- Glenn Reyes emphasized the importance of keeping the API surface area of UI components minimal.
- It is crucial to design UI components that naturally guide users toward common and effective usage paths.
- These benefits contribute to improved type safety, early error detection, and enhanced developer tooling.
Building user interfaces (UIs) that strike the right balance between ease of use and maintainability is a constant challenge in today’s software development landscape. Glenn Reyes, a renowned expert in UI development, shared insights on this topic at NDC Oslo 2023.
The challenge of building robust UIs
Scaling a UI project without sacrificing simplicity and robustness is a formidable task. As a project grows in complexity, maintaining a user-friendly interface becomes increasingly challenging. Glenn Reyes emphasized the importance of keeping the API surface area of UI components minimal. This not only reduces the likelihood of errors but also makes components more manageable and user-friendly for engineering teams.
To achieve this, it is crucial to design UI components that naturally guide users toward common and effective usage paths. The goal is to make the standard usage paths intuitive and the workarounds less appealing, ensuring that components are employed correctly and efficiently.
Reyes suggested that utilizing tools like Prettier and ESLint can significantly streamline UI development workflows. These tools automate the enforcement of consistent code styling, eliminating the need for time-consuming discussions about formatting during code reviews. This, in turn, allows development teams to focus on the logic and functionality of the code, rather than its appearance.
Strategies for maintainable UI code
To ensure that UI code remains maintainable as a project evolves, Glenn Reyes proposed several strategies like Implementing a design system that serves as a cornerstone for UI consistency and maintainability. It provides a unified source of truth for the visual elements and guidelines that define an application’s visual language.
Design tokens, representing values for aspects such as color, typography, and spacing, facilitate consistency across various application components. By changing a single design token, you can propagate updates seamlessly across all components using that token, simplifying maintenance.
Rather than hard-coding component spacing values into each component, Reyes advised controlling spacing at the parent component level. This practice promotes better separation of concerns and enhances component reusability and maintainability.
Introducing static typing through TypeScript can greatly enhance code maintainability. It helps clarify whether you’re dealing with polymorphic or compound components and encourages the omission of primitive HTML attributes for styling. These benefits contribute to improved type safety, early error detection, and enhanced developer tooling.
Defining “robust UI”
Glenn Reyes provided a concise definition of a “robust UI.” A robust UI interface is simple and intuitive, ensuring that users can understand and navigate it with ease. In essence, a robust UI is user-friendly, reliable, adaptable, accessible, and easily maintainable.
Additionally, Glenn Reyes highlighted several tools and approaches to enhance UI development. When dealing with variable lists, enforcing deterministic behavior through ordering rules, such as alphabetical sorting, can reduce unpredictability in code. This simplifies code reviews by minimizing unnecessary noise.
Reyes emphasized that to streamline component development, consider using tools or approaches that allow you to work with specific component states in isolation. This approach saves time and enables focused development without distractions.
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