Sebastian De Deyne
Designer & developer at Spatie

Strawberry jelly

Have you ever made your own strawberry jelly? The recipe is straightforward: toss together 1 cup of strawberries (fresh or frozen), 1 cup of sugar, and 1 tablespoon of pectin (to thicken). Bring to a boil and let it cool.

Congratulations, you’ve made your own jelly! It also tastes 10x better than store-bought jars. You can tweak ratios and swap ingredients to your own delight, and it takes about 5 minutes to make.

Before we started making our own jelly at home, the thought never really occurred to me. I simply had the habit of buying jelly at the grocery store. Not knowing how to make jelly made me assume it was either diffucult or required a time consuming process. As it turns out, neither are true.

While I’d love to have a cooking blog at some point of my life, this one’s still about programming. Where am I heading here?

External libraries are like strawberry jelly.

Before you npm install strawberry-jelly, consider making your own. Having an entire ecosystem of packages at your fingertips is amazing, but dependencies come at a cost. The cost of not fully understanding or owning the code. The cost of a package being a general solution: it might be incomplete or too complete, adding unnecessary weight.

Making jelly is a worthy tradeoff because it’s fast and easy to make, and substantially better than the alternative.

I’m not asking anyone to stop installing dependencies altogether, but to think twice before adding an external helpers or toolboxes. Don’t install dependencies when they’re an easy solution, install them when they’re a better solution.

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