March 15, 2022
Lately I’ve been having to deal with the more infrastructural side of web development. That means I’ve been configuring servers, setting up deployment pipelines and considering which database to use for what.
There are so many choices to make, which is a luxury, as there are many new technologies doing ever more advanced things, yet it does make things incredibly dense. You really have to purposefully fight through the fog of marketing messages, technical documentation and incredibly helpful blog posts that often describe your use-case… but not quite.
Still, I can’t say enough good things about random blog posts by fellow developers generously sharing their hiccups, solutions and experiments. They saved me more than once.
Being in the infrastructural zone, not actively working on the product, is however also relaxing. There is something very rewarding about working on the foundation. Or rather not even the foundation, but maybe more so the context of things.
Having a great context highly influences what you can make inside of that context. Not just in the positive. I’ve worked with infrastructure that was brittle and inflexible, which made building certain features a challenge.
On the other hand being able to work with clean, flexible and stable infrastructure opens up the imagination. It’s like having well setup guitar, perfectly tuned and plugged into a great amp. Or if you’re not into guitars, like having a crispy warm fireplace with a big comfy chair next to it, which you can land in to do some literature research.
The point is, is that great context is important. It inspires.
So fighting through the dense forest of technical infrastructure is a worthwile thing to me. It assures that I can eventually build well. However, it doesn’t assure that I will build, nor does it ensure that I will build well.
The danger of only focusing on buying more tools and never doing the actual work is well-documented. Many aspiring musicians have turned into gear collectors. And many great ideas never materialized because the developer now lives in setup purgatory.
Especially in web development getting the right setup can be a cruel joke. One you can’t necessarily buy your way out of. It has sparked no-code, just-code and zero-config initiatives. Basically getting rid of the whole setup song and dance so you can truly focus on the thing you truly want to make.
It’s a lofty and great goal to be working on, and I have benefited from other people’s hard infrastructural work more than once. Still, I do encourage everyone to now and then dive into the context of things. I know it’s a dangerous place you can easily get stuck in. It has cost many people great projects, and other people a lot of money.
Yet, it can also give you a wholly new perspective on your craft and your ideas.