Lately in the episodes of my series called The Toolbox, I started to add a tagline that captured the way I feel about keeping up with being a developer.
The pace of the web is relentless
Most of the courses I'd been doing are what we call 'screen cap'. It works well, but I'd always wondered if there was a better way. The Toolbox has been a source of experimentation in the past year. Here's a clip so you can see what I've been up to.
My plan was to try to do something weekly; One or two actionable tips covering new, cutting edge material: new frameworks, JS/CSS features, news, great new tooling and maybe an interview here and there. The sort of stuff that wouldn't work as part of my courses.
In doing that, I've realized how hard it is to keep up with things, even for someone whose full time job depends on it. Here's some of the trends I discovered in the year.
WindiCSS tried to disrupt Tailwind CSS 2 with a compiled approach, but then, Tailwind CSS 2.1 experimented with a JIT compiler. The developer of WindiCSS started a new project called UnoCSS, which is an atomic approach similar to AssemblerCSS.
At the end of the year Tailwind CSS responded with a new version 3, which puts the JIT compiler up front as a core feature. It is rapidly taking over the component-based web, so if you're using things like React, Vue or Svelte, give you should learn how it works. it will change the way you do things.
Last year we saw companies like Vercel and Netlify got large infusions of cash. Vercel made some strategic investments, hiring Rich Harris, the main developer of Svelte and also buying up TurboRepo. Keep an eye on Svelte, it's due to have a breakthrough year.
Definitely watch this interview from the folks at Vercel where Rich talks about the future of the platform. Also, here's a course I did that's an introduction to Svelte.
New frameworks like Shopify's Hydrogen and Remix are going back to the server. Servers are great at caching, storing and processing lots of data. The Serverless movement tried to make life easier by pre-rendering content, but shouldn't the server do that anyways. It's a pain to pre-render content locally and then upload it, so why not let the server do it. That's where these frameworks are trying to go.
The language is changing, but no longer by leaps and bounds. If you haven't already, get some experience with modules, arrow functions, destructuring, intersection observer, pure functions. There's been a few additions to the language operators like &&= ?. that are really interesting and useful. Other methods like replaceAll and promise.any are also real interesting.
If you don't know CSS Grid yet, you should probably spend some time with it. You don't need it for everything, but it's superior in some ways and it's becoming a standard in the industry. The upcoming sub-grid looks interesting, but it means that grid will be getting more and more overtly complex.
You should learn about object fit (Tailwinds example above, it works just like CSS), since it helps your images work like the older backgrounds. Container queries is another hot topic, but it's been in flux so I'd wait a while to bother about it. Everyone is going to be making some videos about it though. You should also check out feature queries, gap, scroll snap, :is/:where. There's also filters and shapes that are going to change what people can do with layouts.
Come with me if you want to learn
I'll give you an overview of a topic, like a framework, and then show you a sample of how that topic works in a practical way. Something small to follow along with so that you can learn things without it taking too much time. If you keep up with the episodes, at the end of the year, there's a lot that we'll learn together.
This year, The Toolbox will be available as a live stream with parts of it moving to courses on LinkedIn learning. Should be super exciting and fun, so I hope you'll join me.
Don't miss the first action packed episode of the Toolbox this Weds, 10am PST, 1pm Eastern time. I'll be covering the changes to Tailwind CSS version 3, what you should learn next year, plus the usual tools and tips in the Bits (the new name for shorts).