I circled back to Preact

I've mentioned about liking arrowjs and working with it for simple and straight forward web apps with minimal interaction. The concept of being able to do it all without build tools sat well with my goal of plainjs

The overall concept of reactivity as a primitive instead of the entire framework isn't new and is also something SolidJS has proven to be a good base to work with.

I liked this and wanted to see what I could do make it simpler to work with arrowjs both without build tooling and with one.

Without build Tooling

The first iteration of this is nomen which allows you to choose your rendering engine to be one of the following UI libraries - preact, arrow and vanilla js.

Nomen, doesn't build / transform anything for arrow and would just bundle it all up so you didn't have to. The bundling is done at application startup so we can avoid runtime overhead.

You also have a build cache which would be used in production environments to avoid rebuilding if the build is already in place.

With build tooling

The other iteration was what most modern meta frameworks do and it was to use Vite to handle the transformation and final distribution.

This was a lower effort since I didn't have to implement most of the basics of a meta framework from scratch and instead just write a plugin for vite. This didn't sit with the plainjs mentality but was necessary to be able to quickly evaluate the usability of my love for ArrowJS.


Let's actually look at the good, the bad and the things that I think made me move back to preact.

What's good?


The basic primitives are very extensible and work really well. This is what small and well contained utilities can do.

The entire library works off of the reactive and watch primitive functions exposed by it.

And they do exactly what their names tell. One creates a reactive proxy and the other provides a way to watch these reactive items.


The whole thing is super fast, you can check this on their demos as well but while using it on a live app, it made me realise how big of a tree it was constructing and still didn't flinch one bit.

What's bad?


The overall nesting that html template literals create gets hard to track and work with over time.

While you can create simple components with arrow's html function, it's still hard to work with direct html strings.

To help with the development, you can use lit-html's syntax highlighter and it definitely helps but it's still not as functionally pleasing as let's say Vue's SFC syntax or JSX.


Keeping track of what's reactive and what's not can get hard. If you have a static html string and the nested reactive html component, there might be cases where it doesn't update itself because the root html component was static.

Giving the control of what is and isn't reactive to the developer doesn't work well in larger trees and you end up having to go through every insertion to find which template is typed wrong.

Luckily while using adex the above was very rare but that doesn't mean the problem doesn't exist.

I still like the concept and would continue to use it for simple apps where I don't need build tooling but this does change the priority of what nomen and adex will focus on.

The development for both of them would start moving forward to make working with preact a lot easier since it's going to get hard for preact's team to keep up with every new change that react might bring to the stage and I want first class frameworks and libraries for preact instead.

I personally think it's about time the preact ecosystem starts building itself slowly and steadily to avoid piggybacking on the react ecosystem.

Final point, I am back to working more towards what can be done with preact instead. Doesn't mean the arrowjs utilities that were created in the meanwhile would be abandoned.

That's all for now, adios!