Going stackless for your tech stack

jasonleow  •  27 Apr 2023   •    

I saw this funny meme yesterday but saw the seed of wisdom in there.

I was all in on Vue.js and Nuxt.js back when I got serious on coding. With Nuxt I got to make this very app I’m writing on. I love being able to build SaaS on frontend frameworks. I thought I can write less code, use battle-tested code that others used, and not need to reinvent the wheel all the time. I assumed with the added abstraction, I can ship fast.

But 3 years in, I’m feeling the burden. What I thought initially were the savings on time/effort were simply offloaded elsewhere. Less code to write but more tooling to install, more dependencies and points of failure, packages to maintain, configs to set, less cross-platform, transferrable code etc… To be honest, I’m tired of the convoluted and bloated ways to build software. Same reasons why I no longer use Wordpress. A lot of the performance and optimization benefits seems more geared towards enterprise teams, not a solo dev like me.

The funny flipside is, I’m rather enjoying using just plain vanilla Javascript now. I’ve been building Carrd plugins in plain JS, and because they need to be standalone in 1 code block, I’m essentially making a lot of single index.html micro-apps. And with just the holy trinity of plain HTML, CSS and Javascipt (and the occasional CDN script or nocode tool), it’s been so much fun. Zero build. No fuss whatsoever.

People say you should just use the tech you know best. I’m actually more familiar with Vue/Nuxt, but recently building more in plain vanilla Javascript and surprisingly enjoyed it more even though less familiar. So contemplating if possible to switch.

Is it possible to build a modern SaaS these days on just plain vanilla JS?

I asked this question on Twitter, and got some good examples from the indie hackers I follow:

Most of them end up creating their own resuable components, some rudimentary form of a framework. And with browser-native web components, you now can do that.

I also learned about “the stackless way”. It sounds really interesting, and checks off all the boxes!

Build websites without frameworks or build tools:

  • use custom elements (for modular HTML without frameworks)
  • use the in-browser package manager (for JavaScript packages without build tools)
  • match pages with files (to avoid routing and simplify architecture)
  • stick to standards (to avoid obsolescence and framework fatigue)

Maybe my next tech stack could be:

Frontend: Plain vanilla Javascript
Style: Plain CSS
Backend: Headless CMS like Strapi/Contentful or a nocode API generator for
Database: SQL/PostgresQL

What do you think? 🤔


Going stackless has about as much meaning to me as going braless.

therealbrandonwilson  •  27 Apr 2023, 12:51 pm

LOL. That’s a good one @therealbrandonwilson 😂

jasonleow  •  28 Apr 2023, 9:25 am

All these frameworks are too confusing for me to keep up with. By the time you have started learning one, a better version comes out. I had the same when learning Amazon AWS services at work. No sooner had I started training, they decided to switch to Azure. Maybe I am too old to be “agile”

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tao  •  28 Apr 2023, 2:04 pm

@tao Agree. That’s another reason why I’m thinking of stackless, just plain old Javascript. It’s always there, it’s almost always the same. And it works.

jasonleow  •  2 May 2023, 1:59 am