My hot take is that a lot of developers tend to switch to new stacks as a way of kicking the can down the road on building features that users actually want and care about — so the best tech stack is the one you can build something useful in today.
We’re just building websites here.
The fastest website you can build is HTML and CSS on a global CDN. Anything else we add to that site is going to slow it down — so when we’re going to add extra steps, we need to make sure the trade-offs are actually worth it.
Ultimately, the technology we choose to build websites doesn’t matter. There are a huge number of thriving businesses that make eye-watering profits, and very few are using bleeding edge web frameworks to ship.
In fact, most of them ship jQuery.
jQuery still powers 77% of websites.
Inside the tech hype bubbles, jQuery is DEAD-dead. We talk about it as if it’s been fully abandoned for years and no one ever uses it anymore.
Could you build a great website with jQuery today? You can! And people do!
Social media hype bubbles are small.
In online tech circles like Twitter, YouTube, Hacker News, Reddit, and their ilk, we can end up with a skewed perception of what the world of web dev actually looks like. A relatively tiny number of tech influencers — like me! — spend a lot of time discussing the bleeding edge of tech. We make it sound like everyone is doing the new thing, and everyone has left behind the old things.
But that’s not reality. That’s just me and a bunch of nerds like me who are extremely into web tech talking about our hobbies. Sure, we’re using this bleeding edge stuff in production, but we’re the exception, not the rule.
The FoMO factory of social media remains a menace to actually shipping things.
If you build something cool, the tools are irrelevant.
If you build a web app that people enjoy using and are willing to pay for, it doesn’t really matter what you used to build it. What matters is that you can get the idea out of your head and into a working app. It doesn’t matter if you built it with Java, .Net, Node, Ruby on Rails, or Dreamweaver.
Don’t let someone who speaks authoritatively on Twitter make you feel bad about what you build with. What matters is that you built something.
When does it make sense to switch?
When there’s a valid reason to rebuild an entire app, it’ll be fairly obvious and compelling. Rebuilding an intranet that was pinned to IE6 has a host of compelling security and feature reasons to make the switch.
Shaving 50 milliseconds off a page load by spending months switching from Node to Rust, though? It just doesn’t make enough of an impact to be worth the cost.
The best tech stack is whatever you’re shipping with.
Technology is a tool, and it only matters as a means of delivering ideas to people who will use, enjoy, and (hopefully) pay for the things we build with it.
Outside of that, additional attention spent on tools is a hobby unless your job is building tools. Hobbies are wonderful and they move the web forward and we need folks on the bleeding edge to experiment, but you bear no obligation to change the way you build for the web just because it seems like your current stack is no longer trendy.
We’re in this field to solve real problems for real people. The rest is details.