Accessibility, Tech, Web

Front-End (Over)Engineering

Everything Should Be Made as Simple as Possible, But Not Simpler - Albert Einstein

There is a great story about NASA’s Space Pen. Stop me if you have heard this one…

Supposedly, NASA spent a whole bunch of money and time developing a pen that astronauts could use upside down and in anti-gravity settings. The result was the Fisher Zero Gravity Pen. Real fancy stuff.

Of course, the very resourceful Russian’s on the other side of the world developed a much simpler solution: A pencil!

It turns out that this story is not true, but the moral is still worth noting. Keep it simple!

Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I find that as Front-End Engineers, we often create problems for ourselves in the process of trying to push the browser past it’s limits then come up with over-the-top ways to solve them. We are really good at complicating everything, hence the title I use a lot; Front-end (Over)Engineers. Maybe this cycle of breaking and fixing is how we stay relevant?

I think Facebook has had, in my opinion, a history of over-engineering their products. I remember a long time ago when their senior developers presented their groundbreaking performance improvements on the main Facebook timeline. Their big reveal was doing away with custom elements and using native HTML input elements like