React versus Plain JS

This piece is not meant to be a rant about React but rather just some observations. I hope that writing this does not make me unpopular. I do welcome opposing opinions.

I got involved with React only one year ago because I read so much about it (jamstack, netlify, serverless etc). I am a simple developer, primarily back-end, so I don’t think I need all the frills React has to offer. Please convince me otherwise.

After about one month of struggling with React I switched to Plain Vanilla Javascript for the following reasons:

1. React seemed too complicated but I was happy to learn it

2. I did not want to be beholden to Node JS

3. Babel placed a cookie at my site when i used this react library vs node on my html page

4. I was intimidated by React because I don’t feel smart enough, it seems a bit over my head. Please explain State in plain English.

5. I discovered array methods in plain js for rendering data in html

6. no libraries to import with plain js

7. plain js seems much more sophisticated these days than 5 years ago

8. all i really want from my JS is a Fetch or axios api (the http client)

9. I fetch AWS Lambda functions in my plain JS where I use Lodash which is similar to array methods but u do need to import both fetch and Lodash in Lambda. I still avoid Node this way.

10. SEO is impacted when we use React. Even with SSR I did not want to do the extra step and also with SSR it seemed complicated to become serverless

11. I did not want to do Gatsby, just simple JS (I don't fully understand why we need additional React libraries like Gatsby or Next.JS). As a beginner, after just barely grasping basic React, I was immediately faced with learning these other things that also use React. It was a turnoff because I was already overwhelmed.

12. my needs were just simple JS, I just want a little bit of JS not a lot

13. same goes for NODE JS, I don’t want the whole enchilada just a small part of it so I imported Babel library in my html. I was turned off by the hundreds of dependencies imported with Node

14. I did not like React Router

15. I don’t like the idea of a single page app in React

16. I think JSX is cool but don’t really need or want it

17. I now use AWS Lambda for my server side logic so I don’t really need Node JS. Prior to Lambda I deployed Java Servlets at server side. I recognized the need to be more modern day with my stack.

Wow, I didn’t think I had this many reasons for opting to use Plain JS vs React

I do like challenges but I really did not want to be married to React. My architecture involves much more than the front end and I don’t have the time to put in for the seemingly high React learning curve.

I am a Java and SQL developer so not much of a front end person anyway. Do a Google search on Rick Delpo to find out more about me or visit my website where I have supporting material for this article at

Thanks for reading and I invite comments on such a controversial topic. Please, I would be very interested in comments about why React is so great. I would definitely use React in some use cases if someone gives me a compelling reason to do so.

Self criticism - I might be too shortsighted because I am a back-end developer (always eager to learn more though)

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