Inertia.js and Livewire: a high level comparison

Setting the stage

Inertia and Livewire were both born out of frustration with the current JavaScript landscape. Frameworks like Vue.js or React enable us to build incredible user interfaces, but the cost in complexity of building a SPA is incredibly high.

I see Inertia and Livewire as opposite solutions to similar problems. In a nutshell, Livewire enables you to build user interfaces by creating special components in Blade. You don’t need to write any JavaScript unless strictly necessary. Inertia replaces Blade views altogether by returning JavaScript components from controller actions. Those components can be built with your frontend framework of choice.

Livewire is a Laravel library, while Inertia has adapters for several server and client frameworks. That said, this comparison assumes you want to use Laravel on the backend.

More or less JavaScript

Let’s start with Livewire. Livewire is invisible at first. You build your application with Blade like you’re already used to. Need to add something interactive? Sprinkle in some basic JavaScript, or build a Livewire component.

Livewire components can be embedded in your existing views:

They exist out of a plain PHP file to control the data and a Blade file to control the template.

<?php use Livewire\Component; class Counter extends Component { public $count = 0; public function render() { return view('livewire.counter'); } } 
<div> <span></span> </div>

You can bind data and events to DOM nodes using wire: directives like wire:click. Events trigger an HTTP request and invoke their associated handler method on the component class written in PHP.

<?php use Livewire\Component; class Counter extends Component { public $count = 0; public function increment() { $this->count++; } public function decrement() { $this->count--; } public function render() { return view('livewire.counter'); } } 
<div> <button wire:click="increment">+</button> <button wire:click="decrement">-</button> <span></span> </div>

This allows you to write interactive components without writing any JavaScript. State and event handling gets lifted to the component class on the server.

When it comes to writing JavaScript, Inertia is Livewire’s polar opposite. After installing Inertia you stop writing Blade views altogether.

In contrast to Livewire, you return components from your controller actions.

<?php class UsersController { public function index() { return inertia('Users/Index', [ 'users' => User::all(), ]); } } 

Inertia will render a component written in Vue (or your framework of choice) matching the component path you specified in the response.

<template> <table> <tbody> <tr v-for="user in users" :key=""> <!-- … --> </tr> </tbody> </table> </template> <script> export default { props: ['users'], } </script>

You handle user interactions on the client like you’re already used to with Vue. If you need to transition to a new page, use the InertiaLink component. This will request a JSON response with AJAX instead of triggering a full page visit, giving your application a smooth SPA-like experience.

<template> <table> <tbody> <tr v-for="user in users" :key=""> <td> <InertiaLink :href="`/users/${}`">  </InertiaLink> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </template> <script> export default { props: ['users'], } </script>

Inertia can also be used to fetch fresh data for the current page.

<template> <div> <input type="search" v-model="search"> <table> <tbody> <tr v-for="user in users" :key=""> <td> <InertiaLink :href="`/users/${}`">  </InertiaLink> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> </template> <script> export default { props: ['users'], data() { return { search: '', }; }, watch: { search(search) { Inertia.visit( `window.location.href?search=${search}`, { preserveState: true } ); } } } </script>

Developer experience

If you decide to use Livewire, you can progressively add Livewire components throughout your application. Data fetching is also managed in the Livewire component PHP class, so it’s separate from your application’s controllers. That means you can embed multiple components on a single page, and they’ll each have their state and lifecycle.

With Inertia you pretty much need to go all-in (at least per section of your application). Data fetching happens in controllers like you’re already used to, but that means you need to think more in “pages” and less in “components” in the context of the client-server communication.

Both of these approaches have a similar outcome: you end up writing a lot less AJAX-only endpoints.

Take a classic data table component as an example. In a traditional application, you’d have a controller action to return the base view and another action to fetch data asynchronously.

With Livewire you’d write a data table Livewire component that takes care of both the template and the data fetching.

With Inertia you’d write a single controller action that returns the view with the relevant data. This works because every subsequent request is already an AJAX request.

Render performance

JavaScript is a hard requirement for Inertia to render anything at all. If you need your server to return a fully rendered document, Inertia is a no go for now. The lack of server rendering changes the initial load experience, and can potentially impact SEO. A server-rendered document will always display faster than one that only renders on the client after all assets are downloaded and executed.

This is a much-discussed tradeoff when talking about SPAs. In the context of an interactive web application, the added load time is often worth it for the optimizations you can do on subsequent renders. Note that the performance penalty for Inertia is a lot smaller than for SPAs. SPAs need to make an additional AJAX request on every page to fetch data, while data is immediately included in an Inertia response.

Livewire is a whole different beast. Since Livewire renders everything on the server, you’ll always have a short time to first meaningful paint. After the content’s downloaded, Livewire will execute its scripts and the page will be interactive. Assuming you’re not loading huge amounts of JavaScript, the time to interactive of Inertia and Livewire are quite similar.

Should I use Inertia or Livewire?

The usual answer to all programming questions in the universe: it depends.

From a personal preference perspective

Aside from the context of your project: if you prefer developing in Vue, React, or another frontend framework, you’ll prefer Inertia. If you love Blade and want to write less JavaScript, Livewire would probably be your weapon of choice. This is, however, a highly subjective measure.

From a technical perspective

If you’re building a marketing-heavy landing page, a blog, or anything else with a higher bounce rate by nature, the longer time to first meaningful paint can hurt. Livewire is a better fit for these. The same applies to pages that must display content without relying on JavaScript.

If you’re building an app it’s a more nuanced decision.

A big selling point for Livewire is that each component has its lifecycle. This is pretty big you have a lot of blocks that need to communicate to the server individually.

Inertia keeps you limited to pages, but that makes the whole thing more familiar and gives you that smooth SPA-like experience throughout your application.

From an onboarding perspective

If you’re already building apps with Laravel and Vue, Inertia feels like a step up from mounting components in Blade views without drastically changing the way you need to structure your application. Livewire’s model is a bigger shift away from the MVC monolith we’re used to building.

Closing thoughts

Keep in mind that this is a very high-level overview of the two. Both have a ton of small features that spark joy in day-to-day development.

One thing Inertia and Livewire have in common: they’re both young and very exciting pieces of technology.

If Livewire sounds interesting to you, take a look at Livewire is created and maintained by Caleb Porzio. If you want to learn more about Inertia.js, I highly recommend reading “Server-side apps with client-side rendering” and “Introducing Inertia.js” from its author Jonathan Reinink.

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Inertia.js and Livewire: a high level comparison

A new tool for self-taught developers (sponsor)

A new tool for self-taught developers (sponsor)

Being a self-taught developer often means learning as you go, but also needing to write solid code on a timeline.

AnyMod is a new service with hundreds of ready-to-use modules (“mods”) that act as a fast starting point for your work: CMS, themes, forms, marketing sections, and more. You can add mods to any site (any tech stack) and they work automatically.

Mods make your work easier by being:

  • Fast: A page full of mods can load in about 20ms
  • Automatic: CMS & forms work without any extra setup, etc.
  • Pre-styled: already responsive and nice-looking, with dozens of free themes
  • Easy to modify: you can edit code and content directly, with live reload across all your screens
  • Easy to add: add mods to your site by copy/pasting one line of HTML

All of this means you can build really quickly, whether you’re adding features (like CMS) to static client sites, or integrating with React, Vue and whatever else you’re using.

AnyMod is also a great resource for continuing to learn.  Because all mods are open source, you can pop open the code editor and start messing around with a mod to see how it works. Mods are generally very well-written, so you might learn a thing or two.

The live reload is also just really cool: when you change a mod, it instantly updates everywhere you’re viewing it. No additional configuration is needed, and it makes for an extremely fast workflow.

If you’re a self-taught developer looking to continue learning and complete projects quickly with a lot of polish, consider checking out AnyMod.  It’s free to use and has a great community of self-taught devs building and sharing mods:

Check it out at


Many thanks to AnyMod via Syndicate Ads for sponsoring the site this week.

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A new tool for self-taught developers (sponsor)

Making a Hardware Store Muzzleloader

Here’s a short two-part video showing a pretty decent build of a homemade muzzleloading pistol that was created from parts the guy found in a hardware store.

Warning: Turn off the sound… the only audio is some really bad “music.”

About two minutes in, I found myself cringing at the waste, as he cuts the lock plate from the MIDDLE of a large hunk of steel plate. He should’ve cut it from the edge to conserve his material. Please tell me I’m not the only person who thinks that way?

Impressive lock, but questionable mainspring.

I won’t bore you with a blow-by-blow… the video is in two parts but they’re only about 7 and 4 minutes long. Even if you don’t like his methods, it ought to give you some ideas anyhow.

Drilling out the hammer.

Drilling out the hammer.

Here are the videos… enjoy.

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Making a Hardware Store Muzzleloader

We Are in the Middle of a Wave of Interesting New Productivity Software Startups

VC fund A16z’s Benedict Evans writes: We are in the middle of a wave of interesting new productivity software startups — there are dozens of companies that remix some combination of lists, tables, charts, tasks, notes, light-weight databases, forms, and some kind of collaboration, chat or information-sharing. All of these things are unbundling and rebundling spreadsheets, email and file shares. Instead of a flat grid of cells, a dumb list of files, and a dumb list of little text files (which is what email really is), we get some kind of richer canvas that mixes all of these together in ways that are native to the web and collaboration. Then, we have another new wave of productivity company that addresses a particular profession and bundles all of the tasks that were spread across spreadsheets, email and file shares into some new structured flow. […] A few years ago a consultant told me that for half of their jobs they told people using Excel to use a database, and for the other half they told people using a database to use Excel. There’s clearly a point in the life of any company where you should move from the list you made in a spreadsheet to the richer tools you can make in But when that tool is managing a thousand people, you might want to move it into a dedicated service. After all, even Craigslist started as an actual email list and ended up moving to a database. But then, at a certain point, if that task is specific to your company and central to what you do, you might well end up unbundling Salesforce or SAP or whatever that vertical is and go back to the beginning. Of course, this is the cycle of life of enterprise software. IBM mainframes bundled the adding machines you see Jack Lemmon using below, and also bundled up filing cabinets and telephones. SAP unbundled IBM. But I’d suggest there are two specific sets of things that are happening now. First, every application category is getting rebuilt as a web application, allowing continuous development, deployment, version tracking and collaboration. As (video!) and OnShape (3D CAD!) show, there’s almost no native PC application that can’t be rebuilt as a web app. In parallel, everything now has to be native to collaboration, and so the model of a binary file saved to a file share will generally go away over time (this could be done with a native PC app, but in practice generally won’t be). So, we have some generational changes, and that also tends to create new companies. But second, and much more important — everyone is online now. The reason we’re looking at nursing or truck drivers or oil workers is that an entire generation now grew up after the web, and grew up with smartphones, and assumes without question that every part of their life can be done with a smartphone. In 1999 hiring ‘roughnecks’ in a mobile app would have sounded absurd — now it sounds absurd if you’re not. And that means that a lot of tasks will get shifted into software that were never really in software at all before.

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We Are in the Middle of a Wave of Interesting New Productivity Software Startups

David Hasselhoff in Moped Rider

David Hasselhoff in Moped Rider


We all know that Germans love David Hasselhoff, so it makes perfect sense that the Knight Rider and Baywatch star would appear in a commercial for a German automotive website. The words may be in German, but the humor is universal. Presumably, K.I.T.T. was replaced with a moped due to fuel efficiency concerns.

via The Awesomer
David Hasselhoff in Moped Rider

Comic for September 29, 2019


CEO: I don’t understand why you are recommending blockchain for this application.
Boss: My staff are the experts, but I can explain the basic idea. You see, using blockchain is like losing a necklace on the beach. Then a seagull finds the necklace and takes it back to it’s nest. And we all like data security, don’t we?
CEO: It’s almost as if you are proposing a plan you don’t understand at any level.
Boss: Well, yes, but keep in mind that you wouldn’t understand it even if I could explain it.
CEO: But you’re sure someone on your staff understands it, right?
Boss: Define "sure".

via Dilbert Daily Strip
Comic for September 29, 2019

VIDEO: Amy Swearer Gives 4 Points for No Assault Weapon Ban Before House Hearing

We reported earlier how Dianna Muller made national headlines, and arguably cemented a folk legend status in the firearms community, when she told the House Judiciary Committee “I will not comply” with an assault weapon ban. Di rocked for sure. But equally impressive, in a quite measured performance, Amy Swearer delivered the most important testimony of the entire hearing.

Dianna Muller spoked before House Judiciary Committee.


WATCH: Dianna Muller Tells House Judiciary Committee ‘I Will Not Comply’

Amy Swearer on the Assault Weapon Ban

During Swearer’s opening remarks, she read a prepared statement that showcased her deep knowledge of the subject. As a Senior Legal Policy Analyst with several published pieces, Swearer clearly conducted exhaustive research on assault rifles. She also has facts on crime statistics and the 2nd Amendment.

Then she simply schooled those in favor of an assault weapon ban.

Swearer gave a compelling argument that previously banned features make rifles safer, not more dangerous. She argued statistics show overwhelmingly that rifles don’t pose a great danger to society. Swearer showed that law-abiding citizens purchase these guns. And they use them for lawful purposes. Finally, Amy Swearer makes a point that AR-15s and the like give law-abiding citizens a chance against assailants.

Above all, Swearer showed the hypocrisy and fallacy of the anti-gun movement. Now let’s hope the politicians will listen.

1. ‘Assault Weapons’ Characteristics Make Them Safer, Not More Dangerous

“The term ‘assault weapon’ does not have one official definition, but typically denotes firearms that have a range of features associated with modern semi-automatic rifles such as the AR-15,” Amy Swearer read from her prepared statement. “It should be noted that the phrase ‘assault weapon’ is not a technical or legal term, but rather appears to have become popular as part of a concerted effort by gun control advocates to manipulate those with limited knowledge of firearms into confusing certain semi-automatic rifles with ‘assault rifles,’ which are functionally distinct and heavily regulated by the federal government.”

We all remember the inept restrictions of the previous AWB, limiting pistol grips, bayonet lugs, barrel shrouds and more. Swearer points out that gun control advocates typically attack such accessories and features. While they in no way change the functionality or legality of the firearm, they sure look scary. But in practice, a ban on these accessories takes away accessories that promote better marksmanship and better control. In effect, it makes the guns less safe.

“In short, proposals to ban ‘assault weapons’ are, for all intents and purposes, proposals to force law-abiding citizens to use firearms that are harder to fire accurately and more likely to cause them injuries, even when being used for lawful purposes.”

2. Semi-Automatic Rifles Not Significant Factor Behind Gun Violence

The attack on semi-automatic rifles shows an incredible level of hypocrisy from gun control advocates. Statistically speaking, AR-15s don’t constitute a problem. If this is really about safety and human life, the numbers point to handguns. However, the left knows that’s a much harder sell. With that in mind, they’ve demonized the black gun, painting it the mass murderer weapon of choice.

“Far from being the weapon of choice for would-be criminals, semi-automatic rifles are statistically the type of firearm least likely to be used for unlawful purposes, particularly compared to handguns,” Swearer said. “Over the last decade, rifles of any kind were definitively used in only 3-4 percent of gun homicides, and it is not clear how many of those deaths actually involved the use of ‘assault weapons’ compared to other types of rifles. The average American is, in fact, four times more lkely to be stabbed to death than he or she is to be shot to death with a rifle of any kind.

“Gun control advocates, politicians, and the media routinely characterize semi-automatic rifles, specifically the AR-15, as the ‘weapon of choice’ for mass public shooters,” Swearer continued. This is objectively incorrect. Over the last decade, more than half of mass public shooters have used handguns alone. Of those who did use rifles, the majority also brought other firearms, such as shotguns or handguns.”

3. Semi-Auto Rifles Commonly Owned by Law-Abiding Citizens, Used for Legitimate Purposes

The left likes to paint black gun ownership as a recent phenomenon. Additionally, gun control advocates often portray the AR-15 as a weapon of war. They say it’s used only to kill innocent civilians by mass murders.

“Over the last several decades, there has been a concerted effort by gun control activists to characterize certain semi-automatic rifles as ‘weapons of war’ that have ‘no business on our streets,’” Swearer said. “Ostensibly, this is to create the impression that the cosmetic features associated with firearms like the AR-15 serve no legitimate civilian purpose, and render a firearm objectively inappropriate for lawful uses like hunting, recreational target shooting, or self-defense. On its face, this is an absurd premise.”

“Moreover, federal law enforcement agencies refer to even select-fire AR-15 style rifles as ‘personal defense weapons,’ Swearer continued. “… It is little wonder, then, that many law-abiding citizens also rely on semi-automatic rifles as their own personal defense weapons, particularly in situations where law enforcement cannot protect the. Far from needing to be better protected from these rifles, law-abiding Americans benefit when they are allowed to defend themselves with them.”

4. ‘God Forbid’

To close, Swearer told the story of a woman who grew up uninitiated to firearms. She went decades before ever handling one, until her daughter took her to the range. They shot a handgun that day. The woman, according to Swearer, proved a terrible shotgun with a handgun from a mere few yards away. But then the woman picked up an AR-15, and she produced “a fist-sized grouping of lead in the center of that target from 20 yards out.”

That woman is Swearer’s mother.

“Now, I pray that my mother is never confronted with a situation where she is compelled to point a firearm at another human being, much less pull the trigger,” Swearer said. “I would infinitely prefer to live in a world where I never have to consider the possibility that someone would threaten her life or the lives of those around her.

“God forbid that my mother is ever faced with a scenario where she must stop a threat to her life,” Swearer continued. “But if she is, I hope she has a so-called ‘assault weapon’ to end that threat.”

The post VIDEO: Amy Swearer Gives 4 Points for No Assault Weapon Ban Before House Hearing appeared first on Personal Defense World.

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VIDEO: Amy Swearer Gives 4 Points for No Assault Weapon Ban Before House Hearing

War Is Coming!!! Are You Ready … Will You Fight?

Speculation & Opinion

The End is Already Here civil unrest
War Is Coming!!! Are You Ready … Will You Fight?

USA – -( Most of us don’t want a second Civil War, though many of us will fight, and a very few even think war is a good idea. But the obvious question is what would it look like?

The answer is nothing like the last civil war. I polished off a bottle of McCallum 25 with a couple of old friends who think about this stuff for a living. You’d like these guys, bright, inventive; each kept up at night by their serious jobs.

The causes of the last Civil War were economic. Tariffs on products coming into and leaving southern ports meant the agrarian south was at odds with the more urban and industrialized north. No such division exists today. The left does not control states; the left controls cities; everything else belongs to the people.

The days of massed armies are long passed. So what can we expect?

Most liberal politicians will be in hiding or deceased within the 1st 72 hours. A nation of riflemen will step up.

If you picked a City, let’s say Chicago. Close off the roads, shut down the airports and the City has maybe five days of food, close off fuel or power and in the winter it freezes in two days.

Pick a City like Los Angeles that imports all its water, close that down and inside a week, the City is dry.

Civil unrest will follow – our major cities will burn from self-immolation.

Only in the big cities will the left control law enforcement. The State Guard units will not fire on civilians and will not necessarily come to defend cities where they do not live; they have families of their own to protect.

With 120,000,000 gun owners in America, 3% represents 3.6 million people. There are 850,000 sworn law officers in the US. The numbers favor those of us who stand for freedom. In the face of these number the 1st thing the left will try to do is forcefully disarm the people in the big cities. That may not go as smoothly as they plan.

The fact is the left is driving this. They have no tolerance for anyone who does not think and believe as they do. That type of division can only lead one direction. We must break their grip on the narrative.

ANTIFA is the left’s, Brown Shirts. When these masked cowards move to take power who will stand in their way? American gun owners will rally to protect their neighborhoods. We will fire on the ANTIFA crowds to protect our children. It would be a quick fight.

With my group, when the bottle got closer to empty, we asked some other questions:

  • What happens when Mexico occupies Southern California and parts of Texas and Arizona to protect their citizens? What happens if they don’t stop there? With Gavin Newsom as the Governor of CA, will he welcome the Mexican invasion? Is the re-conquest of the lands lost in the Mexican/American war next?
  • Can Canada handle the 10’s of millions of refugees?
  • With our significant cities already being cesspools of disease and poverty, what happens afterward? How do you rebuild a country so divided with its major cities in ruins? Reconstruction will be harder than you realize.

So what can you do? Keep four weeks of food and water on hand. Buy a rifle. Pistols are excellent for personal defense, but there may be times when you need to reach out and extend your safe perimeter. Five hundred meters is right for me; your needs may vary. Keep enough ammunition and supplies to meet your family’s needs, then double it. Remember if your extended family knows your prepared you can expect guests.

Learn to store and handle your firearms safely and proficiency. (That is what REGULATED means in the 2nd Amendment.) Teach your children to shoot.

Get politically active, do what you can to stave off this conflict or prevent it.

So how else would it start? A President Booker throws gun owners in jail, or a President Sanders invited in blue helmets to help with firearms confiscation. Maybe it’s nothing more than a deranged kid with a grudge, like Gavrilo Princip.

Then again maybe it’s already stared and we’re just not paying attention.

Or it could be a plague. Thirty million undocumented illegal aliens huddled in barrios who shun the police and authorities are a potential biological timebomb. Combine that with an outbreak of Ebola, and a population scared of deportation it would give the disease time to spread. Would we see it 1st in our detention centers or on our streets? It would directly affect the Sanctuary City problem. Hispanics would take the brunt of the blame and be seen as carriers; the nation would begin to fall apart as moves to protect individual population groups unfold. Segregation would follow.

Remember, luck favors the well prepared. Have you thought long term about your family when it all goes south? I’d rather be prepared for something I hope never happens than left unprepared when if it does. How about you?

This article is a lesson for those on the left of thought; you cannot win.

The destruction you would invite is something to be avoided. Trump is NOT Hitler, in 2 or 6 years he will bow at the waist, thank us all for allowing him to serve; then he will walk away from power and enjoy his waning years. Be it Trump, Obama, Bush, or Clinton that is how it works. I hope you’re listening, so full of hate you on the left are that it blinds you to reality. Do not ring a bell you cannot un-ring.

I’m off to the range. Time to practice.

About Don McDougall

Don McDougall
Don McDougall

Don McDougall is an NRA instructor and member of the Los Padres “Friends of the NRA” committee. If he’s not at the range, you will find him setting the record straight with on gun issues and gun safety on AmmoLand Shooting Sports News.

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War Is Coming!!! Are You Ready … Will You Fight?

8BitDo’s SN30 Pro+ is a near-perfect Switch controller

I think Nintendo’s official Switch Pro Controller is brilliant. It’s a full-size pad with large face buttons, textured handles and a transparent shell that reveals a circuit-inspired pattern underneath. The accessory isn’t without its faults, though. The D-Pad, while a huge improvement over the left Joy-Con, is a bit stiff and spongy for my tastes. I also dislike the digital triggers, which barely depress, and the seriously steep $70 asking price.

The Switch has many third-party controllers to choose from, but none of them have impressed me like the 8BitDo SN30 Pro+. Terrible name aside, it’s an almost perfect pad that works not only with Nintendo’s hybrid console but Windows, macOS, Android and Raspberry Pi too.

Let’s start with the hardware. 8BitDo has rightfully earned a reputation for building modern, high quality controllers that ape those released for classic systems such as the NES and Sega Genesis. The SN30 Pro+ is clearly based on the iconic SNES controller, with a cross-shaped D-pad on the left, oblong start and select buttons in the middle, and circular A, B, X and Y inputs on the right-hand side. The "dogbone" design has been enhanced, however, with handles, analog sticks and two additional buttons — with a star and 8BitDo logo respectively — that, by default, act as the Home and Share shortcuts on the Switch.

It’s a stylish look that deftly balances Nintendo’s heritage with modern video game sensibilities. The controller also comes in three kickass color schemes: matte black, a SNES-themed grey and lavender, and a Gameboy-inspired cream and mulberry. I’ve been playing with the SNES variant but would happily own and display all three on my bookshelf.

Ergonomically, I prefer the SN30 Pro+ over the official Switch Pro Controller. The handles are longer and don’t dig into my palms as much during long play sessions. I like the symmetrical analog sticks, too, which ape Sony’s DualShock 4 — the other pad that I probably spend the most time with. The face buttons depress nicely and the D-Pad is practically identical to the one that shipped with the original Gameboy and SNES controller. It’s a simple, but proven design that works across a range of titles including Tetris 99, Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection and the entire Nintendo Switch Online library of NES and SNES games.

The SN30 Pro+ is lighter than the Switch Pro Controller, which worried me initially. The first time I picked it up, I was reminded of every cheap and horrifically made third-party controller I had to endure as a child. The SN30 Pro+ doesn’t flex, creak or generally feel like it’s about to disintegrate, though. My initial fears quickly dissipated, therefore, and I appreciated its scant weight whenever I threw it into my backpack.

8BitDo SN30 Pro+

Decent D-pads are hard to come by.

Unlike the Switch Pro Controller, the SN30 Pro+ has analog triggers that know how far you’ve pressed them. That’s handy for select games like Trials Rising where you need to carefully ramp up your acceleration. I also appreciated the deeper pull distance in Fortnite and first-person shooters such as Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. I don’t think the triggers improved my performance — I still haven’t won a game of Fortnite — but it made me more comfortable and, therefore, happier playing games competitively.

To my delight, the SN30 Pro+ has a removable battery pack. It lasts 20 hours on a single charge, which is only half the playtime advertised by the Switch Pro Controller. Still, I appreciated its flexibility. If you suddenly run out of juice and don’t have access to a power outlet, you can switch to AA batteries instead. It’s a useful backup for camping trips and long-haul flights that only offer a single USB port for charging your various gadgets.

You can wave the SN30 Pro+ around to perform basic motion controls. The experience is obviously inferior to a pair of Joy-Cons, but I didn’t have any problems waggling the pad to recharge my beam katana in Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes. The SN30 Pro+ has rumble, too, though it’s not the special "HD Rumble" that Nintendo offers with its Joy-Cons and Switch Pro Controller. 8BitDo’s alternative also doesn’t have NFC — if you love and frequently use Amiibo to unlock extras on your Switch, that might be a dealbreaker.

8BitDo SN30 Pro+

Every controller should have a removable battery pack.

To use the controller, you’ll need to go through the slightly long-winded syncing process. There are four different button combos that turn the pad on: Y and Start (Switch), B and Start (Android), X and Start (Windows), A and Start (macOS). Secondly, you’ll need to press and hold the pair button next to the USB-C port. The four LED lights at the bottom of the pad will then cycle to indicate that it’s hunting for a companion piece of hardware. Finally, on the Switch, you have to open the Change Grip/Order menu and, if required, hit the shoulder buttons. For all other platforms, the controller will appear as an available Bluetooth device.

It took awhile for the controller to sync up with my Switch. Thankfully, you only have to go through this process once on Nintendo’s system. For all subsequent play sessions, you can just press the Start button and the controller will instantly connect.

I was a tad disappointed that the SN30 Pro+ can’t turn on the Switch itself. It’s a small nitpick, but I love that with the Switch Pro Controller I can start playing Splatoon 2 or Super Mario Odyssey without standing up and walking over to my Switch Dock.

The SN30 Pro+ has one huge trick up its sleeve that makes up for almost all of its shortcomings: customization. Through the 8BitDo Ultimate Software, you can remap any button and create custom profiles. I created a simple one for the Switch, for instance, that swapped A and B around. (At long last, the face buttons line up with the ‘confirm’ and ‘cancel’ commands on my PS4.) Another window lets you change the ‘dead zone’ around each analog stick and the exact point at which a trigger registers your input. You can even set up macros that let you activate tricky combos with a single button press. (I shamefully used this to create a Hadouken shortcut.)

8BitDo Ultimate Software

8BitDo’s software is plain, but functional.

You can only switch profiles through the app, which is currently exclusive to Windows and Mac. For me, this wasn’t a problem — I used the controller’s default settings most of the time — but I can imagine how frustrating this would be for people that have game-specific profiles.

The SN30 Pro+ has a few other weaknesses. It doesn’t have a headphone jack like, for instance, PDP’s wired Faceoff Deluxe+ controller. I would have loved a simple carry case, too, to protect the pad on the road. And, at the time of writing, the pad doesn’t support PlayStation 4, Xbox One, iPhones and iPads, though 8BitDo has hinted that it’s working on support for iOS 13.

Otherwise, the SN30 Pro+ is phenomenal. It’s a true alternative to the Switch Pro Controller that makes sensible compromises. NFC and HD Rumble? I’ll happily sacrifice those for a better D-Pad and triggers. The customization options — while overkill for me — are brilliant and I love that I can also use the pad with my Android smartphone, MacBook Pro, and any gaming PC or Raspberry Pi-powered retro console I decide to build in the future. For $50, it’s a no-brainer. Even if you own a Switch Pro Controller, I would recommend buying one as your Player Two or Three pad. And, like me, you might find that you prefer it over Nintendo’s official offering.

Source: 8BitDo SN30 Pro+

via Engadget
8BitDo’s SN30 Pro+ is a near-perfect Switch controller