Jim Nielsen, Making a Website is for Everyone:
The web’s low barrier to entry led me to a career that has been a boon for my life. I hope it can do the same for others.
At some point I learned that you could make the computer do more and persist state by using a magical technology called “PHP”, which was one click away through the venerable XAMPP. You could even drag and drop those files to a free shared host and get your website online in about as long as it took you to FTP the files over ADSL.
Today getting a website up on the web involves arcane incantations just to set up a development environment on your local machine, making a backend in a trendy language of your choice, making a frontend, connecting those two with an API and jamming it onto a cloud service for a dozen bucks a month.
A friend of mine who is a bit older than me is yet to find their first job but they are deeply convinced no one would hire them if they do not know how to set up a Kubernetes cluster. I’ve witnessed first hand students in a university being taught Docker before writing a single line of code themselves.
There is a growing group of people who hold tightly onto their gRPCs and Protobufs and microservices in monorepos and service meshes and Helm charts and sprawling frontend frameworks and 5000€ monthly AWS invoices and get very defensive when you bring this up. They will tell you that it’s no longer the early 2000s, that technology now is more complex, that all of their complexity is a necessity and that MongoDB is web scale. Maybe they have not been shown an alternative, or maybe they have been taught that this is a “best practice” and that all other solutions are unprofessional and low effort.
Sure, occasionally such complexity is indeed necessary. But for the vast majority of use cases, it really should not have to be like that. And it especially should not be like that for our soon-to-be co-workers who are just starting on their journey.
The barrier to entry has been creeping up steadily, and it’s getting worse faster.
It is difficult to change the world on your own. But maybe nudging it a little bit is not all that hard. Next time you automatically reach out for that shiny new tech and increase the barrier to entry ever so slightly, think back to the time you started out with a small HTML page that you copy-pasted over to a free web host. And try to make it simpler for the ones who are trying to do that right now.