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.

Summary:

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

 

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.

[deleted]

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 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.

 

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

BTW

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

 

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).

 

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.

 

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.

 

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...

 
 

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.

 
 

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.

 

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.

 

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!

 

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 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 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.

 

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.

 

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 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.

 

IMHO,

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?

 

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'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.

 

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 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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Thank you for the job well done, you need to do more articles like this, because in the modern world this information is especially relevant. I read today one equally high-quality post on another portal, writeabout.tech/programming/portab..., use it, I think it will come in handy.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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...

 

Most interesting. A lot of discussion about libraries vs frameworks, but there may be a third player; the DSL. Is a language - SQL, for example - a library or a framework? It neither calls your code nor is called by your code; it is your code.

 

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

 

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! ✌

 

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.

 

I agree somewhat with your article. Sometimes frameworks are a little bit of overkill, specially on Javascript where you can do many things with Vanilla javascript instead of jQuery I specially dislike frameworks when you get an error that you have no idea why it's happening and it ends up being a framework error.

That being said... Frameworks are pieces of software that have a very active development cicle, where many developers have tested and fixed bugs in all its iterations, which is why they are 10 times more secure than any pieces of software you write from scratch, specially for beginners.

For example: One of your requirements is to build a backend protected by a login on PHP with social login and user roles. You can use Codeigniter, Lavarel or your choice of framework and create a secure robust backend or write everything from scratch, taking twice as long and leaving it very insecure and prone to your errors.

 

This is why I immediately turned away from jQuery when I first started learning to code.

At the time everywhere I went to learn the approach offered was write this jQuery, it will take care of all the stuff for you. Ok cool, but what's the stuff?

It became clear that if you ever want to actually know anything about the code you are writing, you've got to walk in the gutter and learn the underlying language.

This doesn't mean you can never use a framework, but you defiantly should not start there. At least not in isolation.

 

I don't get all the hate, the author receives in the comments.
People bash almost every program language there is (JS, PHP, Java .. and so on), but all of the languages have their purpose and were (and will be) a great solution to a variety of problems. It is the same with frameworks.

Of course he does not mean the frameworks are all bad all of the time. It's only that, to become better yourself, is to learn how every bit works (even if that means to understand the path of the electron on the silicon board).

Of course he does not mean for you to experiment, at the expense of the active project, you have in your company. Most companies have a well tested and well documented code base already, if your team is comfortable with that, than by any means use that. Choosing the right tech is always a team effort, but the message I received from this article (and live by), is to always be curious.

 

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).

 

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.

 

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!

 
 

I don't disagree with your point of view, but I would disagree a little bit with the execution of your post.

From the beginning my blood began to boil, not because a WHY, but rather because of how it is written. Just as soon as I read your conclusion my view of your post shifted and I totally agree. That being said I would recommend another approach for this kind of posts.

It is truly sad that nowadays I meet a lot of pseudo-developers that just know how a framework works but they don't know what lies beneath the hood. It is stupifying how sometimes they gloat in the fact that they are masters of REST API's in Django but they cannot even grasp the concept of something like GraphQL. And they believe the learning curve is too steep because they need to learn another library like graphene just to understand. Sometimes this type of developers just waste a lot of resources because reading http requests, MDN, or even the underlying code of the framework seems too hard.

I fully agree: You shouldn't use a framework until at least you grasp what it does underneath.

But I totally disagree with trying to generate an emotion in the reader to have a greater impact.

 

Hey, I'm sorry I made your blood boil! It's far too hot for that. Maybe I was too hot when I wrote this post... but thanks for the response and feedback.

 

Thank you. An interesting take on the use of frameworks. This is quite a polar approach though. I think there is a place for frameworks because of TTM but you do need to take the time to understand how they and how the underlying technologies work.
Working this way has stopped me from programming by coincidence

 

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

I agree that learning the basics is good but you won’t win over hearts and minds with that reasoning. 🙂 I mean, that’s not a good way to talk to anyone.

 

I was (trying?) to be humorous. I've been told my sense of humour is a bit hit and miss - so maybe that was a miss. Oh well... guess I'm just adding to the number of angry people on the internet. Sorry about that.

 

Everyone’s humor is hit or miss, it can be a great tool. And probably many people get it as humor. No worries. 👍 Thanks for the reply. 🙂

 

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.

 

While I don't completely agree, I think your thesis does have some merit.

I think using a framework/library (like React, or Express, or Flask, or SQLAlchemy, or Rails, or Spring etc.) isn't inherently a bad thing. In some cases it speeds up development a lot without really having any major down sides. If the cost is something like a performance penalty down the line, as the application begins to really scale, I'd say that falls into the "good problem to have" category.

However, it's true that the current ecosystem is just rife with frameworks, libraries, addons, plugins, extensions, and so on. It's very easy to reach for one after the other. Below are some ad-hoc guidelines I've built up for myself over time:

  • I've run into situations where I try an extension or plugin, and discover that to use it, I have to install at least one more extension! When that happens, I generally will remove the initial extension if at all possible.

  • Another scenario that happened to me recently: I tried using an extension and found a bug in it. When I searched online to figure out what was going on, I discovered that the proposed solution was to go back to an earlier version of the code. Furthermore, the project appeared to be completely inactive for several years with the owner not responding to any issues. Of course I removed this dependency from my project.

  • Boilerplate is one more thing that I think one should watch out for. Redux has some interesting properties, and it looks pretty good on paper. But When I tried using it in my project, I discovered that I really had to create a lot of confusing boilerplate to do simple things. For now I've removed Redux in favour of the new React Context API. It's not perfect either, but it did simplify my project a lot.

More generally, as one adds more dependencies to a project, all of the above scenarios become potential problems later on, even if they might not be a problem right now. So I think developers and teams should indeed be very cautious about just throwing more and more dependencies into a project.

The first questions should be "Can we make our own simple implementation that will do the job for the time being? Can we do it without taking too long to develop it? Can we do it without creating a lot of complex logic in our codebase?" If the answer is "yes," then don't use the 3rd party code. If the answer is "no," then it's more likely worth considering that external dependency.

 

I got the idea. When I started in web development was from zero and using windows notepad. Learned the basics and much more, I build what I want and exactly what I want.

My friends started with dreamweaver using the design tool without coding and everything was a mess.

In every project I reinvented the wheel in many forms and making mini-frameworks. using frameworks I learned a lot more complex things, also frameworks doesn't helps, you have to do the work anyway.

Where I work they do a test in the interview, a simple small crud, I was like "that's all?" But a friend only uses frameworks, she didn't know how to make a db connection, a crud or pagination, but she is an expert in many frameworks and she work really well and fast.

So It's important to know the basics and then learn a framework. I love to code from scratch and love frameworks too.

 

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

Let's talk about this, as I may have lost most of you with that opening. Why do people like you like frameworks? Are you weak or are you stupid? Or both?

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It is very easy to throw mud, to speak like that when you are in powerful position, already have a good job, know some CS and studied for years web dev.

First you need to understand from where they come, what difficulties they have, maybe some of them are starving, are in war zones, some of them are just lazy, most of them are just uninformed.

Let's speak about the root of the problem bootcamps and courses.
Instead of blaming the students we could do better, let's start making free or paid courses and online workshops, better than the bootcamps.

Let's teach vanilla and then frameworks, let's take them trough the entire process of developing a framework. You will soon realize that you cannot do that in 4h/week, in a few months, so you need to cut things out. Put yourself in the teaching position.

Let's make solutions, just saying.

PS: you also have to change how companies hire, they do not care if you know vanilla or frameworks, what is sequential allocation or a pointer, they hire engineers to solve their problems. What is the fastest way to learn how to solve problems? By learning frameworks. So again, let's find a solution for this problem before you throw big words.

 

It is very easy to throw mud, to speak like that when you are in powerful position, already have a good job, know some CS and studied for years web dev.

Well yes, it takes years to be good at it.

First you need to understand from where they come, what difficulties they have, maybe some of them are starving, are in war zones, some of them are just lazy, most of them are just uninformed.

Yes, some of them have good reasons of doing it wrong. This doesn't mean we should sugar coat it. They have to be aware, even though they can't change it now. But they will have the option of fixing this later, and they need to know that it's an actual problem. And there's a crazy number of devs that don't see an issue with this "framework-first" approach, that's who he was aiming for.

He's not blaming students. He's blaming the approach, wherever it comes from. The students shouldn't feel called out, they're, at best, the victims here. But they need to hear this.

Let's teach vanilla and then frameworks, let's take them trough the entire process of developing a framework. You will soon realize that you cannot do that in 4h/week,

Yes, getting good at programming takes a year of 8h per day. Yes, you can cut corners and start making something sooner. But you have to be made aware that yes, you took a shortcut, and you should come back to vanilla as soon as you can to fix this.

PS: you also have to change how companies hire, they do not care if you know vanilla or frameworks, what is sequential allocation or a pointer, they hire engineers to solve their problems. What is the fastest way to learn how to solve problems? By learning frameworks

That would be great, if learning the frameworks solves the problems. Devs without vanilla knowledge (like basic OOP for example) that go straight for the framework cause more problems in the code they work with than they solve. Companies have hiring requirements, yes, but young devs don't need to aim straight for big companies. Start smaller, freelance sites, projects for friends and family. They can get better before applying for tougher jobs. Unless the company is hiring for an intern/entry level, they should get some experience first anyway. But yeah, that's a separate problem onto itself.

I do agree with the gist of what you wrote, the students are not to blame. The post writer wrote some things for effect, but nobody should feel called out for it, he's just speaking the truth in a colourful way. Students, as you call them, have the resources needed available online(for the most part) and they should take the time to learn, and it takes time to get good at anything.

 

I'm blaming the same things, so we are all good, I just want him to reconsider his hate approach and move into a more constructive one.

I'm speaking with junior web devs daily, I have studied the same problem in the last 2 years or so, I've seen the gaps they have, I'm not surprise if questions like "how to sum 2 numbers with react" exists on stackoverflow :(.

have the resources needed available online(for the most part) and they should take the time to learn, and it takes time to get good at anything.

As a fresh mentor, I quickly realized that my "main duty" is to filter the resources. I think the today student problem is not the lack of good material, is the abundance of the lower quality material, and when you are studying you don't know the difference, you learn the "highest rated" personality or course.

After a few months of production, the "damage" is done, you cannot say "you learned the wrong way" because the answer is "but how? I can build websites, I solve problems". The best way to "fix the gaps" I have found is to get into the trenches, when they are stuck and explain them how and why they got it wrong.

Instead of "learn Big O and optimization techniques" we can say:
"Your view component is slow because: you see these 4 nested fors? ok, let's draw them on the table and calculate how many times these operations are computed. Now how can we improve them? ...."

Another good way is by example, I found that just by sharing my screen, they learn a lot, like how to use their tools (IDE, dev tools), how to approach a problem and so on.

Good on ya for fixing this from within the trenches! I try to do the same, I have a basics course in PHP set up (in my native language) and we start from the nitty gritty.

People struggle with looping through arrays in their first months, so no wonder they can't really grasp what a framework does. But they definitely need to be brought back to basics.

I've hired juniors, and I had better luck with those that knew "just" html/css/js/php, than with those that "knew" "Laravel/jQuery/Bootstrap", because with the former we had a base to work off of. With the latter they weren't able to navigate simple OOP relationships, let alone debug the first Exception their favorite framework throws up.

The industry is a bad place. We need thousands of develpers today, so we try to rush people through this. But that doesn't work. What you describe is the way to go. But I do agree with the original post as well. And I think it's more about the ones with about a years worth of experience that need to hear those harsh words, just so they're not complacent.

 

let's take them trough the entire process of developing a framework.

I think one of David's points is you don't need a framework and that's half the problem with this industry.

People immediately dive into a problem by picking a framework and you see it all the time with devs on various forums asking "what framework should I use".

 

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.

 

@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!

 

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!

 

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).

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Bollocks.

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.”

 

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.

 

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.

 

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!

github.com/devguykyle/LessFramewor...

 

I partially disagree with you. To know the basics and the lower level layers is very important, that makes you understand how the framework is doing X or Y. But when we're talking about product development, not software, that involves business value. And business value cares about result, and a framework can help you with that.

By finding the right tool, you can solve a specific problem. The problem is to find the right one.

 

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.

 

Your development workflow depends on the project. If you have lots of time and resource, build from scratch. Less time, use a framework. I feel there's an additional layer to this with low code platforms and web app builders such as Budibase or even no code platforms such as Bubble.

 

Very interesting read, developers need to look at the claims made by Framework promoters. Take React — the constant claim made is that the DOM is slow therefore we need a virtual DOM to speed things up.

However, independent tests conducted by Paul Lewis showed that rendering time was up to 10 times slower in React than in JS. JS also got faster under heavy element load, React got slower ... very slow. Netflix recently dumped React from their frontend and saw a significant increase in speed ... How could having a separate virtual DOM to render and compare to the DOM be faster than merely just changing the DOM ... nonsense.

The other claim made is — we need React to keep data in sync with the DOM ... what? Who has ever had this problem, I haven't! Furthermore because React batches changes, guess what, user data is often not truly in sync.

Lastly there is the claim that development is quicker with frameworks ... is it?Speed of development must be offset against cost, cost in terms of learning these frameworks, the difficulty in debugging them, the time spent trying to override restrictions, and lastly, the cost to the business from their slow loading times and poor performance. Research conducted by Amazon a while back found that just 100ms latency cost 1% in sales. In tests by Paul Lewis, React/Ember/Angular etc ran at 500 - 2000ms latency for initial rendering for a very simple page compared to 50ms for JS.

Would Amazon use React?

Frameworks appear to me to be pyramid selling schemes. False claims made, purported problems that don't exist, solutions offered that actually cause more problems, get everyone locked in, technical debt escalates, we have no choice but to use the framework and the purported solution becomes the only problem.

GitHub spent over 5 years removing JQuery because of technical debt issues, React/Ember/Angular/Vue would have been virtually impossible to remove. Use a framework if you want, but know the costs, nothing is free!

 

So for ExamPro I don't use javascript frameworks at all just plain javascript. Though now considering puting angular in some parts for richer functionality but I know why I am putting it in there.

My own concern is juniors reading this and thinking you don't need frameworks. When I'm talking to bootcamp grads and juniors I urge them to use frameworks and learn complete ones such as Rails, Angular so they can see all the pieces involved instead of inventing their own bizarre code.

Also, Mislav to be the one removing jquery sounds right. I remember at a conference he just started editing my javascript code removing all the semicolons claiming it was cleaner.

 

React is pretty neat. Just gives you access to a declarative programming model which can be functional. Meaning easier to reuse and understand. It's like, hey, I need a bike. So I made some wheels, metal, and a bike. Now I needed to make a car. So I reused the wheels and made a car. See? Pretty simple if you ask me.

 

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!

 

I get the part of learning basics, which is the most clever thing to do, but frameworks help in getting work organized and following coding standards, in a manner that everything is beautiful and manteinable

 

I believe the main reason, why we use frameworks - is saving of development time. How you can sell to stakeholders the fact, that your team will spend more time, because you decided to do everything from scratch without frameworks?

 

Using frameworks/library is not as bad as this article describes it. I remember when I first started to learn Javascript, I never understood why they use document.selectElementById or selectElementByClassName or QuerySelectorAll or QuerySelector instead of just using $(".element"). jQuery made it easier for me to reason about why I loved Javascript. I was able to deliver something very quickly (that gave my client confidence to rely on me, plus made me feel more comfortable with javascript). If you start developing in a core language at first, you'll suffocate because of the complexity it hold for you as an inexperienced developer).

You willbecome a better developer if you dig deeper into the concept of a framework.

React now a days is doing a very good job in teaching you the core concepts of Javascript.

You will become a good developer when you start learning about the frameworks.

The better advice I would give to a newbie is:

Deliver your job with a framework/library but don't stop learning the core concepts of the language itself. Explore the things how they work under the hood. Read code of these libraries and frameworks. There are gems to explore in these libraries/frameworks.
 

What's going on that really sucks is all companies seem to have some stupid notion that if you do not have the latest framework on your resume you couldn't possibly know front end coding and be top notch at it. I've been coding for over 30 years with the last 10 spent using the design patterns that provide for very modular object oriented Javascript, so I consider myself an expert at creating readable reusable code using only vanilla Javascript, CSS, and HTML, yet I'm finding it nearly impossible to find work since I am not a React or Angular framework guru. In fact looks like I'm usually being screened out for this deficit of knowledge with these frameworks. It is a sad day when low level knowledge is perceived inadequate compared to having framework knowledge. I've spent time looking at how you code with these frameworks and it makes me nauscious...seems they prefer to extend HTML over writing clean modular Javascript that can dynamically render out HTML for custom user interfaces.

 

You can ask yourself - will a company hire a "Vue.js/AngularJS/ReactJS Developer" or "JavaScript Developer". One assumes you've mastered the basics and the other entails you already gone pass that and moved onto more things.

 

Although the author appears to be a raving lunatic, he does make at least one good point. Developers in the Novice and Advanced Beginner stages, referring to the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition, should focus on learning the foundational technologies like JavaScript and SQL instead of trying to learn a framework.

Despite being hard to read, what with the pompous tone and many, many Star Wars metaphors, the message is true enough. If you only learn a framework then you really don't know anything besides a very narrow set of specific use cases across several technologies. It doesn't behoove a novice to learn a JS framework. Instead, they should focus on mastering JavaScript, specifically es2015 and beyond. In the long run, learning how to interact with the DOM, add and remove event listeners, work within the event loop with promises or async/await, are all of greater benefit. Once you understand how the underlying technologies work then you can decide if you want to use a framework and which framework may be applicable to your use case. However, to say that, "ALL frameworks are terrible" is simply ignorant.

What is a framework anyway? Well, if you create websites or web apps you'll often find that you have a certain set of requirements that continue to come up again and again. There are certain components that can be shared across different projects, for example, a navigation bar or pagination list. Having a set of well designed pre-existing components can not only save you a lot of time but greatly improve the user experience.

Should you use a framework? Well, like the answer to many of life's questions, it depends. Each use case is different and I would caution anybody to do their due diligence before making any commitments.

 

David, you seem to be one of too few who really understand the KISS principle, and I salute you for it. You make several valid points in your article, and quite a few more topics pop up in the huge discussion that follows it, so because I haven't been through the whole lot I may be repeating someone - apologies if so.

I don't use frameworks. Never have done. Admittedly, I don't work in a software factory - I tried it a couple of times and it's not for me. What I do best is self-contained front-end projects, and most of these recently have been web apps that are 100% browser based with a small REST server to handle the outside world.

The coding language I use has no need for frameworks - in fact it's an alien concept - but it manages to cope well with anything I throw at it. What's that language? English.

There are few user interfaces or business rules that can't be described clearly in English. If you can't describe a UI in English it's probably too complex for anyone to use. It'll also be too complex to maintain economically, so for me the key starting point is a good understanding of the requirements, expressed in my mother tongue. The other advantage of English is you can speak it out loud with a good chance your listeners will understand. Just try that with JavaScript.

When we encounter a new, strange concept in English we invent a new vocabulary for it. Words like laser or smartphone are instantly understandable. I suppose it's kinda like having library functions except it's seamless.

OK, so if English expresses the problem perfectly why don't we code in English? The answer is partly because the industry is hooked on complexity and isn't looking for simple solutions. If the effort currently going into designing new frameworks were applied to creating variants of English that can express the essence of any website then compile and run it - preferably all in the browser - we'd see a lot more productivity. You commented somewhere that relying on the most talented of coders is not a good thing, and I completely agree. We should be broadening the base of coders, not narrowing it. There's a world shortage of programmers, folks, so why do we go on making it harder and harder to become one?

Soon after Apple launched the Macintosh they also created HyperCard and its English-like HyperTalk programming language. Suddenly, anyone could program a Mac, so we did, and created some amazing stuff. Sadly, since then the whole idea of inclusivity seems to have fallen out of favor but for some of us those times left an indelible impression, one that runs completely counter to the idea that things are only good if they're complicated.

JavaScript is blazingly fast; so much so that it's now a viable system language with which to write higher-level, domain-specific languages that remove the need for most of the bloat we currently have to endure. I've done it for my own needs without being a professional compiler writer, and there are people out there far cleverer than I am. So instead of churning out variations on a tired theme, can we not move on, to a new level where software is really language and language is software?

The problem is not one of structure; it's one of language, which successfully underpins our entire society. It's about time computers were taught to speak OUR language rather than forcing us to train as machines, as we do now.

And that's my strong opinion.

 

Disagreed, we need frameworks to evolve and make better bikes. And yes some frameworks only exists because the current language in the marker can't cope with the requirements of today business.

But, yes, I can agree that frameworks bring an extra layer of unnecessary functionality, but if you really understand what you are doing, you can use a framework and native code to get the most of it.

If I have the budget of GitHub, I'll probably go native, but in the real world we need some layer of compromise and allow frameworks to help us build solutions; good solutions.

I do use different frameworks at the enterprise level, and they do bring stability, philosophy, methodology and level of continuity in the code base.

I'm a big fan of few frameworks, and I'll rely on them until they prove to be obsolete rather than expending my coding career trying to build a bike from scratch when I can bring a proving bike model into a new level of form...

 

Just build everything in C, but remember to build your own compiler!

Everyone should know ES6 before they use frameworks and know how to build a webpage without a framework. I used to think like you about this.

Then I realized that predominantly writing JS instead of HTML made me a better developer away from the front end and stopped me from questioning my life as pointless.

I know how it all works from assembly and binary to the headers on http requests, how packets work, sockets and machine learning and frameworks like React will keep a person that likes programming more than document making less likely to contemplate drinking themselves to death...

I'm overreacting (pun intended) a bit, but it is the way things will go, and frameworks are only evil if that is all you know or care to know.

 

this wheel doesn't come with a whole bunch of crap you'll never use

Have you heard about dead-code elimination? Tree shaking, which does it, is a standard and is enabled by default in major bundlers like webpack. You'll never include code you never use.

Also, I disagree that you can easily get by with just the standards. Unless you include big polyfills, you will have problems with browser support, hence, you betray your users. If you include polyfills, what's the difference between including a polyfill and a framework? Often they are comparable in size and performance impact on your users. For example, what's the difference between including Custom Elements polyfill and React?

Another great benefit of using a framework is that it helps you have a proper architecture, which is a point you completely missed in the article.

 

I agree. I've moved away from Bootstrap/etc to just things like Tailwind CSS. It's still a framework, but it's not anything predefined, it allows me to build my own UI style for my website. Although I still use Flask-like things (like Quart) for backend. (Because I'm not gonna write my own HTTP library with server.)

 

This is really dumb.

I see a lot of “Motte & Bailey” arguments in the comments by the author about how all he was trying to say is [more defensable version of what was writtin in the OP].

Frameworks are obviously extremely benificial given that essentially all firms and independent contractors use them. Start your own non-framework-using company and undercut 99% of the market otherwise.

Secondly, “learning the fundamentals” is only good to a degree and only to a certain class of people. You don't need to know the fundemental of electromagnetism, how a CPU works, or how to write a compiler, to be a good programmer. Likewise, most web developers would be better of spending their time learning other thinngs than how to parse HTTP requests or write advanced SQL queries.

It's called the division of labour. A few people can know the ins and outs of web fundamentals, this freeing up others to specialize elsewhere.

 

I'm not really sure I ever suggested we go back to banging the rocks together to make a website.

Frameworks are obviously extremely benificial given that essentially all firms and independent contractors use them.

Maybe, as you've heard of Motte & Bailey, you're aware of the naturalistic fallacy? It was put rather nicely in this history of Lisp at the NASA JPL, which is worth a read anyway. I'll quote the bit I like at the end - my emphasis.

The problem with this argument is twofold: first, we're confusing best practice with standard practice. The two are not the same. And second, we're assuming that best (or even standard) practice is an invariant with respect to the task.

I hope I'm clear; I think standard practice in web development is not best practice.

web developers would be better of spending their time learning other thinngs than how to parse HTTP requests

Like what? Seriously. What could be more important to a developer who writes software for the internet than understanding how to parse an HTTP request. Not writing a parser for one, but being able to read them when, say, they appear in the dev tools popup for the browser of your choice. What could be more important than the glue that holds the wonderful world of the web together?

 

It's ridiculous how some (or many) of these xxJS frameworks advertise themselves something like "get your SPA up and running in just 5 minutes". Umm sure I guess, but if that means for an actual web app I need to fill a 200 lines config file then I'm out.

 

Can you point me to some GitHub repo which implements things this way??

I believe that framework lead you to violate your own separation rules and make you mess with dependencies, resulting in a high coupled code, hard to change.

But solution could be programming the logic outside of the framework and then make the framework use your logic.
Instead of getting rid of the framework which takes care about low level details that you don’t want to deal with on daily basis.
Such as security caching asset serving routing

 
 

Completely agree.
I love development. So when I started with PHP (my first language was C++), I was really enjoying, and yes, of course I started with fundamentals. I still remember, how I tried to build perfect login system all the time, but then, all of them (around me) started to talk and use frameworks or CMSes. I didn't want too, but I started to build my own. That way, I learned how other frameworks are built, distinguishing good from bad, and more important, it's much easier to start using another framework, new one, if requested from clients.
Nowadays I use Laravel a lot, also because of clients' preferences, but I still like to do things by myself, like having standalone database layer, for different databases, or classes (PDO, MySQli, MongoDb,..) and it's kind of useful specially when I start to develop prototypes for my own projects. I like to use Vue, but as standalone framework, with webpack, so I'm less limited in case I'd like to switch backend from Laravel to ExpressJS or any other framework/language. I did similar with AngularJS, etc.
Also, there is a lot of plugins out there and many time I find a plugin, which had to be costumized so much, that is senseless to use it, so I write my own.
Fundamentals are the key.

 

There are pros and cons in using frameworks and they do seem to make your life easier. However, learning the core of everything; although requires a little time, helps in knowing what's going on.

In terms of web, I do believe in 3-4 years frameworks might not be needed. All that abstraction will go away as HTML and JS standardize and add more features and abstract the complexities for a developer. There will be a time when SPAs will be built using only standard HTML, CSS and JS. You won't need to manipulate the DOM using jQuery, you won't need a framework to manage page history, you won't need redux to manage a store, you won't need a rxjs to manage real time communication with the client, you won't need react to bind objects with your HTML elements. That's when this article will seem more valid.

 

I was thinking... what about some other alternative which is tight to classic HTML/JavaScript/CSS?
Mainstream frameworks are often obsessed with strongly typed and OOP and make heavy use of build tools and transpilers that are really too much for most beginners.
They were conceived in a time were js/html was still too limiting, but today these solution are just messed up and their patterns anachronistic when forcing a developer to use a load of tools that are not necessary anymore, not in most of beginner scenarios at least.

 

I just read this article and in particular I noticed that you would diminish Spring.................. Holy crap I don't want to see your interpretation of that or work with whatever sorcery of half-baked thing you're doing. Some frameworks are there for very, very good reasons.

 
 

Not everyone who uses frameworks is completely clueless about what they are doing. Yes, if you are a beginner who doesn't know the basics you should not use a framework. But if you already know the basics and how things work, and the wheel doesn't come with a bunch of craps that you don't need, frameworks mean efficiency. You don't need to work hard if you work smart.

You are not justified for calling everyone who uses a framework weak and stupid. After all, we don't know whether they already know the basics or not, nor do we know if they are forced to use it for their job, nor do we know if they didn't have the fortune to be informed that understanding the fundamental is more important.

We should encourage others to learn how to write in vanilla HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, but everyone has their way, whether they are better or worse. I agree that vanilla HTML, CSS, and JavaScript is a better option, but that's only because I know how to use them. If other people only know how to use a framework, but can get their work done, let them be. We should only encourage them to try the better method, but they are definitely not stupid or weak just because they know less about one method than how much we do.

(I made an account just to post this)

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?!

I use syntax highlighting but I loathe code completion (just let me type!) I don't know, but I don't fathom how anyone can tolerate code completion as it's so visually annoying. I use Textmate and get a lot of flack from VScode users, but then I can run circles around them with vi because they can't actually remember anything they need to write.

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.

I had a hard time with syntax highlighting initially as well (distracting) but at least I could find a least annoying option I could get used to. It might be an autism thing, and given coders have a higher prevalence of autism than the general population, this could be why some developers avoid these unnecessary bells and whistles. It's not efficient when your flow is broken by a clippy-level distraction.

 

I 100% agree with this. I was working with a startup and we had built our interfaces without a framework. New guy comes in and says we need to use frameworks "because they reduce lines of code". The only problem was not a single framework we could find would do what we had already implemented.

 

I know the article is kind of old but I just saw it. I believe the man purpose of a Frame Work to create a disciple dev environment. Also, it makes hiring developers easier. Therefore, I believe the back-end must have a know FW however for FE you can write your own FW and release it to public domain to get feedback. Creating a FW in a vacuum is very bad idea. It will corner you.

 

The frameworks have become like politics, if you want to keep a friend it is better not to discuss these ..

An example is to see the comments of this post and others like those of Vue vs React.

This is insane.

 

Frameworks are good because of many many reasons, just to name a few:

  • cover your back on security side
  • enforce good patterns (if team is not highly organsied)
  • makes devs search and on-boarding much easier
  • etc. It looks to me that by stating "no frameworks at all" - you've covered only one side of the story )
 

I don't like the sand of my ignorance. It's course and rough and irritating, and it gets everywhere.

Memes aside, I agree with what you're writing (although maybe taking it a bit too far). You shouldn't ditch frameworks altogether, but choose the right one for the job — which might be none at all, something small you put together yourself, or BigAssFrameworkV2 if it fits. I'm a bit allergic to people who start with a framework and then go "now what do I need?"

 

To be honest, this is fairly hyperbolic. Sure, the framework comes with car parts on top of bike parts; however, the mere presence of stuff you don't need is not reason enough to avoid said framework. If all you need is one TINY piece, then sure, ditch the framework. The places I would agree with you more is when facing power, space, or bandwidth constraints. Then the framework is setting the floor for your application/ website/ whatever.

 

I agree with you, ditch frameworks for the web. At the same time, dev teams kind of build dedicated frameworks for the scope of the projects. Also jQuery is not a framework, readers may get the wrong idea of what a framework is, the GitHub removing jQuery example induces the idea o not using external libraries, witch I disagree. I do not think frameworks are "limiting your creativity", people should realize that when working with a framework you basically write your app inside another app. Your code gets invoked by the framework, you must obey the structure and logic provided by the framework and the features it is offering, with libraries, you call them to simplify your life by using code already available.

 

As a beginner I'm confused about this whole discussion.

What's wrong with:

I load a framework some libraries .... write bugs on top of them, after that I rearrange the code so that it looks like a cool product.

I mean, I learn the underlying stuff from debugging my shitty code and at the same time get things going by using tools that some (for me) experts made.

 

I totally dig the idea that the author and some people in the comment section simply know best.

The bike analogy makes it clear: If i want to have a CD player on the bike I am building, I‘ll add one. If there are already tools available helping me achieving my goal, I’ll be glad to use them.

 

I agree with the basic premise - that people jump to frameworks to accelerate their productivity as a crutch, rather than taking the time to learn the basics. And I believe its effective - hence the popularity. But it's a double-edged sword. If that framework goes out of fashion - many of the things you knew how to do evaporate with that frameworks popularity.

So yea, don't ankle bracelet your effectiveness as a web developer to any one tool or library.

BUT, there is one big problem with this viewpoint. The job market. What do you tell a web developer trying to find work who is only seeing postings for "React Developer" or "Angular Specialist". I think the economy and start-up execs are making these decisions, not the average joe developer. So what does the average joe developer do in a world where they need to get a job, but > 50% of companies want experience with a framework? I think most people simply accept, "if you can't beat em, join em." We all need to eat. What do you recommend?

 

Should be: "why you shouldn't use a framework until you know how to use the vanilla of what you are frameworking(tm)."

Haha.. great post! As a newbie my first 7 months have been going crazy over how many things there are to learn.. but now I have a clear path of what I need to learn AND actually make things in between learning them! (especially with vanilla). I almost even quit! But now my plan is set in stone and I will not deviate for other sexy languages or frameworks until it is mastered! haha

I see too many self thought devs jump to a FW without knowing why they even need said FM and also so many learn Mongo bc I guess it is easier to teach so most courses are MERN or MEAN... why not SERN or SEAN?

So..
Frameworks BAD, yes. Frameworks GOOD, also yes :D

Peace

 

If the dev.to publisher chose the title for this post, then OK; but if you chose it, then shame on you --- it's nothing but clickbait, and sadly, I fell for it.

I've been developing web applications since the beginning, and my experience is that, for anything but a trivial project, a good framework allows you to concentrate on the important problems, because they handle most of the common issues in a simple-to-understand way. I say this having just completed a pair of projects: a (mistaken) requirement for the larger one was no framework allowed; for the smaller one, we chose to learn and use Vue. Guess which has cleaner, more maintainable code?

Yes, of course yes, learn and understand Javascript, HTML, DOM methods and philosophy, and CSS. But don't be afraid to learn how to use other tools to make it easier for those who follow you.

Or should we all still launder our hand-sewn clothes with a washboard and a rock, down at the river bank?

 

The thing I get from this article is this: Wanna use a framework? Sure go ahead, BUT make sure you understand the basics of how the web works so you can understand how this framework is really helping you. I recently got interested in web and from an Android developer perspective (native Java and Kotlin) it looks like madness to me. So many Tools so many plugins, so many frameworks, and tbh from an outside perspective, it looks pretty scary. Although I'd say with some time and some deep digging it all makes sense eventually. Yes knowing the building blocks of web dev is important, it helps you understand a bit more what your tools are doing and why some things might work or might not. BUT saying that all frameworks are horrible to me is a bit of a stretch. All those frameworks do at the root is trying to make development faster and as somebody who had to prototype a web app for my job, I'd say VueJS was easy enough and helped a lot. Do I know everything about HTML and JS or CSS ? No. Did I get my product up and running in no time ? Yes. Did I learn a lot in the process? Heck Yeah 🔥. All that to just say that use any framework you want, as long as you either learn something using it or know how it's really helping you.

 

I do use web frameworks.

But the web framework I choose to use is just an implementation detail of the web plug-in.

It's still my code which drives the entire application, the web framework (or any other library or framework for that matter) is just sitting in the back seat.

Or in the trunk :-)

 

This is so purist but I totally agree! In fact, I have been building websites without a framework (no CSS framework & vanilla javascript only) for 2 years so that I feel lacking the in-depth knowledge in React & Redux because every job description is asking for those now. 😂😂😂

 

Totally agree. I'd even take it one step further and say that we should be writing web applications in C. All you have to do is read RFC 2616 (tools.ietf.org/html/rfc2616) to get a good idea how to start writing an HTTP server. But it's important that people know how HTTP works and writing the server yourself is the best way. This isn't re-inventing the wheel. This is having an actual understanding of the protocol driving your application. Not to mention a lot of people fail to implement their own relational databases and simply rely on the likes of PostgreSQL, MySQL or worse, a no-SQL solution.

 

I agree to an extent. But von neumann architecture computers, the internet, an os, a browser and all the things it implements (http, css, DOM) are "frameworks" too: collections of technology that implement things in a way someone thought they should work. Heck, society is a framework for how life is supposed to work.

Up to which point do we want to resist the frameworks?

 

Brilliant post! I never wanted to admit it, but I can't stand frameworks. I guess I didn't want to face that fact because I've wasted so much of my life learning them and convincing others that I knew what I was doing.

I'm keen to reboot and go back to the fundamentals. I really like modern JavaScript, but I certainly don't feel the need to have 20k+ Node modules sitting in a folder before I've added a single line of my own code.

Eject Webpack, don't eject Webpack, JSX, dependency conflicts, broken libraries, Git security warnings, IDE plugin squigglies...to hell with it all I say (as well).

Rebooting certainly won't be easy, but at least the rehashed knowledge will stay with me and I won't feel like a fork getting lost in a plate of spaghetti.

 

like a fork getting lost in a plate of spaghetti

Well that's the right emotion!

I really like modern JavaScript

Me too! The browser is almost a joy to work with when you use a modern API.

I guess I didn't want to face that fact because I've wasted so much of my life learning them and convincing others that I knew what I was doing.

Frameworks as Multi-level Marketing... well, now that's a thought...

Good luck!

 

Woow I was thinking about it all my life, I hate when someone ask me 'and you don't use jQuery?' why like develop in JavaScript and don't use JQuery...this people thinks that they knows a lot because jQuery do work for them, if you use jQuery but don't know develop in JavaScript you are not developer, you are a user of libraries...I hate jQuery and such libraries...sorry for my bad english