New Facebook website relies entirely on JavaScript

New Facebook website relies entirely on JavaScript

After years of organic growth, Facebook has completely rewritten its website UI: with React, GraphQL and without PHP.

The surface of the Facebook website has been completely rewritten by the responsible development team, as those involved report in their engineering blog. The JavaScript library React, originally created by Facebook itself, and the GraphQL client Relay for React are now used.

The complete rewrite of such a large and widely used website can definitely be described as unusual. As the team writes, when the social network launched in 2004, Facebook.com was a simple server-side rendered PHP website. Since then, however, new layers have been added for new technologies, which have always been harder to maintain and have also made adding new functions more and more complicated.

From Facebook’s point of view, the rewriting of the website was also necessary so that the many and modern web technologies that the Dedicated team has envisioned for the new page can be used. Above all, this means that they should be particularly interactive and feel like an app.

The decision for React is not surprising

It comes as no surprise that the Facebook developers opted for React. The JavaScript library was created in the company in 2011 and has been available as open source since 2013. With React Native, the company also uses a framework derived from it for the development of its mobile apps, such as for Android and iOS.

The fact that PHP is not used is not surprising either. The developers write that they are not convinced that it can be used as pleasantly as with client-side apps. On the server side, too, Facebook is increasingly doing without PHP. For example, the in-house PHP alternative HHVM only supports the Hack language and no longer supports PHP, as was originally the case.

The author of the article is Sebastian Grüner.

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