As President Kennedy implored:
“My fellow developers, ask not what your Framework can do for you. Ask what you can do for your framework!”.
Yeah, I know, not quite the exact quote. But sometimes it feels that you have to do more to help your framework work than your framework does to help you.
Maybe it’s time to ask yourself, what is your Framework really doing for you … and do you still need it?
First of all, let me make clear that I have no inside knowledge and am not privy to any secrets - my views are based purely on using the platform, hanging out in Slack and watching the presentations.
It’s also maybe useful to describe where I “am” as a web developer. I used to use Angular 1 and then 2, never really cared much for React but was aware of it (and like Redux) but was totally sold on WebComponents and the benefits of any framework being built on the platform. When Angular 2 turned out to be a huge letdown and Polymer had turned 1.x it was time to change and I’ve been happy with the choice. I find it quicker to develop apps and I’m spending more time on app-development and much less on endless framework upgrades plus the end results start and run faster.
One of the mistakes I saw a lot of when Agile was taking off as “the hot-new thing” was people declaring that they didn’t need to do design anymore. Of course there was no big-upfront design - the kind from the waterfall days where people first analyzed and designed a system in full before punting it to the next team to build (which rarely worked out well) but some planning and design is important, even if you’re just creating a small hobby project.
Part of the process should often involve prototyping to help decide or prove which technologies you’re going to use as these will also factor in to the design of the app. It also gives you an opportunity to kick-the-tires of some technologies if they are things you haven’t used much before prior to building too many things around them. Making late-stage switches can be costly.
This isn’t going to be an exhaustive comparison of every possible client-side framework, storage technology or hosting option. Of course I have some technology choices in my head before I even begin based on my current skillset and experience (isn’t it an amazing coincidence that the “best” technology to build any app with is always the one the developer likes to use?!) But I’ll try to go through the reasoning behind some of the choices I came up with.
We’ve all seen and used them, we may even have written some ourselves. They seem such a great idea at the time and using them seems to make life easier. I’m talking about Framework Specific Components.
I want to talk about why WebComponents are much better and they should be the first think we look to use and create whenever possible.
While we’re used to systems nowadays being distributed and running across multiple services on multiple platforms when it comes to front-end web clients many people still have a rather “monolothic” outlook on things.
Many times this is down to technology imposing restrictions on us - it’s difficult enough to make some frameworks and all their component pieces work together to deliver an app without also throwing in the challenge of making multiple different frameworks coexist (part of the problem with the rise of “frameworks” instead of libraries).
It can be particularly problematic when an aging app needs to be upgraded. You may have an Angular.JS app and be faced with the choice of whether to re-write it as an Angular v2 / v4 app or switch to using the Redux / React stack instead.
Both represent a lot of work and the difficulty making frameworks coexist can be a real challenge with any attempts at doing things incrementally. This is where WebComponents can really help.
One of the great things about Polymer and Web-Components is they are part of the platform. What I mean by that is that once you define an element, you can add some HTML containing a reference to it however and wherever you like and the browser will render it.
innerHTML and even though it may contain elements defined in the app, they won’t appear.
To show how useful it is, imagine we want to implement a markdown editor with Ghost-like image uploading …
I saw this data from a Polymer product manager buried in a GitHub issue comment and thought it was worth highlighting to show just how amazing Polymer 2.0 is when it comes to framework-size. Many JS frameworks have made grand promises about the small size of their apps but it’s usually only after an inordinate amount of work and effort that you even get close to the promised values, if at all (my Angular 2 app was never anything buy huge).
Polymer is very different to many of the JS-first frameworks in that it builds on the web platform instead of trying to reproduce and replace so much it - because browsers are actually very good at parsing HTML and rendering it quickly if only you let them get on with it (yeah, who knew!).
Here are the individual + combined sized of the different Polymer versions together with the Polyfills required in each browser …
It’s the result of constant and seemingly endless changes, reinventions and releases of tooling and frameworks that you feel you need to keep up with.
But things are going to change …