crossfit.js

crossfit.js

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Rey Bango telling you to do it

When I first heard about Crossfit, I thought it to be an excellent idea. I still do, to be fair:

  • Short, very focused and intense workouts instead of time consuming exercise schedules
  • No need for expensive and complex equipment; it is basically running and lifting heavy things
  • A lot of the workouts use your own body weight instead of extra equipment
  • A strong focus on good nutrition. Remove the stuff that is fattening and concentrate on what’s good for you

In essence, it sounded like the counterpoint to overly complex and expensive workouts we did before. You didn’t need expensive equipment. Some bars, ropes and tyres will do. There was also no need for a personal trainer, tailor-made outfits and queuing up for machines to be ready for you at the gym.

Fast forward a few years and you’ll see that we made Crossfit almost a running joke. You have overly loud Crossfit bros crashing weights in the gym, grunting and shouting and telling each other to “feel the burn” and “when you haven’t thrown up you haven’t worked out hard enough”. You have all kind of products branded Crossfit and even special food to aid your Crossfit workouts.

Thanks, commercialism and marketing. You made something simple and easy annoying and elitist again. There was no need for that.

One thing about Crossfit is that it can be dangerous. Without good supervision by friends it is pretty easy to seriously injure yourself. It is about moderation, not about competition.

I feel the same thing happened to JavaScript and it annoys me. JavaScript used to be an add-on to what we did on the web. It gave extra functionality and made it easier for our end users to finish the tasks they came for. It was a language to learn, not a lifestyle to subscribe to.

Nowadays JavaScript is everything. Client side use is only a small part of it. We use it to power servers, run tasks, define build processes and create fat client software. And everybody has an opinionated way to use it and is quick to tell others off for “not being professional” if they don’t subscribe to it. The brogrammer way of life rears its ugly head.

Let’s think of JavaScript like Crossfit was meant to be. Lean, healthy exercise going back to what’s good for you:

  • Use your body weight – on the client, if something can be done with HTML, let’s do it with HTML. When we create HTML with JavaScript, let’s create what makes sense, not lots of DIVs.
  • Do the heavy lifting – JavaScript is great to make complex tasks easier. Use it to create simpler interfaces with fewer reloads. Change user input that was valid but not in the right format. Use task runners to automate annoying work. However, if you realise that the task is a nice to have and not a need, remove it instead. Use worker threads to do heavy computation without clobbering the main UI.
  • Watch what you consume – keep dependencies to a minimum and make sure that what you depend on is reliable, safe to use and update-able.
  • Run a lot – performance is the most important part. Keep your solutions fast and lean.
  • Stick to simple equipment – it is not about how many “professional tools” we use. It is about keeping it easy for people to start working out.
  • Watch your calories – we have a tendency to use too much on the web. Libraries, polyfills, frameworks. Many of these make our lives easier but weigh heavy on our end users. It’s important to understand that our end users don’t have our equipment. Test your products on a cheap Android on a flaky connection, remove what isn’t needed and make it better for everyone.
  • Eat good things – browsers are evergreen and upgrade continuously these days. There are a lot of great features to use to make your products better. Visit “Can I use” early and often and play with new things that replace old cruft.
  • Don’t be a code bro – nobody is impressed with louts that constantly tell people off for not being as fit as they are. Be a code health advocate and help people get into shape instead.

JavaScript is much bigger these days than a language to learn in a day. That doesn’t mean, however, that every new developer needs to know the whole stack to be a useful contributor. Let’s keep it simple and fun.

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