I wrote this FAQ in late 2020 and early 2021 when I began to "resurrect" the Modulo project around a new set of goals: Choosing the name Modulo, relaxing the 500-line limit I had imposed previously, and making it much more modular and beginner friendly, and thus more strongly adhering to "KISS" principles. This FAQ, like every FAQ, is an imaginary conversation between the creator (myself) of Modulo and imaginary people who apparently are invested in Modulo enough to ask probing questions about it. That said, if you are a non-imaginary person (I should hope so!) with questions about Modulo, they are welcome even more: Contact via email, submit a pull request to this page, or add an issue to the project on GitHub.


By reading this FAQ, you will get a better understanding of the motivation of building Modulo and it's design philosophy.

Q: Why yet another JavaScript framework?

A: To me, the very idea of writing YET ANOTHER JavaScript framework is vomit inducing.
And yet here I am.

While working at Kickstart Coding, developing our Django-based LMS, nothing quite fit the bill for a very simple JS framework to sprinkle in some extra interactive features to an otherwise very straight-forward multi-page web app. The current solution was a mess of Vue and scattered vanilla JavaScript (okay, and a few old jQuery plugins, that we'll totally get rid of ASAP totally), with the build-step and mounting code for the Vue code getting almost as complicated as the little it was even doing.

We didn't have the developer bandwidth needed for a SPA, and the poor state of JS code was slowing down building features, not to mention the brittle mounting process was hard to test. If only I could just go in there and do some JS without any more fuss… but also develop using hot-reloading and a bundle in the end. So, I gave up, gave in, and became the problem. I wrote yet another JavaScript component framework.

Q: Any future plans?

A: Yes, plenty! The three main ones: SSG, server-side, and MDU. Currently, this site is already getting generated with a Modulo-based SSG. However, it's undocumented and messy, so it still needs work before it's released externally. On a similar note, there are plans for a JAMStack-style SSG + server-side combo, with live-refresh inspired by Phoenix LiveView. Finally, developing this site requires developing some key components, so I also hope to have time to document and release "mdu", which will be a standard library of Modulo components, including a Router system inspired by React Router.

Q: Why do you care so much about short source code files? Don't you want a framework that does more?

A: In my opinion, the most important feature about a framework like this is documentation and structure, not functionality. Specifically, my coding philosophy is that good frameworks should have aim first and foremost to have a high "documentation to code" ratio. This is because a framework is much more than simply a set of libraries to import. Choosing a framework represents buy-in to file and directory structures, recipes, best practices, code patterns, and so on. I don't want to have to dig through other people's code to figure out how to solve my problems. Instead, a good framework should come "batteries included" with documentation that clearly indicates how to solve common problems.

Thus, to pump up our "doc/code" ratio, the easiest thing is to keep the denominator as low as possible. This is especially true for a new, solo-developed framework project such as this one. Similarly, I think that frameworks should seek to be as simple and elegant as possible, especially in this case, when the framework is a layer on top of existing web standards (the web component standard). In this case, adding anything more would constitute over-engineering.

Q: Can't you have both, however? Maybe not as a solo project, but can't you have a big, extensive framework with big and extensive documentation?

Sure, it's possible, in some cases situations better, and you can use always that too. Modulo plays well with others! However, Modulo takes a different approach. See the the design philosophy "thought experiment" article for for further and more thorough discussion of Modulo's approach and it's motivation.

Q: 80 char line limit? 4 space indentation? Imperative coding? What is this, the 90's?

A: Another motivating factor for developing Modulo was how much I appreciates libraries such as Django that maintain high quality docs and code, and have an easy-to-follow codebase that you can always go to to understand exact ordering or behavior of certain operations or steps. This is contrasted with other libraries which seem to be designed first and foremost to go fast and pass tests, but not for thorough documentation, or self-documenting code. This is not a slight on any particular library, nor is it a claim that I write better code—in fact, outside of Modulo.js itself, all the tooling code in this repo is a mess! However, for Modulo.js itself, I invested most of the development time in refactoring it over and over (and over and over), until the code and logical flow was as simple as possible. My goal is to make the code readable and be a good example for novice coders. I want engineers of all skill levels to be able to understand why the framework behaves the way it does by simply reading the code that powers certain features.

That's where the coding standard comes in. Shorter line length and "more intense" indentation requirements naturally causes simpler, less convoluted code, causing desirable side-effects such as lower cyclomatic complexity in functions. It might not be "pleasant" to write under these conditions, but code is written once and read 1000 times. Modulo code was written to be easily read, not easily written.

Note: Linting configs are still an unresolved bug, meaning this coding standard is partially aspirational.

Q: Why call it Modulo?

A: From Wikipeda: “In mathematics, the term modulo is often used to assert that two distinct mathematical objects can be regarded as equivalent if their difference is accounted for by an additional factor.” Basically, it's math jargon to say two things are equivalent in a given condition or context.

So, maybe the goal of Modulo is provide that context, making a natural way to integrate the new and the old! Or maybe it sounded cool. Maybe that!

Q: Isn't Modulo already a thing in JavaScript?

Interestingly, MDN's JavaScript documentation describes it's % as not being a modulo operator! Instead, it calls the percent sign a remainder operator, which behaves similarly for some numbers, but differs for negative numbers. So, while Modulo.js is not the first thing to be called "Modulo" in JS it is not named after the % operator in JavaScript, making the logo a bit of a tongue-in-cheek joke.