When Skills Accidentally Get Stuck in Time

One of my goals after I caught up on my programming projects was to brush up on my web development skills, particularly CSS and Javascript. One of the things that tends to happen when you’ve been around for over a decade in a rapidly changing industry is that your skills get “stuck in time” at the point in time when you developed the systems that you’re currently using.

Our last big redesign for Detailed Image was our responsive redesign in 2013. Shortly before that, we upgraded our javascript to jQuery. At the time, the big challenge was browser support, particularly Internet Explorer. Since those launches, we’ve continued to add features over the years, but within the existing site structure that was put in place at that time. Which, by the way, is the right business move. Constantly refactoring code is a great way to waste time and create bugs that didn’t previously exist.

But, a lot has changed with both CSS and Javascript that I missed out on. CSS flexbox and grid are now vastly improved layout techniques. New versions of Javascript starting with ES6 were huge leaps forward. And most importantly, browser support isn’t such a big challenge anymore. Consolidation in the browser market along with auto-updating browsers and more advanced mobile browsers have led to more or less every browser working the same. This has huge implications on development, rendering jQuery and even frameworks like Bootstrap less of a requirement and more of an option. It’s now a reasonably logical choice to use vanilla CSS and Javascript.

My skills were inadvertently stuck in 2013. I guess that I sort of knew this, but I didn’t completely comprehend it until I picked up a few books and started diving into today’s standards. I would think that this is relatively common. Even if you want to keep up, you still need an outlet to practice those new skills. In my case, I’ve been working on a demo for a new project, and it’s been quite enjoyable to be able to apply the latest and greatest to what I’m working on.

2 comments on When Skills Accidentally Get Stuck in Time

  1. Chris Hynes says:

    IMO, jQuery and Bootstrap are still very relevant for power and conciseness. No longer for the cross browser side (although it is nice in some apps to still support IE11). But even with modern JS and DOM jQuery is still a lot simpler and clearer than straight JS. Same thing with Bootstrap layouts — even though you can flexbox or grid now, Bootstrap gives you a lot out of layouts and components out of the box that you’d have to build by hand. Web Components sound cool but are still aways away from being as simple and drop in as Bootstrap.

    Not to mention the enormous library of components built on jQuery and/or Bootstrap that often mean not rolling your own calendar component yet again.

    Some of this may be because I’m so familiar with jQuery/Bootstrap at this point. But every time I try to drop them, I find myself writing So. Much. Boilerplate. So I’ve currently settled on a hybrid based on jQuery/Bootstrap but where I can drop into straight JS or CSS at will where there is simplicity, power, or speed that I can better get that way.

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