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Oblivious convo React vs Signals: 10 Years Later

How does the old Winston Churchill quote go?

Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it

Although a more ironic addendum might add.

Those who study history are doomed to stand by while everyone else repeats it.

In the past few weeks, we’ve seen the culmination of a build of excitement around the revival of fine-grained reactivity, being referred to as Signals, across the front-end world.

The truth is Signals never went away. They lived several years in obscurity as third-party libraries or hidden behind frameworks’ plain object APIs. Even though the common rhetoric that came in with React and the Virtual DOM condemned the patterns as unpredictable and dangerous. And they weren’t wrong.

@devongovettasy to forget, but the debate about signals is the same one we had about 2-way data binding vs unidirectional data flow 10 years ago. Signals are mutable state! They’re bindings with a new name. The simplicity of UI as a function of state is lost when updates flow unpredictably.17:54 PM – 25 Feb 2023

But there is more to it than a 10 year old debate. So I want to talk about how things have changed over the years and offer SolidJS as a foil.

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