Fast software, the best software

In his most recent essay, Craig Mod explores the effect of optimizing software for speed.

Speed and reliability are often intuited hand-in-hand. Speed can be a good proxy for general engineering quality. If an application slows down on simple tasks, then it can mean the engineers aren’t obsessive detail sticklers. Not always, but it can mean disastrous other issues lurk. I want all my craftspeople to stickle.

My newfound love for Hugo echoes this sentiment. It’s not the friendliest tool, but it’s speed and focus on doing one thing right makes it a joy to use.

That said, Sublime Text has – in my experience – only gotten faster. I love software that does this: Software that unbloats over time. This should be the goal of all software. The longer it’s around, the more elegant it should become. Smooth over like a river stone. I have full trust in the engineering of Sublime Text because I’ve used it for over a decade, but also because it always feels like a fast, focused tool (even though it’s actually very complicated) and has only become faster the longer I’ve used it.

Software that unbloats over time. What a beautiful idea.

Another excerpt that just had to be quoted:

Google Maps used to be a fast, focused tool. It’s now quite bovine. If you push the wrong button, it moos. Clunky, you could say. Overly complex. Unnecessarily layered.

Read the full essay on craigmod.com.

Forget about component lifecycles and start thinking in effects

React components have always relied on lifecycle methods for side effects. While lifecycle methods get the job done, they’re often overly verbose and have large margins for error.

It’s easy to forget to “clean up” a side effect when a component unmounts, or update the side effect when props change. As Dan Abramov preaches: Don’t stop the data flow.

React recently introduced a new way to deal with side effects: the useEffect hook. Translating lifecycle methods to useEffect calls can be confusing at first. It’s confusing because we shouldn’t be translating imperative lifecycle methods to declarative useEffect calls in the first place.

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Migrating my site to Hugo

This blog was a custom Laravel application for the past few years. While I was happy with the Laravel solution, I’m slowly trying to move away from maintaining my own servers. I’m also drawn to the simplicity and stability of serving plain html, so I decided to look into static site generators.

I quickly discovered that Hugo was what I was looking for. Hugo is a very fast and very popular static site generator.

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My favorite part of our company website

Some time last year, we released the latest iteration of the Spatie.be website.

Our company homepage, screenshot taken on 2019-06-17

There’s a succinct description of what we’re about, followed by a peculiar little block, dubbed “Latest insights from the team”.

Unlike other agencies, we don’t have a company blog. We encourage everyone to write on their own blog and put their latest articles in the spotlight.

Everyone keeps ownership of their content.

There’s nothing fancy backing this feature, blog entries are synced via RSS. If you’re interested in implementing something similar in PHP, our source code is available on GitHub.

React for Vue developers

For the past three years, I’ve been using both React and Vue in different projects, ranging from smaller websites to large scale apps.

Last month I wrote a post about why I prefer React over Vue. Shortly after I joined Adam Wathan on Full Stack Radio to talk about React from a Vue developer’s perspective.

We covered a lot of ground on the podcast, but most things we talked about could benefit from some code snippets to illustrate their similaraties and differences.

This post is a succinct rundown of most Vue features, and how I would write them with React in 2019 with hooks.

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Full Stack Radio 114: React for Vue developers

I had the honor to be a guest on Full Stack Radio with Adam Wathan.

We talked about why I prefer React over Vue — which I wrote about two weeks ago — and how to implement some patterns that Vue provides out of the box but aren’t explicitly available in React. Examples include computed properties, events and slots.

Adam’s quote:

In this episode, Adam talks to Sebastian De Deyne about learning React from the perspective of a Vue developer, and how to translate all of the Vue features you’re already comfortable with to React code.

Tune in on fullstackradio.com or on your favorite podcatcher!

14 KB

When you visit a website, your browser connects to a server via TCP. With TCP, the first roundtrip can be up to 14 KB large.

In other words, the first 14 KB sent to the client will always be the quickest to render in the browser. The rest of the response is streamed afterwards.

This website’s homepage is about 9.7 KB at the time of writing. Articles are roughly 4-10 KB, depending on their lengths. All CSS is inlined, so besides fonts and images everything is loaded withing the first roundtrip, making page loads fast and snappy.

Not all sites can be contained within 14 KB — most probably can’t. But keep the number in mind, and try to optimize the first 14 KB instead.

Understand React hooks internals with a 28-line React clone

Shawn Wang (@swyx) wrote about how React hooks work internally. The article is a deep dive into JavaScript closures, and builds up to a 28-line React clone with support for the useEffect and useState hooks.

In this article, we reintroduce closures by building a tiny clone of React Hooks. This will serve two purposes – to demonstrate the effective use of closures, and to show how you can build a Hooks clone in just 29 lines of readable JS. Finally, we arrive at how Custom Hooks naturally arise.

Understanding how React deals with hooks internally isn’t a required to use them, but it’s interesting material nonetheless!

You can read the full article on the Netlify blog.

Running PHP CS Fixer on every commit with husky and lint-staged

Last month, I wrote a post about automatically running prettier before every commit. This ensures that all JavaScript and CSS are formatted correctly before they’re stored in the project’s repository.

Husky and lint-staged have been working hard keeping our front-end assets clean as Spatie, so we decided to expand their responsibilities to keep our PHP files clean too. This is a modified version of my previous post using PHP CS Fixer instead of prettier. There’s also an example of a conmbined configuration to run prettier and PHP CS Fixer simultaneously at the end of the post.

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Web components

Every now and then, web components hype seems to resurface. Judging by my Twitter feed, it’s a bull market period now. Seems like a good time to share some thoughts.

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Don’t forget to be selfish every now and then

The other day, I stumbled upon an older article by DHH. “Work on what you use and share the rest”.

My core philosophy about open source is that we should all be working on the things that we personally use and care about. Working for other people is just too hard and the quality of the work will reflect that. But if we all work on the things we care about and then share those solutions between us, the world gets richer much faster.

I’ve been keeping this in the back of my mind the past few months.

I was always adding features because I’d expect other people to expect them. It’s a trap! You’re not making people happier by guessing what they might need. You’re not doing anyone a disservice by building things for yourself.

Building things for yourself makes it easier to ship something you feel happy about. It makes it easier to ship something at all.

Don’t forget to be selfish as an open source maintainer every now and then. It’s a good investment in the long run.

I used to fall in the trap of thinking I needed to add features because other people might expect them to be a part of my code, not because I need them myself.

The great divide

Chris Coyier consolidated an array of opinions about what it means to be a frontend developer today.

On one side, an army of developers whose interests, responsibilities, and skill sets are heavily revolved around JavaScript.

On the other, an army of developers whose interests, responsibilities, and skill sets are focused on other areas of the front end, like HTML, CSS, design, interaction, patterns, accessibility, etc.

It’s that other side that seems to really be feeling this divide. A quote from Mandy Michael:

What I don’t understand is why it’s okay if you can “just write JS”, but somehow you’re not good enough if you “just write HTML and CSS”.

When every new website on the internet has perfect, semantic, accessible HTML and exceptionally executed, accessible CSS that works on every device and browser, then you can tell me that these languages are not valuable on their own. Until then we need to stop devaluing CSS and HTML.

A lot of these excerpts really hit home. I’m looking forward to the conversation this might spark.

Read the full piece on css-tricks.com.