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"I'm Not a Front-End Person"

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Over the past decade, the Internet has exploded in popularity and crept into everyday life. In response to this movement, companies have shifted focus from desktop solutions to web based products. The need for highly skilled web developers is higher than it has ever been. Just as desktop computing brought an end to the mainframe era, the web is cannibalizing desktop software. Its ability to be hardware and operating system independent is the key to its success. Although native mobile applications for iOS, Android, and Windows are new on the scene they only add to the overall direction of the Internet.

With this knowledge, it is amazing how often the phrase "I'm not a front-end person" is uttered by developers. This statement is always disappointing to hear. Learning, experiencing, and becoming an expert at web development is not difficult. The time required is no greater than learning any other language. In fact, many say it's easier. Front-end development consists of three major areas. Once mastered, these concepts do not change. They are only enhanced from revision to revision. These areas are HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Each has its own language and formatting but are easy to understand.
Most developers have built an HTML page somewhere in their lives, but voice a general fogginess toward CSS or JavaScript. In a general sense, HTML contains the objects of a web page, CSS controls the display of these objects, and JavaScript provides the ability to read and manipulate said objects. The following are a few excellent resources for getting started:
As with any technology, as the years have progressed each language has seen minor or even major revisions. Many of these revisions were due to changing times and provided much needed functionality. For instance, JavaScript almost became a historical cliff note, but enhancements such as JSON, XML, AJAX, and Web Sockets brought it back from the brink and into the forefront. In fact, back in 2008, Microsoft's Scott Guthrie officially announced support for jQuery (a JavaScript library) in ASP.NET.
Recently HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript library's such as jQuery have been hot topics. Additionally, vendor solutions such as Telerik and DevExpress are offering robust per-built web toolkits. It may be tempting for non-web developers to jump into these areas, but before learning these technologies it's important to start at the beginning. Once this basic understanding is achieved, it will create a proper foundation to build on.

Published at DZone with permission of Zac Gery, author and DZone MVB. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)


Jammer Man replied on Fri, 2012/11/09 - 2:33pm

W3Schools?   LOL.  That site is more often wrong than right.  

There are some developers that really don't care to learn how to make pretty pictures, and focus their efforts and expertise toward the middle and back layers.  There's nothing wrong with that at all.

Peter Chon replied on Fri, 2012/11/09 - 5:32pm


Master of NONE

Job de Noo replied on Sat, 2012/11/10 - 10:47am

If you only focus on the technologies used, you are absolutely right. It is Css, html and javascript,  but a good " front-end person" does know a lot more than just these technologies.  I'm a java-developer myself, and can implement most things in javascript/html/css, but this does not make that I create good user interfaces. So in my opinion a lot more developers should be honest and admit that they are no front-end person.


Matthew Jaggard replied on Wed, 2012/11/14 - 5:02am

This article completely misses the point.

Like the other commentors, I couldn't disagree more with your article. Yes, HTML, CSS and Javascript are all TRIVIAL to learn if you're a coder, but that's really not the point. To produce a good front-end, you need design skills and a good knowledge of how people think. This is particularly hard for geeks to understand how non-geeks will approach their system.

Peter Chon replied on Wed, 2012/11/14 - 12:48pm

I'm not a back-end person!

So what about this? I can make the same argument about being a "back-end" person as well. It doesn't take a genius to be a back-end programmer. Perl, Python, Ruby, PHP (which are all PERL-based, anyways) JAVA, C++, MySQL, whatever - doesn't take much to learn. However it takes very long time and dedication to become a master of that language. I really don't know any programmers that doesn't takes the "lets google that" approach to any problem! so why can't a front-end person take over?

Also, in programming - you have a linear problem with a linear solution; front-end development has to deal with multiple factors like browser compatibility (even within the same damn browser), different devices, OS, marketing, clients, users!

I'm sure a lot of programmers are scoffing at how little I understand about the back-end complexities and uberness - well, it's the same for us. 

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