The problem with frameworks


As anyone whose ever spoken to me will testify, I believe there are some major shortcomings with popular front-end development frameworks like Twitter’s Bootstrap.

Previously I’ve been bothered mostly with the details, non-standard markup, overly complicated and restrictive grids or poor semantics. However, I’ve recently come to realise that probably most damaging is that such frameworks deprive developers of knowledge and understanding. Let me explain.

##To learn is to understand I’m sure, at some time, we’ve all done one of those online tutorials; “build an uber-widget in 30 minutes” or similar. The value in such a tutorials is not in the end-product, but in the process of learning they give us.

With the learning comes understanding and with understanding we can build not only a facsimile über-widget but, more importantly, we can adapt and innovate using what we have learnt. With knowledge we can create something new, something better, perhaps even a wunder-widget.

##A hidden cost It’s one thing to be given a comprehensive toolkit and a set of Ikea-like instructions about how to use it, but quite another to really understand the individual tools; how they were made, their shortcomings or how they might be improved.

Giving someone all the right tools of the trade will not make them a master carpenter. It’s the same with front-end development toolkits.

My fear is that, in delivering a pre-packaged, pasteurised and homogenised frameworks, we starve not only ourselves but future developers of knowledge, understanding and real skill.

##Everyone knows this Personally, I don’t think that is true. I would be quite happy if everyone understood that such toolkits are, like many things in life, a compromise. You sacrifice quality, performance and understanding for the sake of speed and convenience.

I get the impression that many are under the impression that such tools are unicorns-in-a-tin, the best of the best.

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