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Away from the SPA

I have a long history of writing about my disdain for SPAs.

Browsers give you a ton of stuff for free, built right in, out-of-the-box. SPAs break all that, and force you to recreate it yourself with JavaScript.

Last month, Nolan Lawson wrote an article about how the balance has shifted away from SPAs that I thoroughly enjoyed.

In it, Nolan looks at some of the technology shifts that helped make MPAs (multi-page apps, or, you know, websites) cool again. There were a few things in there I didn’t know about!

  1. Chrome implemented paint holding – no more “flash of white” when navigating between MPA pages. (Safari already did this.)
  2. Chrome implemented back-forward caching – now all major browsers have this optimization, which makes navigating back and forth in an MPA almost instant.
  3. Service Workers – once experimental, now effectively 100% available for those of us targeting modern browsers – allow for offline navigation without needing to implement a client-side router (and all the complexity therein).
  4. Shared Element Transitions, if accepted and implemented across browsers, would also give us a way to animate between MPA navigations – something previously only possible (although difficult) with SPAs.

Go read Nolan’s full article to get his perspective on how the web development landscape will over the coming years.