On Monday, Kadir Topal, a Senior Product Manager at Mozilla announced that the new React frontend of MDN Web Docs is now in Beta. MDN Web Docs, formerly known as Mozilla Developer Network, is the one-stop for web developer documentation. Mozilla has been working on replacing the jQuery library with React for months now to provide developers a customized MDN experience while still ensuring faster page loading time.
MDN has two modes: editing and viewing. While viewing is used by most developers visiting the site, only a small fraction of them use the editing mode. This is why the team broke these two use cases into different domains. You can access the editing mode on wiki.developer.mozilla.org and the viewing mode on beta.developer.mozilla.org.
The team plans to decommission beta.developer.mozilla.org after the testing phase is complete. The editing mode will continue to be served by the old frontend wiki.developer.mozilla.org.
The discussion on this decision started earlier this year. While many praised it for this move, many felt that as a promoter of web standards it shouldn’t overlook web components for a custom framework. A developer commented on MDN’s GitHub repository, “As a user, I would like to see Mozilla that uses web standards to promote web standards. As a developer, I would like to see Mozilla and their developers using web standards and promote them. I don’t need to see the nth React project.”
Another developer commented, “The message that the No. 1 resource for Web development is ditching the same Web technologies it advocates, would be as disastrous as that, implicitly claiming a defeat for the Web, hence seppuku in the long term for the platform nobody would care much anymore.”
In its support a developer remarked, “At the end of the day, none of us should care what MDN uses – we should care that the devs who have put so much effort into building a resource that has massively contributed to our own education and will continue to do so on a daily basis are productive and happy.”
David Flanagan, one of the developers behind this project, affirmed that this decision was purely pragmatic. Flanagan shared that the MDN team is very tiny and they only had occasional help from volunteer contributions. Choosing React for MDN’s frontend may bring more contributors, he believed.
He said, “Fundamentally, I’m asking you all to trust us. We’re hoping to do great things this year with MDN, and I think that the vast majority of our users will love what we do. Thank you for reading this far, and thank you for your passion about web standards and MDN.”
The team is now seeking developers’ feedback on this release. In case of any issue, you can file a bug, reply on Discourse, or also contact Topal on Twitter.
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