Static HTML pages are better than "web apps".

Static HTML pages are more lightweight and destroy "web apps" in performance, and also have superior compatibility. I see pretty much no benefit in a "web app" over a static HTML page. "Web apps" appear like an overhyped trend that is empty inside.

During my web browsing experience, static HTML pages have consistently loaded faster and more reliably, since the browser is immediately served with content useful for consumption, whereas on JavaScript-based web "apps", the useful content comes in **last**, after the browser has worked its way through a pile of script.

For example, an average-sized Wikipedia article (30 KB wikitext) appears on screen in roughly two seconds, since MediaWiki uses static HTML. Everipedia, in comparison, is a ReactJS app. Guess how long that one needs. Upwards of three times as long!

Making a page JavaScript-based also makes it fragile. If an exception occurs in the JavaScript, the user might end up with a blank page or an endless splash screen, whereas static HTML-based pages still show useful content.

The legacy (2014-2020) HTML-based Twitter.com loaded a user profile in under four seconds. The new react-based web app not only takes twice as long, but sometimes fails to load at all, showing the error "Oops something went wrong! But don't fret – it's not your fault." to be displayed. This could not happen on a static HTML page.

The new JavaScript-based "polymer" YouTube front end that is default since August 2017 also loads slower. While the earlier HTML-based one was already playing the video, the new one has just reached its oh-so-fancy skeleton screen.

It would once have been unthinkable to have a website that does not work at all without JavaScript, but now, pretty much all popular social media sites are JavaScript-dependent. The last time one could view Twitter without JavaScript and tweet from devices with non-sophisticated browsers like Nintendo 3DS was December 2020, when they got rid of the lightweight "M2" mobile website.

Sometimes, web developers break a site in older browser versions by using a JavaScript feature that they do not support, or using a dependency (like Plyr.js) that breaks the site. Static HTML is immune against this failure.

Static HTML pages also let users maximize speed and battery life by deactivating JavaScript. This obviously will disable more sophisticated site features, but the core part, the text, is ready for consumption.

Not to mention, single-page sites and fancy animations can be implemented with JavaScript on top of static HTML, as GitHub.com and the 2018 Reddit redesign do, and Twitter's 2014-2020 desktop front end did.

From the beginning, JavaScript was intended as a tool to complement, not to replace HTML and CSS. It appears to me that the sole "benefit" of having a "web app" is that it appears slightly more "modern" and distinguished from classic web sites due to use of splash screens and lack of the browser's loading animation when navigating, while having oh-so-fancy loading animations and skeleton screens inside the website. Sorry, I prefer seeing content quickly over the app-like appearance of fancy loading screens.

Arguably, another supposed benefit of "web apps" is that there is no blank page when navigating between pages, but in pretty much all major browsers of the last five years, the last page observably remains on screen until the next navigated page is rendered sufficiently for viewing. This is also known as "paint holding".

On any site, whenever I am greeted with content, I feel pleased. Whenever I am greeted with a loading animation, splash screen, or skeleton screen, be it ever so fancy (e.g. fading in an out, moving gradient waves), I think "do they really believe they make me like their site more due to their fancy loading screens?! I am not here for the loading screens!".

To make a page dependent on JavaScript and sacrifice lots of performance for a slight visual benefit does not seem worthed it.


> "Yeah, but I'm building a webapp, not a website" - I hear this a lot and it isn't an excuse. I challenge you to define the difference between a webapp and a website that isn't just a vague list of best practices that "apps" are for some reason allowed to disregard. Jeremy Keith makes this point brilliantly.
> For example, is Wikipedia an app? What about when I edit an article? What about when I search for an article?
> Whether you label your web page as a "site", "app", "microsite", whatever, it doesn't make it exempt from accessibility, performance, browser support and so on.
> If you need to excuse yourself from progressive enhancement, you need a better excuse.

– Jake Archibald, 2013

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    thanks for the repost
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    @Crost i need a devRantRant, I want to rant more about the things I read on here then my day to day coding experience, maybe I should just leave this platform
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    You forgot bananas and pineapples.


    Perhaps you are not in the right place here. Best of luck finding a place that suits you.
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    webapp - client-side interactive
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    but i agree that the current "every page needs to be a pile of shit on top of JS pile of shit" trend is... a pile of shit.
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    Client-side interaction can be implemented through JavaScript on top of HTML. That is the original purpose of JavaScript.
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    @exerceo yes. that is why i said what i said.
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