Backlash

In OAuth of Fealty, Ian Bogost takes a well-aimed swipe at Facebook’s developer API.

“This is one of those areas in which it’s actually possible to learn something from Microsoft circa the 1990s. How did Microsoft develop a massively adopted ecosystem of developer products for its home and enterprise operating systems? By creating an ecosystem of development tools, programs, and documentation that helped developers do their jobs, to accomplish their goals. Documentation that is complete and accurate. Examples with clarity and utility. Slow revs of subsystems and tools that take into account the fact that the rest of us cannot and should not have to think about a development platform as a full-time job, because we’re trying to use that platform to produce results that exceed it.”

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“But there’s another aspect of rapid, reckless change that few discuss: it helps create a sense of confusion and desperation that forces developers to devote more and more attention to the Facebook Platform. What better way to increase collective commitment to Facebook apps than to quietly extort incremental time out of its creators, time that might otherwise be committed to competing products or—gasp—to their own businesses or personal lives?”

I have recently come to the realization that I feel this way about large chunks of “front-end web development”. I’m sick of the constant blog-fawning over 0.x frameworks, and the hipster pressure to adopt new tools and workflows that will be obsolete whenever the next ironically-named npm-based automation tool makes a splash with the in-crowd. Don’t get me started on conferences.

This is a problem, because front-end web development is my professional bread and butter. But honestly, I feel like retreating to some back-end contracts for a couple of years to let this Cambrian explosion settle down a bit. I named my company “Aleona Product Development” very deliberately: I care about building products that will delight customers. Tools and technologies don’t excite me.