Skip to main content

The Practice of "Vanilla JS"


I try to keep my skills up and its hard to do when the thing you try to have skills in is always changing. The web landscape is always in flux, at a seemingly ever-increasing pace. Javascript represents only one area of the web, and as a language within a much greater ecosystem even that microcosm can keep you busy with the evolution of the language itself (ES6), constantly rolling out new in-browser APIs (like the new Web Cryptography API), and learning to sling this language both inside browsers and on backends (Node.js).

One of the best tools I have to keep these skills sharp is the practice of what you call “Vanilla Javascript”. I try hard to find lots of small opportunities to practice Javascript without the abstractions of all the myriad of libraries and frameworks that might obscure it even in the course of a single day’s work. I find two simple strategies help me poke through the cushion these tools provide to make sure I don’t forget what’s under the hood.

  • On a new project, especially a smaller one, I’ll build what I can using no JS libraries until the need really presents itself. Its wonderful how many tasks you’d turn to jQuery in the past for are just fine to approach using nothing but standard APIs today.
  • At any time, I try to have one toy project i might come back to when I have some time to kill, which I keep a “plain only” rule on. These are just private throwaway projects, but useful to give me a sandbox to avoid the pressures that usual projects bring to the table with a necessity of a toolchain’s safety net.

The effort is small, but the impact of keeping yourself reminded of the language and APIs underneath jQuery, Angular, React, or whatever other JS toolset you prefer is undoubtedly valuable. 

The next time you’ve got a new task JS to complete, give yourself a quick challenge in accomplishing it without a library. But, find a balance, and don’t force yourself to do what you really should use a library for. Just give yourself that chance, now and then, to discover some new Vanilla JS you may have not known before or to revive some understand which had gotten rusty.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Respect and Code Reviews

Code Reviews in a development team only function best, or possible at all, when everyone approaches them with respect. That’s something I’ve usually taken for granted because I’ve had the opportunity to work with amazing developers who shine not just in their technical skills but in their interpersonal skills on a team. That isn’t always the case, so I’m going to put into words something that often exists just in assumptions.
You have to respect your code. This is first only because the nature and intent of code reviews are to safeguard the quality of your code, so even having code reviews demonstrates a baseline of respect for that code. But, maybe not everyone on the team has the same level of respect or entered a team with existing review traditions that they aren’t acquainted with.
There can be culture shock when you enter a team that’s really heavy on code reviews, but also if you enter a team or interact with a colleague who doesn’t share that level of respect for the process or…

CARDIAC: The Cardboard Computer

I am just so excited about this.


CARDIAC. The Cardboard Computer. How cool is that? This piece of history is amazing and better than that: it is extremely accessible. This fantastic design was built in 1969 by David Hagelbarger at Bell Labs to explain what computers were to those who would otherwise have no exposure to them. Miraculously, the CARDIAC (CARDboard Interactive Aid to Computation) was able to actually function as a slow and rudimentary computer. 
One of the most fascinating aspects of this gem is that at the time of its publication the scope it was able to demonstrate was actually useful in explaining what a computer was. Could you imagine trying to explain computers today with anything close to the CARDIAC?

It had 100 memory locations and only ten instructions. The memory held signed 3-digit numbers (-999 through 999) and instructions could be encoded such that the first digit was the instruction and the second two digits were the address of memory to operate on. The only re…

How To Care If BSD, MIT, or GPL Licenses Are Used

The two recent posts about some individuals' choice of GPL versus others' preference for BSD and MIT style licensing has caused a lot of debate and response. I've seen everything as an interesting combination of very important topics being taken far too seriously and far too personally. All involved need to take a few steps back.

For the uninitiated and as a clarifier for the initiated, we're dealing with (basically) three categories of licensing when someone releases software (and/or its code):
Closed Source. Easiest to explain, because you just get nothing.GPL. If you get the software, you get the source code, you get to change it, and anything you combine it with must be under the same terms.MIT and BSD. If you get the software, you might get the source code, you get to change it, and you have no obligations about anything else you combine it with.The situation gets stickier when we look at those combinations and the transitions between them.

Use GPL code with Closed S…