The Full Tools Developer

by Michael Scharnagl

This article has been updated the last time on November 12, 2015 and the given information may be not accurate anymore. Feel free to contact me on twitter to get more details.

Last week I attended the Meet the TAG Meet-Up, a Q&A Panel with lots of great discussions between W3C TAG members and the audience – I even meet Sir Tim Berners-Lee; A wonderful evening. After the event, I talked to a student and he told me that one part of his studies is to build a “web app”. He decided to build an application for a museum showing interactive elements for exhibits. We started talking about how he plans to structure the project and what web technologies he plans to use when he said:

» Originally I planned to use AngularJS to build the app, but my professor said I should better use React «

What?! If now even professors teach students to use tool X, framework Y or library Z instead of telling them about “the basics” CSS, HTML, JavaScript, Accessibility, Progressive Enhancement, etc. we can all shout “The web sucks” and learn Swift. That’s like teaching an apprentice chef how to use kitchen equipment X (also known as jCook) instead of teaching them how to really cook.

I don’t hate tools, I just don’t like the way most people use them

If you know me, you know my opinion about using frameworks – let’s politely say I don’t like them very much. I don’t hate frameworks but seeing how these tools are used every day is just wrong in my opinion.
If you use jQuery to hide/show elements and for nothing else – that’s wrong.
If you use React because it’s cool to use it with no real benefits for the user and developers – that’s wrong.
If you use Bootstrap because everybody else does – that’s wrong.

But I also see developers using tools because it helps them to improve site performance, user experience and reduce developer time and costs – that’s great. I also use jQuery quite a lot, because it’s often the best choice for a project. If you use a tool, to me a favour and think about if you really need it for a project and use it responsible.

Learn the basics, teach the basics, use the basics

I see a problem here, developers who knows how to use tool X or how to ask a question to get a full working code example back but may don’t know what to do if nobody is answering or if tool X isn’t the cool tool anymore. So the next time someone asks you what a beginner should learn say HTML, CSS, JavaScript – one after another.

Maybe I am just a grumpy old chap not ready for a new tool every day; I am okay with that!

Michael Scharnagl

Portrait Michael Scharnagl

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A freelance front-end developer focusing on HTML5, CSS, progressive enhancement and web performance.