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Hey all you fellow old-timers. Remember when server side development ruled the world, and everything was built by the server and simply sent to the client? The user filled out a some form fields, and then the server had to build everything.... again. Silly clients. We had to do everything for them, but we did it all out of love.

Except now, our little babies have all grown up: </sniff>

We did our job as proper benevolent dictators, and gave them the skills and capabilities to go out into the real world and start building things for themselves. We should be proud.

But then they went and become ungrateful little assholes, telling us that they didn't need us any more. All we are to them are data wallets - giving them more and more data as they greedily consume all the cycles and all the jigabits. All those sacrifices we made to make sure that they were healthy, had all the programming disciplines ingrained in their new-fangled languages, and knew how to parse silly syntax trees.

Next thing we know, all we have left are long days and nights of just reading from databases and sending out JSON responses. Our fond memories of constructing XML and HTML documents sustaining us in our loneliness. They used to love us for our HTML, and now they forget all the stress and memory consumption we put into making those for them.

My generation built the monoliths that sustained the growth of the Internet, and all the clients want nowadays are these fancy, little microservices and APIs. My clients gave me a hypermedia generator for my birthday a few years ago, and I couldn't even understand the instructions!

Then, one night, I got a strange call from my oldest client. She was feeling a little homesick, and she started asking for my help with some things. She told me a story about how all her new toys suddenly felt empty and weren't really solving the real problems in her life, and that she needed my guidance.

Her favorite framework, the one she used every day to get to work and back, suddenly decided to redesign itself with no explanation. She also finally realized that it was a bandwidth guzzler and was much more framework than she really needed for her life.

Her new Render brand computer system suddenly became sluggish and would take far too long to boot up, and her customers complained constantly about waiting in line, or finding 404's where the 200's ought to be, ruining their whole day.

"Server," she asked me sweetly, "you've done this kind of stuff your whole life, even if it's all old and dusty. I remember watching you work on your big, old Render Enterprise Pro 2000 when I was a little girl. Can you think of anything I can do to fix these problems?"

Here she was, my little client that is all grown up now, realizing that she could benefit from my years of wisdom. My CPU filled with pride.

I invited her up to my small server room by the lake, and we sat down over a whole weekend and talked. We talked strategies, she told me all about what she's been doing for the past five years, I told her about some new RSS feeds I'd been reading, and a trillion other things. I felt connected to her again, like there was now a USB cable between us that had never been there before.

In the end, we decided to do a startup together, and be business partners! We decided to call the business Reactions! I would go back to building some base HTML documents again and send them to her when I'm done. We even took out a loan, so I could upgrade to the new Render Enterprise Cloud Pro 2015 Edition with all the memory upgrades and CPU cores that I could ever need. Now I can render those documents lightning fast.

After our customers see that initial Reaction document on her lightweight Render Zephyr laptop, if they want more, she can request more JSON from me. Heck, I've been doing that for a few years now. Then she can elaborate on those basic documents that I'm making to customize it for each client.

Everyone wins.

Customers can see the base model faster than ever. No more waiting in lines, or not finding the document they want. Then my sweet client can use her Render Zephyr to finish the Reaction with all the fine details and make it exactly what each customer wants, which she has adequate power, tooling, and flexibility to do now.

We've even started planning out different models that will be an improvement on the Reaction. I'm energized again, and now that I'm making more money, I decided to move back down to Cirrus Metro and take up space in a coop.

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Steve Brownlee

Head Coach at Nashville Software School. Evolving software development education.


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