Client side development now?


As they say, Serenity now? Insanity later?

A couple blogs which sum up the current state of front end development it would seem…

Tim’s software in 2014 and Chris’ what sucks about frontend development.

First Tim,

The client-side mess · Things are bad. You have to build everything three times: Web, iOS, Android. We’re talent-starved, this is egregious waste, and it’s really hurting us.

JavaScript is horrible.
> [5, 10, 1].sort();
[ 1, 10, 5 ]

Et cetera. Thus Coffeescript and Dart and other efforts to route around TheElephantInTheRoom.js.

The browser APIs suck too. Sufficiently so that jQuery (or equivalent) is regarded as the lowest level that any sane person would program to; in effect, the new Web assembler.

And from Chris

managing JavaScript dependencies still sucks, and Bower has fundamental flaws that limits it’s utility

table designs are bad, so why are we re-implementing them with non-semantic class names? We should use our CSS frameworks to have only abstract classes that we make concrete by extending them with semantic class names. Also, progressive enhancement isn’t dead and still has value.

…I only feel these issues because I’m comparing it directly to other parts of the software stack rather than considering the front-end in isolation, but front-end development still feels very immature and like the wild west, rather than the engineering discipline we’re striving to be. We need to make it better.

I will admit its been a while since I’ve done any front end development but to be fair I’m also wondering if developers are taking full advantage of whats available to them? For example in my twitter stream I saw someone link to a post about SVG and DOM manipulation for icons. And finally…

More or less everything is expected to talk HTTP, and it’s really easy to make things talk HTTP.
Its easy to under-estimate how great this is, specially as we move towards coding for the mobile, offline, internet of things and exotic screens/devices. REST won out and who was stupid enough to bet against this? Oh yes… where are they now? Dead! Good riddens SOAP and other craziness…

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.