Changelog News – Episode #72

Was Jamstack a zero interest rate phenomenon?

+ don't make bad graphs, Laravel Pulse, long term refactors & libraries over services

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Zach Leatherman on the tension and future of the Jamstack community, Chenxin Li helps you avoid 13 bad practices in data visualization, Laravel Pulse is coming real soon, Max Chernyak develops a new way to accomplish long term refactors & Spencer Baugh makes the case for more libraries and less services in our software stacks.

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Play the audio to listen along while you enjoy the transcript. 🎧

What up, nerds? I’m Jerod and this is Changelog News for the week of Monday, November 27th, 2023.

Our 6th annual state of the “log” episode is right around the corner and we need your help to make it extra special!

Leave us a voice message with your favorite moments, guests, topics, and/or episodes from the past year. Or anything else that’s on your mind… If your audio is used on the show, we’ll hook you up with a free Changelog t-shirt!

Submit yours at changelog.fm/sotl once again that’s changelog.fm/sotl (short for state of the log)

Ok, let’s get into the news.

11ty creator (and former Netlify employee) Zach Leatherman writes about the tension and future of Jamstack:

“Some stakeholders and detractors have declared the Jamstack “dead,” in part evidenced by the recent shuttering of the Jamstack Discord, the discontinuation of Jamstack Conf (as Netlify pivots toward the marketing term Composable and a new conference under that name), and the end of the Jamstack Community Survey.”

Netlify coined the term, but it seems pretty clear that they are done with it. Where does that leave everyone else who is keen on building websites stacked with Jam? Zach thinks a post-Netlify Jamstack opens up opportunities to refocus the definition and strengthen the community with a broader group of leaders and stakeholders.

I agree that a refocus is necessary. The term had been loosened to the point of meaning… I don’t know what.

If you agree with Zach and want to partake in the future of this once-thriving (but perhaps propped up by ZIRP-enabled marketing dollars) community, join them by filling out the survey on thefutureofjamstack.org

‘Friends don’t let friends make bad graphs’ is an opinionated essay by Chenxin Li, laying out 13 bad practices in data visualization and why good friends help their friends avoid these easy-to-make graphing foibles.

If you’ve ever made a pie chart, or used a bar plot for mean separation, violin plots for small sample sizes, bidirectional color scales for unidirectional data, or have NO idea what any of those things are…

You’ll definitely want to skim through Li’s examples and explanations.

Laravel creator Taylor Otwell recently teased a new admin tool that is coming soon to GitHub: “Pulse delivers at-a-glance insights into your production application’s performance and usage. Track down slow jobs and endpoints, find your most active users, and more.”

This very much reminds me of Phoenix LiveDashboard, but extra spit-polished and perhaps more useful out of the box. The idea was born when Otwell & Co were frustrated when they couldn’t quickly identify individual users that were overloading their queues on Forge. Then, they riffed on the idea from there.

Pulse will be open source, of course, and officially the Laravel team’s 25th first-party package.

It’s now time for sponsored new…. wait, there’s no sponsor this week?! That’s weird…

Podcast and newsletter sponsorships are an excellent way to bring awareness to your company and the awesome work you’re doing. And who better to partner with? Our audience is brimming with forward-looking, influential, smart people. Like yourself. (see what I did there?)

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Max Chernyak has a theory that “long refactors get a bad rap because most of them take far longer than we expect. The length leads to stress, an awkward codebase, a confused team, and often no end in sight.”

A few years ago, he began trying a method where he would prepare an intentional long term refactor instead. The results were surprisingly positive.

“Long-term refactors involve the whole team from the beginning, which is one of their most powerful aspects. So far, I’ve participated in ~10 big refactors using this method across 2 companies with at least 3 different teams, and I’ve yet to see it go wrong.”

He details the approach (and its drawbacks) so you can try it for yourself (with eyes wide open), but to start Max thinks you will need:

  1. An experienced software engineer with a vision for the refactor
  2. A team of software engineers at various levels of expertise
  3. An internal knowledge base
  4. Less than ~5-10 long term refactors already in progress

Spencer Baugh makes the case for more libraries and less services in our software stacks.

A service has constant administration costs which are paid by the service provider. A library instead moves these costs to the users of the library. For any developer with limited resources, this means a library (where viable) can provide the same functionality to the user, at a lower cost to the developer than a service.

By library he means any software that can be run by the user (shared objects, modules, servers, command line utilities, etc). By service he means any software which the user can’t run on their own.

Spencer’s stance harmonizes with what Justin Searls and I discussed on the It dependencies episode of Changelog & Friends.

Self-reliance is a virtue. Libraries afford it, services don’t.

That’s the news for now, but do scan the companion newsletter for more stories such as finding a job as a software engineer in 2023, the best cities for techies in 2024, and the case putting all your dependencies, like all of them, in version control.

If you aren’t yet receiving our companion newsletter: fix that bug by popping your email address in at changelog.com/news

We have some great pods coming up this week! Our anthology episode from KubeCon featuring Dagger, TalosOS & SuperOrbital. Daniel & Chris summarize & sound-off on last week’s OpenAI fiasco on Practical AI, and Gergely Orosz is back for his his annual check-in on the state of the tech industry.

Have a great week, share Changelog News with your friends who might dig it, and I’ll talk to you again real soon.

Changelog

Our transcripts are open source on GitHub. Improvements are welcome. 💚

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