David Lohmeyer's Blog

Stop Confusing Future Web Developers

Stop for a second.  Have you heard of tools like Jade (an HTML preprocessor) or Stylus (a CSS preprocessor)? How about SASS and CompassGrunt and Gulp?  Which of these newer tools are useful?  The developers building preprocessor-like tools need to step back for a second and realize what they're doing.  They are fragmenting the web design and development field beyond recognition, and I'd love to see it stop or slow down.  I'm not old, I just love not having to spend the entire day learning about new tools when there's work to be done.  New tools are sometimes good and sometimes bad.  They're very good if they bring new things to the table that noticably increase productivity.  SASS is a great example of this, being one of the first preprocessors and having features like nesting, variables, extends and mixins. If you compare it to Stylus, however, you see that someone went 10 steps further on the SASS model and came up with something more confusing in hopes of it being simpler.

Here's a fact: taking away syntax is confusing.  Stop doing it.  People still have to re-learn your tool even if it does clean up the syntax.  Even then, whitespace reliant syntaxes are bad anyway. Instead of worrying about a parentheses, you're worried about an invisible whitespace character.  Congratulations, you just confused 1000 new web developers.

Go ahead and blog about how great a new tool is.  If it's not increasing productivity 10-fold, people should ignore it.  For everyone's sanity.  We need to stop worrying about how pretty our hammer is, when a normal old hammer does the job just as well.

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