A blog by Aaron Godin

Chaos and Beauty

Every blog or HN post I read relating to front-end development has at least one commenter with the same sentiment: the front-end world is fucking chaos. I think it’s time someone addressed those people (spoiler, some people have).

First off—sure, it’s chaos. Compared to all other software ecosystems, front-end development is a mess. From build tools, to libraries and frameworks, web browsers, and of course the JavaScript language itself, choosing a front-end stack and keeping up to date with it is not a simple task.

The common complaint is that as soon as you make a decision on what your stack is, there is something better out there. While there is certainly a downside to how fast the web moves, the upsides are huge. An incredible amount of developers are pouring themselves into making it easier to build complex, maintainable, performant applications for the web, far beyond what the web was ever intended for.

Why not view this in a different lens? The web is continually ripening, and when we thought it was finally coming to a head in the last five years, it didn’t stop. This is why front-end grabs my attention in a way that other software ecosystems do not: the platform I use to create is always transforming.

To draw a comparison and relating to another creative area of my life, imagine if the software to create music essentially slowed to a halt. This would be awful for musicians. New ways of creating music are constantly emerging, and there should be no reason that every musician should not be psyched about this. You mean I can create music faster, more expressively, and that sounds better than I have before?! Yes, let’s do it.

Same with web development. Is there anyone out there who is heavily invested in front-end who thinks, “yeah, I think this is good enough. No need to iterate on the web anymore.” Absolutely not.

This mentality that front-end development is a chaotic mess—if you hold that mentality you’re missing the beauty of it all. An incredible amount of hours are being poured into turning a shit storm of an ecosystem into something that can deliver more and more value with every technological increment. It’s driven by people that see the potential the web has.

HN user colordrops said it best (and certainly inspired me to write this article):

We aren’t going to get off of your lawn while you continue to beat a dead horse. The web is built on open standards and there are billions of pages and apps out there. To expect web development to be a perfect monoculture is a failure of your imagination and ability to adapt rather than a failure of the ecosystem.