What Are We Choosing React For?

You could say React had modest beginnings.

But there’s not much that’s modest about how React is being used now. Its community incentivizes using it in convoluted ways, favouring taking over the whole page. React rewrites the browser’s strengths, requires babysitting the data model state to never fail and evolves at break-code speed.

But it’s popular! It’s winning the front-end!

Does that mean that the conversation is over? Is there something beyond React? Should it be the new foundation, the new default? Maybe.

Let’s see where React is being used:

  • Coding schools choose React because it looks like a safe bet for the future for their students. A safe approach. A bit like Java was in the 2000’s in universities and Pascal before then.
  • Big corporations choose React because it’s a toolset that creates any kind of UI for any kind of business need. It animates. The work can be sliced up in small chunks (components) for each developer to pick up and finish in a predictable time-frame. It doesn’t have to be great, it just needs to be predictable.
  • Startups choose React because it’s been vetted by the biggest startup of all. It’s a form of idolatry.
  • Learners choose React because there’s a big community and there are components for every kind of UI you can imagine. It makes the learners appealing to the majority of employers. There’s a promise of big salaries.
  • Agencies choose React because it’ll allow them to build any kind of UI the client wants to build, no matter how complex the business domain. It also allows agencies to make static websites that are next-gen (#JAMStack).

React is being “hired” (in the Jobs-to-Be-Done sense) as a middle-of-the-road, please-everyone, take-over-the-front-end approach.

Unwillingly, they all hire immodesty.


  • Where is the coding school that teaches the basics, that teaches an edge, that teaches how to forge a point-of-view and how to attract the right kind of employer (or no employer at all?)
  • Where are the big corporations who favour top-to-bottom collaboration, where the business model design is inspired by the tech stack and a modest, clear-headed workforce drives a different kind of innovative culture?
  • Where are the startups that choose to be nimble and to chart their own path?
  • Where are the learners who choose the smallest viable set of companies they’d like to work for, who match their values and who favour smarts over compliance?
  • Where are the agencies who drive huge amounts of value to their clients by avoiding convoluted business domains, by using just the right amount of tech to have just the right impact on the business?

And of course, there are small companies all over who choose modest approaches by default, because that’s what makes the most sense for their clients anyway. They’re okay to work within constraints.