How I Build MVPs in Just a Few Hours in 2020

How I Build MVPs in Just a Few Hours in 2020

I have been a fulltime web developer for the last five years, and have survived every era of the web. I have worked solely on DOD projects that oftentimes do not allow for the use of any third-party code.

Where I Come From

I have been a fulltime web developer for the last five years, and have survived every era of the web. I have worked solely on DOD projects that oftentimes do not allow for the use of any third-party code. This has forced me to write fully featured and reactive user interfaces in pure JavaScript, often in a few weeks, and before the introduction of the query selector or classes.

Enter React

I have been lucky enough for the past two years to work on building out a massive multi-application suite of tools that used React and Mobx rather than pure JavaScript. Most of our user interface woes were solved, though building a lean and efficient architecture around React can get pretty complex, not to mention all of the configuration scripts that go into combining multiple libraries, etc.

While React got us 90% of the way there, I still found myself feeling fatigued by all the boilerplate around creating react components, not to mention the fact react switched to hooks after we were 80% done building a massive project using a class-based architecture.

It all starts with an MVP

For the last five years I have always made software in my spare time, not to profit from it, but to stay current with development trends that I don’t get to experience in my day to day development. Though for the last two years I stopped doing weekend projects entirely, I felt burnt out and was even considering switching careers. Everything has changed in the last few months though.

The major reason I stopped making the little projects that reminded me that I love development was I generally want to have an MVP complete at the end of a weekend. I very much subscribe to the idea that you want to launch a simple application that does one thing well, and you want to launch it fast.

I don’t think anyone has the time or sanity to spend months coding a piece of software they thought was an amazing idea, but does nothing for the target audience they are pitching it to.

I also wanted to experiment with new frameworks and tools while I built these apps quickly, however with the current JavaScript landscape I knew usually one full day of that weekend would be spent just configuring a build setup I wouldn’t hate long term. I know most frameworks have a CLI to handle this boilerplate code, but from my experience, they tend to build giant dependency infested projects that are hard to work with when you want to go off the beaten path.

Finally, after I would get everything configured, the excitement I had for the app idea was usually gone, and now I had one less day to make it happen.

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