At my previous job, I was the lead frontend developer at a small startup. I was also the only frontend developer. As such, I could do basically whatever I wanted. I heard about Prettier through twitter and decided to try it. I immediately loved it and added it as a pre-commit hook. I stopped caring about formatting my code. I just typed it out, pressed save, and like magic, prettier would make it look good enough.
Eventually I left that job to try out a bigger team at a bigger company. I was hired on as a senior frontend developer–with two others already on the team. I immediately suggested adopting prettier to my coworkers and was met with a lot of resistance. The complaints:
- I just don't like the way it looks.
- It uses way too much vertical space.
I disagreed with both of those complaints, but wanting to be a good new coworker, I eventually lessened the pressure; only bringing it up in side comments ("Yeah, I really like how typescript hero takes care of the imports and sorting for me. That's one thing I really like about Prettier too–how it automates a lot of stuff I don't need to do manually").
As I became more familiar with the codebase I started creating more and more pull requests for the tasks in our JIRA board (don't get me started there). I was a little nervous to see how my code would be received–after all I had mostly worked as a solo frontend dev for the majority of my career. I was crestfallen to see that my first few PRs were filled with comments and "needs work" stamps. It made me feel really bad. Like, am I not a good programmer?
95% of the comments were about formatting issues. "We put an extra line here." "We prefer to put a comma here." "We do it this way." My first few pull requests, when I needed the most validation, were ripped to shreds because we didn't use Prettier.
As Dan Abramov tweeted,
We need something to obsess about. We learn mechanical rules and to feel good about following them. Much easier than fixing bugs! We impose them on new team members — here’s how WE do things, you forgot a SPACE here and SEMICOLON.
This is madness. Break the cycle. Use Prettier.
Gradually I learned their coding styles and the style comments lessened. Now, five months after I started, the team has agreed to use Prettier. It just kind of... happened. I brought it up in earnest this week and I think my coworkers were more open to it after I had been working with them for a while. The frontend team lead decided to do some investigation and in the end was willing to give it a try.
We spent much of the day arguing about the Prettier settings (initially they wanted 180 character columns!) but eventually came to a consensus. We all have Prettier in our respective editors with our
.prettierrc in the repo. I have a good feeling this'll be one of the last times we argue about code style.
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