I took a new job recently. I no longer work on Drupal and Angular, but instead this framework called EmberJS that I’m still in the middle of learning.

With a new job comes a new way of handling a large software project, and, if I have to be honest, I think I’ve become significantly better already.

So, You Decided to Write Some Code

It’s time to create a new software project for the web! Exciting! Whether you use something like npm create vite new-app -- --template=vue or ember new or create-react-app new-app or simply mkdir new-app, you’re going to get a brand-spankin’ new directory to put text into that will eventually metamorphisize into a grand URL for all the world to connect to and love.

Before you get to the “hosting it on the Internet for others to see” part of your majesty, however, you should probably keep a few things in mind.

Global Node Package Management

Using NodeJS? If you’re making something for the web that’s moderately complicated, odds are you might be. Thus, you have a node_modules directory in your project, and you gotta interact with it somehow. Your first command will most likely be npm install which takes everything outlined in a package.json file, installs it, and then writes a report of sorts into a package-lock.json file (there is also Gemfile(.lock) in the Ruby world and composer.[json|lock] in the PHP world, among others). That lock file can be used to recreate the exact dependencies your project needs at a future time, making the node_modules or vendor or whatever-your-project-uses-for-deps directories effectively temporary and easily buildable-on-demand at any time.

NPM, or Node Package Manager, is the default way to handle dependencies in a NodeJS project. Lots of web frameworks that use NodeJS default to npm as well, but there is always room for improvement in organization, security, speed, and, to this blog post’s specific interest, space. The issue with node_modules is that it gets generated in every single node project you work on. Even though the point is to only have the exact versions of dependencies you need for your project, that’s still a lot of duplication among projects, as the same versions of dependencies are often shared.

PNPM, or Performant Node Package Manager, aims to fix that by using a global store of modules that get hardlinked into your project’s node_modules directory. On small projects without a lot of dependencies, this may not save much space, but as your project grows, it could be very helpful. Moreover, the basic idea behind it jives with my thinking of how a dependency manager should work, so I’m a fan and plan to convert any projects of mine that use npm to use pnpm.

There is also Yarn, which was created before pnpm to fix some deficiencies with npm, and is still quite popular, even though npm keeps improving in ways that tend to obviate yarn.

Static Code Analysis

When you write code, as long as it works, it doesn’t really matter how you write it. Use semicolons, or not. Use 80 or 100 or 120 characters as a line limit, or not. Use trailing commas on array elements, or not. Use blank lines between CSS selectors, or not. If it compiles/interprets and runs without program-halting errors, then it works.

That being said, there is something to the *how*, as being able to easily read code after it has been written is both important to Future You and Other People (which includes Future You).

Static code analysis is the tool for this job, as it checks your code before it is run. Having some kind of consistent convention in how code is organized can improve programmer performance. This includes, but isn’t limited to, speeding up initial development of new projects, limiting surprises when opening up old code, and mitigating unnecessary code changes you have to commit and wade through later. This all becomes even more important when you start working on a team with multiple people touching the same code.

While the tools that exist to help keep your code clean and consistent have changed over the years (especially in the web development world), in 2024 there seems to be a few that are often used:

ESLint (Logic and Debugging)

The “es” in ESLint stands for ECMAScript, which is the standard that Javascript is built to. When Javascript improves, it’s because ECMAScript is improved.

Linting is a form of static analysis: it checks code before it is run to try to root out potential logical problems. I’m assuming the term comes from the real world, where one would use a tool to remove lint from clothing. In other words, a linter program flags the accumulation of specific lines of code (“lint”) that do not adhere to prescribed coding rules (“clothing”).

For example, a logical rule like no-const-assign would flag the following code:

const a = 0;
a = 1;

If you ran eslint against your code, you would get something like this:

[lint:js] /code/new-app/main.js
[lint:js]   1:1  error  'a' is constant  no-const-assign

Javascript will still interpret your code and your website might still display fine (if that code isn’t run right away), but it’s an error that will cause something to go wrong once it is run. If the code is buried in some function that doesn’t get called a lot, you might not understand why something breaks at some point. Linting would notice this before you run the code and flag it so you can fix it.

There are also tools called JSLint and JSHint, but I believe that ESLint has more or less superseded them.

Prettier (Style and Convention)

Even though I’m not a fan of the name of this tool, it can be helpful to write code to a standard style so that Future You knows what to expect later. Reading other people’s code that is written to the same standard improves readability and understanding.

Prettier is an “opinionated code formatter” that prescribes a certain way of writing code, setting the so-called standard mentioned before. It’s more controversial to say “write your code so that each line is only 80 characters long or shorter” than to say “do not re-assign values to const variables”, so there is more discussion around a tool like this.

For example, Prettier prescribes using a comma on the last item in a comma-separated structure:

const foo = [

Leave off that last comma, and it will get flagged. This is something I only recently came around to liking, as it always looked off to me when I would see it in code. However, it makes sense to have one because if you don’t, making additions to the list will cause 2 lines to be changed instead of 1 (since the penultimate item would need a comma to allow for the new ultimate line).

Stylelint (Logic and Style)

Stylelint is a CSS linter that also performs formatting, so kind of a mix of the two previous tools. However, Stylelint is much more configurable than Prettier, so it’s less opinionated about the actual formatting you use, and more insistent that you use something.

CSS, which handles the presentation of your code, is generally more forgiving to logical errors, but still has potential for invalid code. Logical errors will cause things to not present as expected, while style errors will potentially affect human readability.

Logic example: if you use the Stylelint rule color-no-invalid-hex, then the following code is invalid (and will cause that color to not be used):

.foo {
  color: #yyy994;

Style example: if you use the Stylelint rule length-zero-no-unit, then the following code is invalid (but will not affect the padding):

.foo {
  padding-top: 0px;

Dynamic Analysis (Testing)

Dynamic analysis is for checking your code as it is running. You ideally want to check for runtime code errors before you deploy to a place that users would interact with it. Thankfully, there are tools to test your running code before it gets deployed. Tests are generally just files in the same language as your app, only instead of prescribing functionality, they instead assert functionality.


<button id="increase-counter">Increase Counter</button>
<span class="counter"></span>
const buttonIncreaseCounter = document.querySelector('button#increase-counter')
const spanCounter = document.querySelector('span.counter')

let count = 0

button.addEventListener('click', () => {
  count += 1

Assertion (Cypress):

  .should('have.text', '1')

Assertion (QUnit):

await click('button#increase-counter')


If you’re good about running both static and dynamic analysis of your code as you’re developing and before you deploy, then…you are a better programmer than I am. Congrats!

For the rest of us, a tool called Husky is helpful to enforce both linting and testing before committing any new code to a repository, let alone to a deployment target.

To use it after installing, you add a file that runs a command, and triggers on a git event, such as pre-commit:

cd /code/new-app/.husky
echo 'npm lint' >> pre-commit

For the Road

None of these tools are required to create code, let alone good code. However, having a well-planned strategy with certain checks before making changes to a codebase can be really helpful in the long run. A well-linted, well-tested project is kind of a dream to work in, even if it may slow down actual coding. It’s a tradeoff: you can make riskier changes more quickly, or you can make safer changes more slowly. There’s a balance, as always, but my new job has taught me that the latter can be more enjoyable and leave me with more confidence in the long-term health of a project if you just set up some infrastructure before making a single change.