Framework fatigue

My personal belief is that coding frameworks are natural and can’t be avoided. Especially as projects mature and grow in size. They start as boilerplate code, best practices, and style guides. Then code is refactored into more manageable components and a framework emerges. That framework is used across many different projects and inherits use-cases that may not be relevant to your project and can be seen as bloat.  Bloat leads to performance implications which then leads to considering a different framework or writing your own.

Migrating to a different framework can be extensive and for front end developers happen more often than the backend. I loathe rewrites and find them to be an anti-pattern. However there are  justified reasons for making them.

There comes a time when technical debt is so great it justifies a major change. For frameworks this means it is easier to migrate to a new framework than address the technical debt you have with the existing framework. In my experience the technical debt that drives this is less performance and more security or maintainability.

Up to this year I would have never thought on-boarding new developers could drive a framework change. I was in the camp a basic Computer Science degree as a solid foundation was enough. However majority of mastering a framework is less learning the terminology/usage and more understanding the community.  Many of the frameworks today you just can’t buy a book. You need to learn by engaging the community.

Whenever you have or build top talent they always have one foot out the door. Finding a new developer takes time and requires resources from the team to vet the right candidate. Then they need to up-skill with assistance from the team. Finding and on-boarding a new developer can have a significant impact on the delivery schedule. Aligning some of the technologies/frameworks with talent in the marketplace reduces this overhead. This is probably the most frustrating driver of change. This should always be done with a cost/benefit analysis and not simply following the framework du jour.

So how do we address framework fatigue. On one hand you could choose a framework that you believe will be victorious and stick with it as long as you can. You could also manage your own framework and be responsible for everything. However I am not a betting man and don’t have the resources to keep up with every security edge-case. I would rather accept embrace change. So I externalize and break down logic as much as possible.  Additional levels of abstraction impact performance so choose wisely. Lastly spend some time between retrospectives and planning sessions to perform gap analysis between what you are doing and where the frameworks are going. If you are using Angular 1.x is the direction Angular 2 aligned with your interest? Is there another framework with an active community better suited for your needs.

Ultimately the story of living with frameworks is about living with change, choice, and constant revalidation of direction and purpose.

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