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Richard MacManus, a senior editor at The New Stack, wrote about and stackless web development.

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Richard MacManus, a senior editor at The New Stack, today published an article, “Web Frameworks: Why You Don’t Always Need Them” that discusses and stackless web development.

It’s here, if you want to read it in its entirety: Web Frameworks: Why You Don’t Always Need Them. He interviewed me for the article (thank you, Richard!) but I’d like to expand on some of the points he made.

  1. advocates for a “no-framework” web standards approach to web development, using “the newest features built into web browsers.” He says, “According to Kehoe, the time is right for a ‘stackless’ approach to web development.” That’s right! I’ve written extensively about the stackless way, both in a long article (that he links to) and in shorter (much easier to read) articles about building websites the stackless way.

  2. MacManus writes, “The ability to modularize both code and markup was the turning point for Kehoe” and quotes me, _“We once needed web application development frameworks because there was no option to write modular code or access databases in old-time HTML and JavaScript. Now custom elements make it possible to write modular HTML.”_ That’s true. Making both HTML and JavaScript modular is a breakthrough that eliminates the need for a key feature of any web development framework.

  3. He mentions the “three key web technologies underpinning Kehoe’s approach” and lists: ES6 Modules (JavaScript ES6 can support import modules); Module CDNs (JavaScript modules can now be downloaded from third-party content delivery networks); Custom HTML elements (developers can now create custom HTML tags, via Web Components). MacManus doesn’t explain that the “stackless” approach is different from just using web components because module CDNs eliminate the need for JavaScript build tools for development (though the build tools are still needed for performance optimization).

  4. MacManus mentions that “the no-framework approach is still very new and so there’s a lack of example apps and sites to learn from.” That’s true. That’s why I’m writing articles and tutorials at and why I’ve started a newsletter at

  5. In his article, MacManus points to a page at about obstacles to stackless web development. It’s true that I believe frameworks like React are still needed for some use cases, like state management, and build tools are still needed for some JAMstack processes and performance optimization. MacManus concludes the stackless approach can’t work “at scale” and “frameworks are still clearly the best solution for at-scale web development.” MacManus explained to me that by “at scale” he’s referring to the need for build tools for performance optimization. That may be so but it’s an argument for using build tools, not frameworks. We don’t yet know what web applications can be scaled using only the web browser as a framework. I think it’s premature to draw the conclusion that the stackless approach can’t work at scale.

Summary: Richard MacManus is the first journalist to write about stackless web development. He’s written a great introduction to the approach. His article Web Frameworks: Why You Don’t Always Need Them is worth reading. But “stackless can’t scale” is open to debate.

If you want to know more about stackless web development, go to and get the newsletter!