September 12th, 2019
Earlier this week, Bastian Allgeier published some interesting thoughts about complexity in web development and how changing simple things can often feel far more difficult than they need to be:
You want to build a JS file? Please update Webpack first. Oh, that new version of Webpack is no longer compatible with your Node version. Oh, your new Node version is no longer compatible with that other dependency. Oh, now you have 233 detected security issues in all your node_modules but you can’t fix them because that would break something completely unrelated.
It’s a UX nightmare and I haven’t found a single exception yet. Vue CLI or Parcel are the most positive examples, where positive means: not as horrible as the rest.
This dependency hell is also the reason why old projects are almost like sealed capsules. You can hardly let a project lie around for more than a year because afterward it’s probably broken.
A couple of weeks ago, I returned to a web app that was built with a variety of tools I hadn’t updated in quite some time and realized that it would be an enormous effort to fix all the packages and dependencies; instead, I should just start over again. I can certainly empathize with Bastian on this stuff.
This reminds me that Chris wrote a great essay not so long about simple web development and collected a ton of thoughts from other developers out there.