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Here, Rich Harris explains why he created Svelte.
I took a job working at a financial publication in London. And this was about the time of the 2008 financial crash. And I distinctly remember just a few months after I started working - it was my first job - a bunch of people got laid off because the economy was crashing. I thought it was going to be a last-in-first-out situation.
And I was on the chopping block, but they weren’t paying me enough for it to be worth their time to fire me. So I survived. But the lesson that I took from that was, you know, if I’m going to make it in this industry, I need to become more employable. And so I started drifting towards more technical roles. And a couple of years after that, after spending some time working on video stuff, they needed someone to do some basic HTML angling, essentially.
When I started doing visual journalism, the tooling available to programmers wasn’t as good as it is today. There just wasn’t as much stuff. And it was hard, it was really hard to write these rich interactive applications.
And so with, you know, all of the naivety of youth, I thought I can solve this. And so I started working on a framework of my own called Ractive, which was kind of inspired by a mash-up of Knockout and Angular and some of the other things that were around at the time. And it was pretty good.
Like I was very fond of it. It had some success, you know, was used by a few different companies and introduced a lot of the ideas that are nowadays kind of table stakes in frameworks like single file components and stuff like that. But ultimately it just wasn’t good enough to compete with some of the bigger frameworks. And so after a few years, I became of the view that Ractive, like many of the frameworks from that era, weren’t really well suited to the era of the mobile web.
And one of those evenings I was talking to one of the people who ran Brooklyn JS, and he was talking about an idea that he had that would turn the code that you’d written into something else. He was talking about compilers. And I didn’t really understand what all that meant at the time, but the idea kind of lodged itself in my brain.
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