JavaScript is heavy, programming is hard

Welcome to the sixth edition of Growing the Stack!

We have two links this week: a call to action think about our users instead of ourselves, and an eccentric talk by Joe Armstrong, that compares the complexity in our computers to the complexity in the entire universe.


The “Developer Experience” Bait-and-Switch

Alex Russel, software engineer for Chrome and sometimes harsh critic about the state of web performance, talks about how we’re forsaking our users in favor of our shiny developer tools.

“These tools let us move faster. Because we can iterate faster we’re delivering better experiences. […]”

This argument substitutes good intentions and developer value (“moving faster”, “less complexity”) for questions about the lived experience of users. It also tends to do so without evidence. We’re meant to take it on faith that it will all work out if only the well intentioned people are never questioned about the trajectory of the outcomes.

These kind of conversations should happen on a case by case basis; it’s impossible to have meaningful discussion without context here. However, I do agree with the sentiment that our tunnel vision on developer experience (using heavy frameworks for no reason, pulling in a gazillion libraries,…) has a deteriorating effect on the user experience provided by our applications. We can and should do better.

JavaScript is the web’s CO2. We need some of it, but too much puts the entire ecosystem at risk. Those who emit the most are furthest from suffering the consequences — until the ecosystem collapses.

The Mess We’re In

Joe Armstrong, creator of Erlang, a programming language notorious for it’s reliability, talks about the complexity we’ve amassed in computer programming the past few decades.

In his light-hearted, sometimes eccentric talk, Joe compares probability in software to the immense size of our universe.

This talk was given at the Strange Loop conference in 2014, watch it on YouTube.