Go Long on Web Components
The common conception is that web technologies are a volatile bunch, where nothing stays the same for years. But the core technologies are actually rather conservative. Just consider how well an old web application or a site continue to work with the latest browsers.
Over the years we’ve had countless efforts for making up for lacking browser features; custom fonts, rounded corners, video playback, just to name a few. One by one, these have fallen prey to the ever advancing enhancements in web standards and their browser implementations. These simply become non-issues over time and the workarounds become irrelevant.
However things are rarely black and white. Take jQuery, the once de-facto utility library that developers used to include by routine. jQuery skills were once listed as requirements for jobs. Nowadays it’s a curiosity to list jQuery skills as a requirement and the library is no longer the must-have it once was. This does not mean jQuery itself was a bad technology or a failure.
Standards are built to last
The history of web standards is not short of failures. There are plenty of efforts that failed to gain traction in the real world. These were standards that were designed in a lab, sucked up millions in investment, but failed because didn’t have input from the real world or were ahead of their time. You may remember such initiative like WAP, XForms and Modular XHTML.
jQuery is a great example how web standards can be built on innovation done on library level. We’ve had document.querySelector native in browsers for years now. During the past few years the Web Components standard has not only matured in technical implementation, but it has certainly taken quite a bit of influence from Angular, Ember, React and other innovators.
Web Components are neutral
As of May 2017 there are over a billion devices with browsers that are Web Components capable, and the polyfill library provides a practical way forward for browsers that yet lack standards compliant implementations. All the way to the last incarnation of Internet Explorer.
The Web Components v1 spec is solid and key polyfill libraries are stable. iOS now ships with Web Components enabled browser and the rewrite of YouTube in Web Components is a living example of a large scale application in the real world. Web Components have arrived.
Learning is an investment
There are quite a bit of parallels between the world of business and software development. For both you need to invest resources to something and over time they tend to fluctuate in value. Disposable investments, like a van, only has a limited lifetime which you need to use it efficiently. Real estate on the other hand is a fixed investment that takes time to capitalise on.
If I had to choose a single front end technology in 2017 for a long lasting career in Web Development, I would choose Web Components.
- Jani Tarvainen, 2017/05/18
Originally published at malloc.fi.