Why Everybody Needs a Framework

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The prevalent advice on how to use React today is to use a framework: either to start with one or to incrementally adopt one. This deep-dive talk will explore why, and how to go about this with live code examples.

Tejas Kumar
Tejas Kumar
39 min
20 Oct, 2023

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Video Summary and Transcription

Today's Talk explores the value of using frameworks in software development, specifically focusing on React and its impact on web development. The Talk delves into the benefits of frameworks, such as solving routing and data fetching challenges, handling edge cases, and providing server-side rendering. It also introduces the concept of server components and their role in server-side rendering. The Talk highlights the advantages of soft navigation and the seamless communication between client and server. Overall, frameworks offer valuable functionality that enhances productivity and addresses common development challenges.

Available in Español

1. Introduction to Frameworks

Short description:

Today we're here to talk about why everybody needs to use a framework. React has revolutionized the way we build on the web. Andrew Clark from the React team on Vercel posted that if you use React, you should be using a React framework. A framework is essentially a set of opinions that help you accelerate your development workflows.

Hi! How are we? OK, I'll work with it. It's the last talk of the day. You know, fun fact, I have 25 minutes. It's on 16 minutes. I have 20 minutes, right? But it's the last talk, so technically, I have all the minutes. Cause the after-party from here is at 7. But anyway, I'll try and be respectful of your time. The organizer is looking at me here like, hey, hey, now.

I'm Tejas. That's pronounced, like, contagious. I can say that now cause the lockdowns, for the most part, are over. And I've had the privilege of working in some capacity, either as a consultant or as an employee at a number of different tech companies across my career. And it's an opportunity that I'm really thankful for. And through it, I get to experience a bunch of different things, right? Today, I run a small but effective developer relations agency where we support developer tools, developer-oriented companies, communicate, get their message across, and really refine that developer experience, okay? But that's not what we're here to talk about today. Today we're here to talk about why everybody needs to use a framework. And you might be reading this and going, what does that even mean? Does everybody need to use a framework? Ideally, we clarify some of those things today. I just need to preface. I'm not... I don't work on React. I've been working with React since 2013, 2014, and I deeply love it. I have the privilege of knowing some of the team. And the work they do is inspiring and is intellectual and solves real world problems with high abstractions that just get the job done and make you, guys, the hero. So if we can hear it for the team. I would really... Yeah. Yeah. It has... I think it's an understatement to say that React has revolutionized the way we build on the web. And I think it's worth acknowledging.

So why does everybody need to use a framework? Where does this even come from? Earlier on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, Andrew Clark from the React team on Vercel posted this in January. He said, if you use React, you should be using a React framework. If your existing app doesn't use a framework, you should incrementally migrate to one. If you're creating a new React project, you should use a framework from the beginning. Some of you might be thinking, but isn't React a framework? Is React a library or framework? We're not doing that today. Let's go on social media and fight. No. But React by framework, what Andrew is referring to is something like Next.js or ReMix, et cetera. And I love this. I use framework. Are any of you using frameworks here in production? Okay, almost everybody. For those of you not, let's talk about why. And this is what I want to do today. This is great, but I want to understand the mechanism that leads us to arrive at that conclusion. Like, why does one say this? And to understand the mechanism, you have to answer the question, okay, what even is a framework? And a framework is essentially a set of opinions. It's a frame within which you work, literally. It gives you opinions around routing, around data fetching, around where do you render the server or the client somewhere in between. And these opinions are handled for you so that you can, you can what? You can build your product with velocity. You don't have to solve these problems individually. So it's the opinions that help you accelerate your development workflows, okay? If we refine that a little bit, what do frameworks do? What do frameworks do? Well, a lot of them have overlap. This is maybe not every framework, but Next JS, Remix.

2. Frameworks and Demo

Short description:

They solve routing on both the client and server side. Frameworks make data fetching easier and more efficient. They also handle edge cases that we may overlook. Let's dive into a demo that showcases server-side rendering and data fetching. We'll explore a full stack application and fill a database interactively. The app is a jokes app that queries a database and renders jokes on both the client and server side. We'll walk through the code and play with the app.

They'll do server side rendering. How many of you server side rendering in production? Okay. Almost everybody who uses a framework, great. They solve routing but not just on the client side. On the server side as well. Isomorphic routing. And this is useful for a number of reasons because previously back when we were doing only client side stuff, we used to send 404's. I don't know if you all remember this. We used to send 404 status codes from the server side and then a 404 HTML page would pick up on the client side and give you an app. But this is fundamentally a lie from client to server, okay? And frameworks solve for that.

Number three, data fetching is tremendously easier with frameworks. If I ask you, where's the best place and when is the best time to fetch data in your React app? What would you tell me? Would you tell me that I use effect and I fetch inside use effect and then I set state? That's a really common pattern but that's a problematic pattern because it leads to what? It leads to, I see you, this is React Advanced. We're not in kindergarten here, right? It leads to network waterfalls. It leads to slow things. You've got to render first, that takes some time. It's CPU bound and then you've got to fetch and then you've got to render and it's not fast, it's not performant and your user experience suffers. So frameworks solve a lot of these problems for us and more. In fact, they solve all the edge cases that we probably miss because they're built by very large communities who run into problems that we may have next year today. OK.

So that's the theory of it but I'm already bored with my slides and I figure we just do a little demo for that. This is a demo that solves for those things. It solves for rendering on the server side, it solves for data fetching, etc. It's kind of interactive and it's the end of the day, let's just play. Since we're talking about server rendering and data fetching, we need a full stack application. We need a frontend, we need a backend. There's plenty of ready to go backends. If you need a quick API, there's dog.ceo where you can query a bunch of dogs. Since we're in London, I was on the search for a good backend. I happened to find a stealth London based start up that has been very quiet but has been building something really cool. I was so compelled, I had dinner with the founders last night. I was compelled let's just put it in my presentation and show you all this. I have permission for this but I want to just fill out the full stack of the stack. This is the application we have, so if we go to the browser, if we go to the code, OK. So it's a jokes app. It says no jokes. I don't know if you can read that, it's intentionally small but it's essentially going to query a database where jokes live and render them. Client side first, then server side and we'll do that together. But we need to fill this database somehow. Let me walk you through the code a little bit and then we'll fill it interactively. OK. It's the end of the day so let's play a bit. If we look at the code, what do we have? We have a React app here. Is that font size OK? Can you see in the back? Nobody cares? Great. OK. Let's... Boom! There we go. So, very basic React app. We're hydrating the document with a layout and if we have a joke ID, it's an answer, otherwise it's a question. It's a question answer type of joke, right? Like why did the chicken cross the road? Because there was hydration, I don't know. Whatever.

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