Amen - there's a whole other post to be written about how frameworks become poisonous buzzwords, especially in recruitment.


I agree with this article and also appreciate the points made in the comments.

When I first started out in my career I used frameworks heavily. I knew there was a lot under the hood that I didnt understand yet. When I became comfortable enough with a variety of frameworks I took a step back and decided to learn how everything actually works. Was kind of a big eye opener for me.

I appreciate how frameworks can make things quick and easy to develop a project, but I personally like to look at what a framework has done well and use the individual components I actually need and create my own libraries. I dont like relying on things that might fade from existence sooner than later and prefer to use the language these frameworks are based on.


When do you really need a framework? Hopefully never, but that's actually not the point.

When would you want a framework? When you are working in a larger team (or with multiple teams on the same product) - then a framework will provide a layer of abstraction that allows you to be on the same page without a lot of learning, discussions, etc. - but never let your knowledge of frameworks replace your knowledge of the underlying APIs and processes: that's the point.

I convinced my team to write at least the pages that the user needs to see fast in vanilla JavaScript, though. The rest of the application is currently being rewritten in react (the legacy code we are replacing is in durandal/knockout).


Hey David,

Awesome article. It inspired me to try writing code with less frameworks. It exposed some holes in my knowledge as a dev but also helped me to gain some important skills and insight. Keep it up.

You can view my code at the Github link below!



I write things all the time without a "framework." And there are other things I use a Library with. And yet there are large multi person, multi team projects where using Angular, or Polymer or Golang or some other framework is smart. It's more about your willingness and ability to build and choosing smart tools to achieve and then maintain the objective. IMO.


I used to make fun of frameworks until my nightmare during my computer science final year project. I went against all advice to use laravel and other frameworks and being a fluent php javascript coder I decided to hard code a CMS from ground up. Meanwhile my other colleague who had an even more complex project than mine went with laravel and within a week he had completed a prototype. I presented my prototype in the third week and it took me over a month to finish my CMS and it was littered with msny bugs. I paid dearly for my stubbornness and since then I hv come to learn that clients only want a robust and working application. They don't care how u developed it. Also the faster you are with your working deliverables the more u gain a good reputation. I hv now adopted an attitude of learning a language then follow immediately by learning a popular framework of that language for rapid development. It has paid handsome dividends.


Created an account just to comment here. Ended up here after some frustrations on working with materialize which no one knows why its included in our projects. Everywhere devs are utilizing frameworks without even analyzing whether they ctually need it or not. And for God-sake change the background color of your follow icon or the follow text to something less contrasting and pleasing to the eye. I cannot read the article at all without zooming in to get that button out of my sight!


And for God-sake change the background color of your follow icon or the follow text to something less contrasting and pleasing to the eye.

You're the first person ever to mention this - it was deliberately horrible, but I will change it now!


This is why I think I use frameworks...

Because I'm a lazy bastard. Only in a few personal projects I've built things from scratch (backend), And I did that because I was really interested on building those systems the best way I could and because that specific feature was really the core of my project and the one I thought it should not depend on third party software.

When you have deadlines and you are going to forget everything about that project after 12 months. It does not really matter how you build it and how much effort you spent on it. You just need to finish it.

Only when you are your own client you are critical enough to build things from scratch.


I like this reply, as it focuses on where frameworks shine: short term, quick project based work for a client to a deadline.

But then I remember this tweet...


Once, back then in 2012, I was working with a customer. We where making the bussiness case for an integration between my customer's ERP and their logistic's vendor WMS.
We met with the vendor's CEO and he told us he was finishing the development of their own operating system... Then I thought, "He must have misunderstood what he is buying".
Anyway, later that week we meet with the developer... And indeed, he was developing a whole operating system to support the warehouse's operations. He was leading that development since 2010.
Time has gone by, two years later I mounted my own software shop so I lost contact with the case.
A few months ago, casually met my customer... He is still struggling with that integration and his vendor never implemented his software.

This post reminded my that case, even if it's not the meaning of it.


You know what, frameworks are the reason I say I'm not a front end dev.

I can do nearly anything reasonable, and some less so, in sql alone-just give me enough time ok?

Today we had to duplicate a spreadsheet of aggrated results with um.... Just html and the result set. This set is a table whose entire content is a single result. 216 cells worth.

We generated the entire table in maybe 30 lines of c# and some dog simple css.

Its really rather nice, it's readable, we can maintain further pages this way.

And yet we are novices at html, css, and hardly ever touch javascript.

The work is worth money to someone.

Over complicating the front end is what my perception of frameworks is. If all I've got to do, to be a front end dev, is do a decent job of generating reasonable html and know my css, I can manage that.


Hello everybody,

First of all, thank you @DavidWickes for this post.

As others, I agree that the 'title' might be misleading but once you read the 'body' or let's say, the article itself, the misleading is clarified and solved.

To add some value to the discussions and put it simply while reinforcing the article: I agree and recommend what David Wickes states BUT I would separate it in two differing paths:

1) If you have never learned to program and want to be a programmer or related to it (software engineer, tester, architect, user...), then start as he mentions, spending 3-5 years learning the fundamentals.

Do that by:

1.1) ask yourself what topics would you like to specialize: are you going to be a Data Scientist, a Web developer, a Mobile developer, back-end, front-end or full-stack developer? Kernel developer or FW developer? Low-level languages or high-level languages? Compiled or interpreted? Caring of memory issues or let the choosen-language do it for you? Long etcetera. It might take you even a day or more to decide that but is worth it to spend some time to decide your future career and professional life.

1.2) do you want actually to "specialize" or be more a "generalist"? Meaning, do you one to pick-up one environment (mobile, web, business-process, business-apps, database-mgmt...) and be a master/guru solely on that topic(s) or do you want to be a programming-polyglot where you can program in 3+ languages, know OOP, algorithms fundamentals, etc and being able to apply to practically any job/environment but without getting deeper on those topics?

1.3) once went through them, start by learning fundamentals on that direction as suggested by the article:
1.3.1) search algorithms.
1.3.2) sort algorithns.
1.3.3) pseudocode usage.
1.3.4) design principles.
1.3.5) http
1.3.6) database & SQL.
1.3.7) one programming language that feeds previous decisions:
1.3.8) c/c++ for OS, kernel, cross-platform & performance needs.
1.3.9) java, python, ruby for non-performance needs, high-level needs.
1.3.10) JavaScript, PHP, CSS, HTML (long etc era and also the ones in 1.3.9) for web development.
1.3.11) IOS or android for Mobile DEV.

2) you are already an experienced developer but that relied too much on existing frameworks without first jumping to the fundamentals, then please go throw all points listed up in the 1) and 1*). It is time perhaps for you to go throw it deeply.

Hope it adds some help to what @david maybe (and I say "maybe") not that correctly wrote in the 'title' but that expertly described in the article's body.

Kind regards


Well, I finished refactoring my first major project (that wasn't a static website), and now that I've gone vanilla, it's simpler to maintain, easier to use, and a heck of a lot faster - 76% faster.

Oddly enough, the amount of vanillaJS it needs to work is less overall, as I'm not fighting to make an unnecessary framework function properly anymore.


Recently I fired off a new react app and then ran tokei on it - 2 MILLION lines of JavaScript - and I haven't written anything yet.

And I'm supposed to teach Bootcamp students how this all works? Can anyone claim they know how 2 million lines of code work?

Anyway, I started fiddling around with web components after watching Vaadin's video, and after a morning's work I had a bunch of components all maintaining state and yakking away with each other - in 274 lines of code, and not a single framework (or library) in sight (demo)

Since ES6 and the demise of Explorer/old-style Edge, I can't help feeling the whole giant front-end frameworks business is in it's final days.

Anyway, great work and excellent points.

p.s. had a quick shufty at your TODO project - looks like fun, I'll see if time permits!


Guy A: 12 = 4 x 3
Lady B: 12 = 6+6
Guy C: 12 = 22 + 2*3 + 2

Framework noob : C is definitely simpler,better, and more elegant than B and A because I can clearly see the Quadratic property in there!



Well I get the point of “you should learn what’s behind”, but no one ever said that because they were using a framework, they’d never need to learn the underlying technology.

I started with AngularJS and progressively learnt how it works behind the scene. I learned new patterns and coding good practices, I learned its strengths and shortcomings, what to watch out for when coding things on my own (even outside of AngularJS).

So in retrospect, I’d encourage newcomers to actually use a framework so that they get a glimpse of what is recommended to do, what is comfortable to use, so they can slowly get up to speed on what they need to know about the web without shoving their head into a wall of bricks, because right now that’s what webdev is to the unwarned newby.

If I said “Don’t use any of that, do your own stuff to better understand”, I’d expect them to probably do shit, get frustrated at their unmaintainable and buggy mess, do some more shit, get frustrated again, quit and go become a carpenter or something.

“I’m fascinated by wood. I’d like to decorate my appartment with wooden furniture then later maybe make my own, where could I buy som…
— Pffrt, don’t buy wooden furniture, you’ll never truly understand the beauty of wood. Start by making your own furniture, so that you really understand what you’re getting into, the implications behind every table and chair you see. Feel the underlying material, if IKEA is making wooden stuff, so can you!
— Ugh, maybe I’ll become a programmer instead.”


This was amazingly accurate and hilarious. Tomorrow I'm going to share this at my company and watch the hate roll in: it's a Java shop and for some reason, Java devs tend to love their frameworks.

I think the comments will be similar to what they were here: many people following the slippery slope fallacy, not realizing that this is a satirical argument, that presents the absurdity of contracting a factory when all you needed was your neighbors toolbox.

So, do you have to do some work? Yes. It's a job that you are paid to do.
Do you need to spend the more part of your time figuring out why the aforementioned factory is on strike, or do you yourself twist that screwdriver?

I'll tell you what I'm going to do: borrow the tools and ask him to show me what's worked best for him. Maybe I'll learn something new. Maybe I'll just be a little more familiar with a neighbor.


Good read with strong sarcasm.
I see many people are against your approach to pass the bitter truth but your message was clear.

As a teacher and a group's moderator, i see many beginners struggle with frameworks.

95% of the times, its because they haven't learnt the basics of a language or the stack (html, css, js, http, database mgt et al) needed to build stuffs.

So they can't really tell if its a framework or a language problem.

I don't really pity them. If you want to become an engineer, there are steps to take.
Skip....and you'll pay the price someday. The benefits of knowing what happens behind the scenes outweighs the cost of not knowing.

Good stuff


I saw this article and it helps me to learn more the basics and documentation syntaxes on MDN more than using the frameworks. It'll help us to build easy but when the debugging comes to development we'll never know what will happen.

Big thumbs up for this! ✌


Make sure you don't live in a house either. Find a cave, kill the bear in it with your bare hands (using tools is cheating), light a fire somehow and try to survive. Then let the natural selection kick in.


Could I kill the bear with the bear hands I still have left over from the last time I did this? Just asking.


Sure! The question is will preaching around the village how using tools to kill a bear is stupid make you a first-degree or second-degree murderer.


I also find amazing the rampant epidemic of strawman and other fallacious remarks in the comments.
If you are sane, you will decide on wether you should use a framework or not based on cost/benefit analysis. Obviously.


OMG! No kidding, I was crying after reading, may be the 5th paragraphs. Look, I am not 100% against using frameworks. But there are many situations that we don't need one. And, I have a hard time understand why we would need one for most content based websites. 99% of the time, when a comment site needs major redesign, whatever framework you have chosen to use would have be so outdated that you will have to get rid of it completely, which, of course, defeat the so called "benefit"of using a framework.

My biggest complaint about any framework is that they make developing simple site/app complicated. Take Vue as an example. It is supposed to be lighter, simpler than React, but it is heavily relied on using the cli if you ever seriously into creating components. The problem is that the moment you start using the cli, you lose the simplicity of web development. Your client side code suddenly won't work at all without being built! What makes things even worse is that, some people don't even realize that! They look at their codes and sees that they are using "import", but they don't know that the "import" they are using isn't exactly the same one from the web standard.


Github is hardly a shining example how things should be done. First of all, the simplest things does not work in somewhat recent browsers. Maybe it was better to keep jQuery? After all they still use bootstrap, and deliver 600k of JS-code, 500k of CSS, and 100k for a very simple repository landing page. Seriously, the page could be done in 100k total with mostly pure HTML and a few drops of JS.


Good marketing with the click-fury-bait title. Lovely article by the way, it is very amusing to see how developers can not read between the lines and start arguing with the author. People are so overzelaous on sarcastic generalisation like it is a new shiny framework they wanna try out. Funny but still to the point article (for those who don’t get upset immediatelly).


As a 20 year dev that just got into the job market, I feel like I have a few things to say. For starters, I studied 3 years in web development and multimedia in a Québec college (Cegep) and we started with learning the basics (JS, CSS and HTML php and MySql later). Later on we leanred about JQuery, SCSS and Laravel. I believe that this is the best way to learn about the core first and then learn about frameworks later on. Frameworks and libraries make it easier when you've learned about the basics first. New devs should learn the basics first, life is gonna be much easier after that. Sidenote, In my current job, we're using AngularJs, and I was able to pick that up pretty easily even if I never touched Angular before. Sorry for the rambling, Have good day and have fun coding!


@gypsydave5 , as one of my coworkers said after reading your article, "Using the right technology for what you're solving... revolutionary!" I live by the "KISS" it philosophy. If you want to get the most bang for your buck, do the least amount of work to get the biggest return. Sometimes that's using a web framework; sometimes not. I also wrote sort of a rebuttal to this on dev.to. Check it out on my profile if you want. Cheers!


This is a huge problem in the web development world. I find myself writing up libraries in javascript, simple things like listening to scroll wheel events, or making a cross browser compatible animation with basic sine trig math. But I have co-workers that are just baffled by the idea and don't understand it, then try to convince me to use libraries. And I backwards engineer those libraries and present to them, do they really want to use a library with a butt load of dependencies and thousands of lines of code vs a 20-30 line script using native javascript functions? Everyone is so willing to learn how frameworks and bundled libraries work when it comes with so many example scripts you can copy and paste, but learning actual javascript and reading API reference docs? Way too much to handle. Programming is puzzle solving, frameworks and libraries are cheat codes. You should only use cheats when you have solved the puzzle already.


The average business user is way past standard HTML … They want word/excel in their browser … just ask them … "I want it to work just like word " … if I had a nickel for every time ive heard that crap from business users. Well guess what dude … This isn't word … its a HTML and there are tons of limitations and reasons why you cant have word in your browser.


As a beginner, I appreciate this post because I tried to develop my very first website following a Django tutorial. I managed to finish it but I realized I do not understand how the sqlite, the HTML files and the Python code actually worked.

I guess I need to focus more in the basics in order to understand how the frameworks actually work.