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Fear the Horrible Enterprise JavaScript Boogieman

During the early 2000's at the end of the first dotcom boom enterprise technologies like .NET and Java were the normal development tools. These tools had heavyweight IDEs, complex deployment a mysteries like ServerBeans that few actually understood had any idea how they worked. Fast forward fifteen years and JavaScript is now in the same place.

In between this time there was some time when PHP ruled supreme, while Ruby and Python gained some traction. Up until the rise of Node and improved language features of JavaScript, PHP continued ruling as the mainstream language. And would have done likely for some time to come.

Somewhere along the way PHP started moving up with added structure and complexity. While PHP continues to support the drop dead simple development model, the software written in the language came increasingly complex. This is why some started complaining that PHP was becoming like Java and embraced JavaScript and Node as a new greenfield for their hobby projects.

Node soon graduated from the garage to enterprise IT conferences. JavaScript continues to be an easy language to get started with, but there is a lot of mystification and hype around the latest libraries. The worst phase passed in 2015 and in 2016 the field is stabilising with Angular2 providing a complete modern toolkit and the React community stabilising on Redux and React Router, etc.

But it seems like something was lost. The simplicity of getting started is still there in the DNA of JavaScript. Why do we now have complex libraries and convoluted build and deployment processes that make it impossible or hard to debug the actual code running on the server. There's memes of this shit! Wasn't this why C# and Java were considered horrible?

It all boils down to the complexity of applications built with any toolkit. Nowadays a lot of software written in JavaScript is so complex that you need a lot of tooling just to keep it manageable. But like clean Java code can be elegant, so can PHP or JavaScript. Developers just have the natural tendency to turn them into over engineered turds.

Even if at work you work with "horrible enterprise JavaScript", you don't need to pick up a new language to write simple code - just use the language you already know and don't bloat it.

Written by Jorgé on Friday July 1, 2016

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