Programs are dead
Once upon a time.
Bored with everything you have done or seen on your screen, suddenly a spark of an idea pops up in your head. You think to yourself “I can create this program! It’s gonna solve an interesting problem and make life a bit easier for a few, and who knows, if I get lucky people might like it too and this would put a smile on their face. It’s gonna be fun!”.
It’s time. Proud with what you have built you decide to share it with the world. And indeed, it appears that it is the case that people like it too. Your project has now gained tons of stars on GitHub and has quite a number of daily users.
Six months passes and while you had almost forgotten about your little project, you now have got some new ideas that could make it even better. The project also has a few open issues and feature requests that you can take care of. So you come back to it.
“Let’s start”, you whispered to yourself with excitement. You run
npm install in your terminal like an innocent man and switch to your browser to scroll on Twitter while you are waiting for the dependencies to be installed. Moments later you return to your terminal and see… an error! How strange. You run
npm install again but watch it closely this time hoping you wouldn’t get any red messages again, but nope, here goes the error again. You hadn’t even touched it for the past six months so what happened?
Inspecting the error, you notice there’s an issue with the node-gyp package that is trying to build some sort of binary addon and it’s not compatible with your new operation system. You had encountered a similar issue and have managed to fixed it before, but the error message now is a bit different. You do your research but can’t exactly find the solution you’re looking for.
An hour or two has passed and you give up. You never needed to compress images that much anyway, so you just remove the image modifier library that was dependent on the binary addon to do its thing. It could be temporary since you can add it again later when you’re done.
npm install again. No errors this time thankfully. (I mean no errors aside from the 50 severe vulnerabilities that I guess can be dealt with later but at least you can start the app now.)
Your app is running at last and now you want to add that little extra nice thing you had in your mind. For that, you need the latest version of Next.js which itself depends on the latest version of React. You notice Next.js has gone up two major versions. Now you have to upgrade. I mean the current version must be old, slow, and inefficient, right? Also, give it a couple of years and you’re gonna be 4 to 6 major versions behind so you better hurry up.
Anyway, you update both and try to run the app again and… of course, you get a new error. Now the CSS-in-JS solution you used is not compatible with either of the two, the state manager library you used is not working properly and it is also abandoned by its maintainer so good luck with that, you have new TypeScript issues and you can’t also fix the vulnerabilities because it would break the app even further.
It could be the case that it’s just a “me” problem, that I’m naive and inexperienced and I don’t know how to use a programming language and its tooling. But even that, why would a programming language allow this? Why would it make it so easy for mistakes to happen? I thought that the languages are there to help us and give us confidence and power, to reduce the errors and to guide us in the right direction instead of constantly making us feel like we’re stupid because of missing things and not finding the right way—whatever that is.
In a perfect world.
A perfect world where there is a unified module system and I wouldn’t need to worry about file name extensions, build tools and compatibility. A world where I wouldn’t need dozens of third-party linters, type checkers and configurations just to make sure that my code is correct. A world in which I wouldn’t feel like my app is inadequate because I’m not using the [insert name] technology.
A perfect world where I can just use a library without it depending on hundreds of other libraries which they themselves might already be unmaintained and dead, or probably would be at some point. A world in which the frameworks I’m using are not being rewritten from scratch every few months—they don’t need to anymore.