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New Web Development. Or, why Copilots and chatbots are particularly bad for modern web dev

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article discusses the impending paradigm shift in web development, driven by the growing dissatisfaction with the limitations and drawbacks of the React and Single-Page-App (SPA) approach. It explores the concept of a paradigm shift, the issues with the current React-based development model, and the challenges organizations and developers face in transitioning to a new, more standards-oriented web development approach.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] The Concept of a Paradigm Shift

1. What is the definition of a paradigm according to the article? A paradigm is a mental model or worldview that is defined through exemplary examples. It represents a way of thinking about practical problems in a field using an exemplar as a reference.

2. How does a paradigm shift occur? A paradigm shift happens when the older paradigm ceases to be useful and begins to be replaced by a new paradigm that is more useful. This transition is often messy and takes time, as the older paradigm continues to work for many of its intended use cases.

3. What are the key factors driving the current paradigm shift in web development? The key factors driving the paradigm shift in web development are:

  • The limitations of the React and SPA approach, such as poor performance, accessibility issues, and increased complexity
  • The growing capabilities of the modern web platform, with many new and underutilized features
  • Pressure on organizations to reduce costs and maintenance expenses associated with constantly evolving frameworks like React

[02] Issues with the Current React-based Approach

1. What are the main problems with the React-based web development approach? The main problems with the React-based approach include:

  • Websites and web apps made in React tend to be slower than those made using other frameworks or just the built-in/DOM APIs
  • Many popular React approaches are inaccessible by default
  • React apps tend to be disproportionately complex due to the thick abstraction layer over the base browser platform
  • The various state management approaches in React often result in complicated "spaghetti code"
  • Poor support for low- to mid-ranged devices and connections
  • High maintenance costs due to framework churn and the need to constantly upgrade to newer versions

2. How has React been beneficial for organizations, and how is this changing? React has been beneficial for organizations by commodifying developers and making it easier to structure development teams. However, this is no longer seen as a positive signal by investors, who are now pressuring organizations to reduce costs, which makes the limitations of React more acutely noticeable.

[03] Challenges in Transitioning to a New Paradigm

1. What are the challenges organizations and developers face in transitioning to a new, more standards-oriented web development approach? The key challenges include:

  • Lack of developers with strong fundamentals in vanilla JavaScript, CSS, and HTML, as the industry has focused on training developers in React and other frameworks
  • Difficulty in finding and retraining developers with the necessary skills for the new paradigm
  • Organizational resistance to investing in retraining and rebuilding the necessary skill sets

2. How are developers and organizations trying to address these challenges? Some organizations are turning to tools like chatbots and code copilots to help developers "teach themselves" vanilla JavaScript, CSS, and HTML, as well as generate code using these core platform features. However, the article argues that this is an extremely poor fit for the new standards-oriented web development approach, as these tools are based on statistical models of the existing, outdated paradigm.

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