Saturday, April 6, 2019

eric was right - sometimes declarative rendering is better

I had a great tech manager Eric last year. He shared some of my inexperience with React and Redux and the concepts that underlie them, but he attacked the learning curve with gusto.

He told me how he made a learning/side project for a trello-like system, and for grins he implemented it with React (or maybe one of those Build Your Own Baby React systems) and then with more traditional methods. And he said, the declarative rendering system was miles ahead in speed and ease of use.

I didn't believe him.

Woe is me!

For my Porchfests side project, I needed to redo the Hourtron - as you can see with the (fairly simplistic but clean) 2015 prototype for it, the idea is you have a bunch of rows representing porches, and columns that represent performance times, and then you can drag and drop bands unto performance times / locations.

So for the first real implementation (2015-2018), I had it save all the performances on the page (aka "gigs") at once as a giant blob of JSON. I wanted to better support one band having multiple gigs, as well as be a bit more robust and be able to save each gig as it was set - I did a from-scratch rewrite (also figuring I was too pure of heart for JQuery, which was ok-ish for the drag and drop but was weirdly infeasible for the Ajax POST)

It was harder than it looked. In particular, these DOM blocks I had sometimes representing an unplaced band, sometimes showing a band at its gig - the IDs for gigs were server generated, and linking that gig id with the block in such a way that moving the gig time or place didn't generate a duplicate gig, was way tougher than I expected, and I realized the declarative method of saying "this bit of memory represents state, and the DOM can just reflect that as quickly as possible would have been great"... also the jQuery-free version of drag and drop reminded me that the "ghost" I use to show where a band will be dropped could still be handled as plain old javascript, so kind of a hybrid where the main block schedule was React-or-similar but the drag and drop was separate would have been fine.

Ah well, live and learn. I need to rethink my side project setup... I still like renting a cheap VPS and putting everything there, but I need to build up tools so that I can use tech that plays better with some kind of build system, rather than being spoiled by the "I save the raw file, reload, and run". Stuff with watchers and what not can get that feel pretty speedily, tbh, and then I have more options about the babel-ization and what not I use.

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