A Larva win and small update [WiH]

A quick share of what I consider a significant win for Larva, the design system I started at PMC that is now a very official thing at the company.


(Remember: WiH is Written in Haste. It only took me 20 minutes to write this post That’s a lie…20 minutes to write a first draft, and 40 more minutes one week later…not bad!)

I would like to quickly share what I consider a significant win for Larva, the design system I started at PMC, that is now a very official thing at the company!

(More about Larva here in the Designgineering Chronicles – there is a final Swan Song installment that has been in the works for months and will probably be published before the end of this month. Well, probably/maybe.).

Currently at PMC, there is a very high profile redesign happening, and we are outsourcing the work to an agency. And yes, they are building the front-end with Larva!! That is an excited and fearful couple of exclamation marks. I have not been on the project…until now….and I have had a not insignificant amount of anxiety about this.

That said, I’ve been feeling much better after this direct quote from one of our most senior (mostly back-end) engineers at PMC:

I don’t think the system is anyway different than the normal workflow
Instead of you writing the HTML, system gives you HTML already
Instead of writing and rewriting CSS, system gives you classes
The only difficulty I had was to know which class does what, but after working thru it for a couple of days, I know decent bit

EXACTLY!!! Stay tuned for my upcoming talk in summer 2022: How PMC Said Good-bye to Turd-Driven Development or How to Help Mostly-back-end Developers Write Great CSS.

Now…if we can get “working thru it for couple of days” down to a couple of hours…then we’re really golden!

For real though, in the past weeks, several engineers on the team have started writing front-end code with Larva, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. There are certainly hiccups here and there, but they get it…and they like it!! Win!

Regarding anxiety about the aforementioned redesign, I have to remind myself that, at this point, it is much more important to have our internal developers on board with the design system than an third-party agency. An agency having trouble with it is definitely good feedback, but it isn’t necessarily an indication of a fault in the design of the system – it’s more an indication of needing automated code quality checks and testing and better on-boarding and documentation…oh, and getting the designs to align with the system language. That’s the real problem, let’s be honest. But, the way PMC operates, the designs themselves are not necessarily something we can influence from the product and engineering team. One step at a time.

Anywayyy….it’s exciting and a true relief that more people than just me at PMC are programming UI with Larva. We are almost clear of the bus factor! And I didn’t build something that works for my brain only…whew!!