JavaScript: Chasing the Elusive White Rabbit

“My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”

― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

As a front-end developer you have undoubtedly felt this way. Between the myriad of frameworks, plugins, and tools at your disposal it can feel as though web development is moving so quickly that it takes all your effort just to stay relevant. Like Alice, when she discovers the white rabbit and fervently follows him through wonderland, we often find ourselves chasing solutions through the madness of the Internet.

Think about the last time you were approaching building an application. You needed to decide your framework, database, plugins, pre-processors, which platforms you are going to support, and a plethora of other questions that you have wrestled with before and will likely wrestle with again. Gone are the days where we can sit down and write our code in PHP with Apache and MySQL running in the backend (not that it isn’t still entirely feasible to run that stack).

“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Much like Alice we seek council from those we consider more well versed. Instead of a Mad Hatter or the Cheshire Cat they are those individuals who encounter across the Internet. Unfortunately this most often leaves us, much like Alice, with half truths and doublespeak. Then, in a state of utter disarray and confusion, we catch the white rabbit out of the corner of our eye. A blog post or tweet from someone claiming to of discovered the solution that will change the way we build applications. So we start chasing the white rabbit like the dodo in a Caucus-Race.

Sites like StackOverflow sit us down at the table with groups of sometimes helpful, often opinionated, and rarely patient individuals who have a greater interest in building their reputation than helping others. Asking questions often leaves you feeling inadequate and defenseless because you aren’t part of that upper echelon.

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

This is the advice we should all take. Much like Alice as she wanders through the forest in Wonderland it is up to us to find our own way. At some point we will discover our white rabbit. Don’t get dissuaded by the overly critical, dogmatic zealots of programming who insist that you paint the roses red. Learn the fundamentals of application design, CSS, HTML, and Javascript, and start looking at the frameworks and when you need them. Not the other way around.