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Mike Jackson
14 posts

I'm a contract web developer living in London. I'm interested in understanding things from first principles.

Handmade Web Development
1 week, 2 days ago Edited by Mike Jackson on July 29, 2020, 6:54 p.m.
As someone who has spent most of his career development web applications, I've often wondered what the application of Handmade principles and philosophy looks like for web development.

The web seems to be the poster child for the problems of modern software development: layers and upon layers of arbitrary complexity that leads to slow, bloated, resource intensive applications and cargo cult programming.

Yet for all its flaws, the web is becoming the primary way software is consumed, shared and used whether we like it or not. The question is what can we contribute as a community to improve the situation? How can we provide a Handmade alternative for a new generation of developers who want to do a good job and care about quality software?

I don't have the answers, but I wanted to start the discussion.

Off the top of my head some ideas worth exploring:

  • Promoting better languages for server side development such as Rust, Go or C/C++ with CGI where we can at least reason about performance and resource usage.
  • Creating handmade library alternatives to common popular web development libraries. Think Raylib vs SDL2 or STB vs STL but for React, Vue and JQuery, etc
  • WebAssembly seems promising and may provide an alternative approach to frontend web development that still needs to be explored.
  • Implementing an alternative web browser to Chromium that a single developer could reasonably understand (I know this is a colossal task). Right now Chromium is about 25 million lines of code without comments.
  • Improving Wordpress. Wordpress powers like 30% of the web, so even modest improvements could make a massive difference. I know that there is someone in the community that works directly for automattic which could lower the barrier of entry for the community to get involved.


I'd be interested in hearing other people ideas as well as how you might have incorporated a Handmade approach into your own work if you are a web developer.