May 10th, 2017

Keeping Up With Trends

What’s the best way to keep up with modern web development trends? We have a proven strategy.

It seems the only thing more popular than creating new JavaScript frameworks these days…is joking about creating new JavaScript frameworks.

Given the rate that new frameworks, SCSS libraries, build tools, and even programming languages are being released, how will we know if if they’re worth spending time learning or evaluating? The thought alone can be overwhelming and anxiety inducing. It feels like we simply can’t keep up anymore. It may even feel like you’re in last place in a race, and everyone else is already celebrating. And one can only assume it’s only going to get worse.

All I can do is tell you how I handle this phenomenon, especially in terms of building and growing Statamic, and perhaps you’ll find value the approach and try it yourself.

Ignore them all. All of them. All of it. Everything. Every single new library and framework that comes out, just pretend it doesn’t exist. Go as far as setting Twitter mute filters to avoid them. Give them space to breathe. Let things settle. Let an early adopter community form around then before you give them any of your precious time. Many of these projects are rehashes of other similar projects, internal tools being released to promote a company and attract developers, or devs trying to get their name on the map. We can’t fault them for that. We’re all trying to get noticed.

But here’s the practical side. If what you’re using now is working well for you, why would you change it? Let the time you spent learning your current stack pay you back with a return before you start over again in another arena. Given the choice between 10 years of experience in one thing, or 1 year of experience in 10 things, which do you think will make you a more efficient, profitable developer, designer, or entrepreneur?

Whole-Ass One Thing

I’m not saying ignore it forever. Just let it become a standard solution. Let people write blog posts, work through the scaling issues, try it in production, and build a company around it. Let those other people do their time in the trenches, and then when the time is right, simply walk into the established community.

I didn’t spend one minute learning about Flexbox until it became a cross-browser standard, at which point I learned everything I needed to know in an afternoon, and now it’s a permanent part of my front-end toolkit.

Still using Bootstrap? Don’t be ashamed, just get the work done. Grunt? It still works. Don’t let someone guilt you into learning Gulp or Webpack if you don’t need to change it. Keep doing what you’re doing. (But if you do, check out Laravel Mix, it’s a much simpler wrapper around webpack)

jQuery? Hold up. It probably time to peek your head out and take a look around. jQuery has been a vital part of the web’s growth, but much of its capability have been normalized into browsers. Check out http://youmightnotneedjquery.com, you may find that what you’re using it for has a simple vanilla JavaScript replacement. Other frameworks like Vue.js have come along with amazing solutions to jQuery’s weaknesses. If you’re not taking advantage of two-way data binding, you’re really making your life harder than it needs to be.

So there you have it. Ignore everything as long as you can and ask friends if you’re missing out. Spend your free time with your family and go hiking or play frisbee on the beach. You’re welcome.

Oh, and there is at least one exception to this strategy. If you make a living teaching people, screencasting, and blogging about the latest frameworks and libraries, you’re on your own. You do need to keep up, and I wish you the best. I don’t envy you.