April 9, 2015

My favorite old webdev tools

The way we make websites has changed a lot since I started doing it, and it’s important to keep up-to-date on new tools and techniques. That said, I’ve been noticing that I’ve not spent as much time churning through new frameworks and whatnot as I used to – in fact, I’ve picked out a few tools that I’ve been using for years.

I’ve probably mentioned all of these before, but here they are in one place, so you can take in all my crusty old advice at once and download some unexciting, but solid, tools.


I’m not in my 20s anymore, dammit, and I can’t be learning a new static site generator every week. Middleman is feature-complete and generates a static HTML site in a totally adequate way, including pre-processing SASS/HAML etc.

It’s a great way to make a prototype, or provide the raw source material for kioo or enlive, my two favorite libraries for avoiding templating.


Skeleton is a css framework with a focus on being just enough to help you prototype fast without being so rigid as to make every site come out looking like half-assed clones (I’m perfectly capable of producing same-y designs all by myself myself). All the same, I was very happy to see that Skeleton recently got an update – those button styles were starting to look a bit dated, and the sixteen-column thing never seemed to work out right. I know it’s cliche, but sometimes I want to make three columns, dammit! Now with fancy buttons and twelve columns, it’s just the thing to kick-start your next mostly-from-scratch site (perhaps with Middleman!)


I know all the kids these days are jumping all over evented, single-threaded javascript applications, but when I need a high-performance API server or something, I turn to Clojure because the JVM does a mighty fine job of that sort of business and it makes me feel smart when I write code in Lisp.

On the other hand, when I don’t need performance, which is usually, I can crank out a little site with Flask in minutes flat. It’s been stable for a long time, and it’s always been a well-considered microframework. It also has a lot of extensions for common tasks, which is handy.


When my problem is just to CRUDdy to ignore the obvious benefits of an all-in-one framework, Django is my go-to. It’s still actively developed too, and each new release is bringing solid, if not mindblowing, advances. The admin interface especially makes Django the obvious choice for many applications.

That’s my short list. Tell me, what would you be blogging about if you didn’t have any new tools to mention?