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George Spanos

Trying out Vue/Nuxt - Impressions on my first meta-framework

/ 5 min read

Working with Angular

I come from a background of extensive development of Enterprise Applications with Angular. I’ve worked with Rx quite a lot and have been a fan of Event Modeling for quite some time. This is why I love the Browser as a platform to develop.

I also do not have any experience in meta-frameworks. To this day, I do not exactly understand where to draw the line between a full-stack framework and a meta-framework.

Exploring Alternatives

I feel Angular is too complex for its own good. I think designing Front Ends reactively is extremely helpful, but it’s a choice you have to consciously make and not abide by because your tool says so.

I like the simplicity and straightforwardness of other frameworks like React and Solid.

I strongly believe that the Angular team is moving the framework to a certainly better spot but I’m simply too fed up personally. I feel it’s time to explore something new and while I love exploring server-side technologies as well - Go Gophers - I just cannot feel content unless I’m trying to paint pixels on a screen.

But why not React?

I’ve been using and teaching about React for more than three years I still don’t feel React is straightforward.

I’ve been seeing huge question marks above people’s heads whenever I try to explain to them what happens and how React works and it’s always quite frustrating. One of my most influential criteria on whether I’m going to spend time on a tool is how easily I can reason about it with people who are not familiar with it.

I’ve been a teacher for about 10 years and I learned to trust my ability to tell the difference when I either:

  1. Don’t explain something well because I lack familiarity with it and whether
  2. Something is hard to explain because it’s complex.

I feel that both Angular and React are too complex for their good and I’d much rather prefer to work with more intuitive tooling that’s closer to the web platform.

”People refer to Vue as simpler so I might as well give it a try”, I thought. After all, people who write Vue very rarely whine about it.

How to learn anything new

Grabbing this chance, I’m going to briefly go over my pattern for learning anything new for the last couple of years is the following:

  1. Kickstart your journey with videos. Spend 2-3 days consuming popular content, googling and chat-GPTing on the tool. See how you feel about it.
  2. Find some kind of “fundamentals” course. “Fundamentals” courses are an idea that I first stumbled upon on Pluralsight. When putting the word “fundamentals” in the title, they usually mean: “Here’s a concise end-to-end description of the tool in about 6-8 hours on average.
  3. And lastly the most important one - go through the whole of the documentation. Good tools might have good documentation. Great tools always have great documentation. It’s part of what makes the great.

I can’t stress how much the last point has helped me. I’ve ended up saving tens if not hundreds of hours simply because I took the time to read everything the authors had to say about their tool, before jumping into creating any kind of app. Yes, you always need to create something with a new tool to grasp it but please, PLEASE, go through their documentation at least once. Go through all of it.

Study Results

I ended up reading enough that I got the Vue Developer Certificate just by reading the Docs and creating 2 sample apps in 3 days. After that, I pushed through to the Mastering Nuxt course. I’m quite proud of myself and feel I’ve learned useful stuff as well.

What is a meta-framework after all?

To be frank, I’m still not 100% sure. I’m not sure what goes to a dedicated backend service and what could live at the backend layer of a meta-framework. My understanding is that a meta-framework is here to help the browser render stuff more efficiently. Rendering appropriate data in efficient ways is still very much the primary responsibility of a meta-framework.

For example:

Let’s assume that a page requires a user list before rendering content. In a Single-Page Application environment, you would typically implement guards and custom loaders just so you fetch the data via client-side JavaScript. In a meta-framework environment, you fetch your user list and then populate the HTML. Simple, traditional web behavior.

Thoughts and feelings about Vue and Nuxt

Even though I’m fairly new to this toolset, I have to say I already feel rejuvenated. I feel that I’m not that far from Native DOM while having the ease of use of the component-based frameworks without the complexity of the tooling.

As a developer, I like my pickaxes and shovels. I very much enjoy working with more primitive tools, building up my productivity toolkit for each project and then increasing my development velocity. ES6 has come a long way but it’s still quite cumbersome to create complex component-based UIs vanilla. I try for at least one project per year, and it’s still not a pleasant experience for me.

So at the end of the day, I have to give credit where credit is due. You can do amazing stuff with Nuxt (as well as Next I’m going to guess) in extremely efficient ways when compared to a traditional CRUD backend with a SPA project.

The developer experience is simply amazing to the point in which I believe people will deliver more meaningful software with those tools. And I’m not saying this lightly.

While I don’t agree with all that Theo says, I think there’s merit to his thesis when he speaks about modern tools, platforms and developer productivity.

George Spanos,

Moby IT