Software and Other Mysteries

On code and productivity with a dash of unicorn dust.

The Greatness of Boring

New is always better, I often say, half-jokingly. There’s a heart of truth to it. I enjoy unboxing a new phone or, most recently, getting our first brand new car at the dealership. There’s a satisfaction in the exploration of newness and, hopefully, an element of happy surprise.

New is always better used to be less of a joke. Perhaps it’s because there are fewer surprises these days. That third camera in your iPhone? It’s obviously not as exciting as when your phone got its first camera. Or perhaps it’s because I’m older. Jaded, even?

I think React was the last time I felt genuinely excited about a new technology. It was late 2013 and React was only a few months old. There was no Redux, only vague mentions of something called Flux and top-down data flow. I enjoyed exploring the ideas and discussions that took place, both in the React community but also in the JavaScript community as a whole.

As it happens, six years later, I still use React. It’s less exciting these days. I try to keep tabs on what’s happening in the community and the ideas that are being explored. Not because I’m waiting to jump on The Next Big Thing, but simply because I want understand how future developments will affect what we’re doing today.

The tech stack I’m currently working with, besides React and JS, is Ruby on Rails running on Heroku with a Postgres database and a Redis store. There’s no TypeScript. No Cassandra. No Kubernetes. No Go.

By all means, it’s not PHP 3 and Mootools or, God forbid, Java. (That last part may or may not have been a joke.) But it’s not really… shiny.

You know what it is, though? It’s dependable. It’s well documented. It’s easy to use.

As someone who once spent two weeks debugging a concurrency issue with a custom built Java SAML2 authentication module in a custom built Java HTTP server, I’ve come to appreciate dependability, good documentation and ease of use. (Also, I realize why I may or may not have joked about Java.)

I’m gonna steal a quote from my friend @bjoreman, but I figure it’s okay, since he stole it from Andy Hunt. Just let this mother of dragons sink in, and enjoy the rest of your day:

Boring has its place.