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Abstractions vs Permanence

2022-01-24

It took me some time but I finally realized something about the idea of writing as little code as possible. Writing as little code as possible involves creating abstractions and relying on them and ultimately this requires you to throw away legacy code.

This flies in the face of what I believe about building web products to last and I'm not sure how to marry the two. I truly believe the web would be a better place if things were built for older browsers and browsers that run on phones. This however also means writing code for systems that haven't had upgrades in a long time.

An example of this is the amount of code it takes to do layouts in HTML. There is a ton of CSS that goes into making a layout look good on the web and even more to make it responsive. Now with CSS grid however, you can cut down on that CSS and HTML quite a bit. Updating a site to use CSS grid would follow the first idea at the cost of the second. I'm not sure what the right answer is and ultimately it will come down to priorities but I wonder which one I will lean for.

I use the latest browser on a powerful machine in a place where internet is plentiful. To me, removing code is ideal. However I'm forsaking those that are not in my situation which is unfair. After all if the government website updates to a point that someone's old 15 year old laptop with IE doesn't open it, I would blame the government for it. I wouldn't expect someone to buy a newer laptop just to get access to information.

Permanent computing vs limiting the amount of code I write. Which one is worse, which one is better?