A person seeking help in a time of crisis does not care about TypeScript, tree shaking, hot module replacement, A/B tests, burndown charts, NPS, OKRs, KPIs, or other startup jargon. Developer experience does not count for shit if the person using the thing they built can’t actually get what they need.
Imagine the web is a storefront, React is a hot dog car, and here’s Create React App dressed as a hot dog:
HTML is the cornerstone of the web — so why does creating a “React app” produce an empty HTML file? Why are we not taking advantage of the most basic feature of the web—the ability to see content quickly before all the interactive code loads? Why do we wait to start loading the data until after all the client-side code has finished loading?
So much ink spilled supposedly explaining what “the web platform” is …when the truth is you can just swap in the “the web” every time that phrase is used here or anywhere else.
Anyway, the gist of this piece is: the web is good, actually.
I feel like we need a name for this era, when CSS started getting real good.
I think this is what I’ve been calling declarative design.
The positively steampunk piece of hardware used for tracking Alexei Leonov’s Apollo-Soyuz mission.
Talking primarily to engineering leaders, but also CEOs, VCs, ICs, and other practitioners, the most common response to the question of “has something substantially changed?” is that software, counter intuitively, has gotten harder to build. This is counter intuitive because the tools are orders of magnitude better, the amount of work you can cheaply outsource is nearly miraculous, computers are so damn fast and cheap these days, the quality of resources, much of it free, is off the charts, and the talent pool has exploded, and shows every sign of being smarter and better educated than ever. But software has gotten harder to build in one very particular and important way: it’s gotten more complex.
Kellan nails it:
We’ve developed an aesthetics of complexity: the sense that a good system is a complex one, that you should prefer a SPA over a web page, a distributed system over a simple one, a service over a config file, the idea if you aren’t on the latest technology you’re wasting your time, and potentially damaging your career.
Over the past 10 years or so, we’ve slowly but very surely transitioned to a state where frameworks are the norm, and I think it’s a problem.
I think some tools are a good idea. But as few as possible, and the easier they are to stop using, the better.
Now Michelle asks:
Suppose we want to stop using Tailwind one day?
So whenever possible, the safest, and most future-proof bet is to use the native features of the web platform.
There’s a broader point here about declarative design:
Setting very specific values may feel like you’re in more control, but you’re actually rescinding control by introducing fragility in the form of overly-specific CSS.
The past, present and future of blogs.
I like to think of CSS as a conditional design language.
Yes! This is exactly what I’m talking about with declarative design!
Read on for some fantastic examples. And also, Ahmad makes a comparison between CSS and Figma, pointing out that the conditional, declarative possibilities currently aren’t available in graphic design tools.
- It’s enormously valuable to simply follow your curiosity—and follow it for a really long time, even if it doesn’t seem to be leading anywhere in particular.
- Surprisingly big breakthrough ideas come when you bridge two seemingly unconnected areas.
Especially if you are a designer, an artist, a photographer, a writer, a blogger, a creator of any kind, owning your work is as important as ever. Social media platforms might be great for distributing your content and creating a network of like-minded people around you. But they will always be ephemeral, transient, and impermanent – not the best place to preserve your thoughts, words, and brushstrokes.
This is design engineering.
Marcin’s book is coming along nicely—you just know it’ll be a labour of love.
You’ve never seen a book on technology like this. Shift Happens is full of stories – some never before told – interleaved with 1,000+ beautiful full-color photos across two volumes.
The Kickstarter project launches in February. In the meantime, there are some keyboard-based games here for you to enjoy.
I’ve come to believe the best way to look at our Mars program is as a faith-based initiative. There is a small cohort of people who really believe in going to Mars, the way some people believe in ghosts or cryptocurrency, and this group has an outsize effect on our space program.
Maciej lays out the case against a crewed mission to Mars.
Like George Lucas preparing to release another awful prequel, NASA is hoping that cool spaceships and nostalgia will be enough to keep everyone from noticing that their story makes no sense. But you can’t lie your way to Mars, no matter how sincerely you believe in what you’re doing.
And don’t skip the footnotes:
Fourth graders writing to Santa make a stronger case for an X-Box than NASA has been able to put together for a Mars landing.
Every time I’ve thought “this is a niche subject or random thought, no one will be interested but I’ll publish anyway” someone will let me know that it was the EXACT train of thought they were thinking or thing they were looking for.
The interactive widgets embedded in this article are excellent teaching tools!
It gives me warm fuzzies to see an indie web building block like
rel="me" getting coverage like this.
I love just about every answer that Martin Rees gives in this wide-ranging interview.