This is my first blog post, so I will try to do my best to stay on topic and maybe start an interesting discussion. I’ve been doing front-end development exclusively for the last 6 years. Of course, I played around with mobile development (iOS, Android, Ionic…), game development with Unity, Arduino programming and a lot of different fun stuff but I considered myself a front-end developer until I had an interesting talk with employees of one IT company in my city few months ago, specifically with their front-end development team.

The idea of the company was to gather programmers and generally IT enthusiasts and to give them the ability to talk with the best people they have in specific domains of development. I saw that their front-end development team will host one of the talks, so me and my friend (also a FE developer) applied…

They were excellent hosts and after some initial introduction they started talking about what are their daily duties, responsibilities, workflows and techniques they use. Most of their initial talk included topics as using Adobe tools, mapping PSDs to a pixel-perfect HTML pages , etc. My first thoughts were hey, these guys know a lot more than you! I know how to crop an image and add some filters and that’s it with using Adobe tools. These guys are developers and Adobe Illustrator masters. But few minutes into the talk we still haven’t touched any JavaScript topic which was pretty weird for me but ok, they maybe wanted to do a longer introduction into their work as there were a few people in the audience that weren’t even developers. Since the talk continued in this direction I waited for them to ask if anyone from the audience has any questions and I asked the obvious: “In what MVW JavaScript framework do you usually code? Angular, React, Vue…?”.  They hesitated for a second and then their team-lead responded they don’t use them. They generally don’t use JavaScript, sometimes they dabble in jQuery but only if they need to. Basically they don’t do any web apps, they have one guy that takes their HTML and CSS and integrates them into an existing Wordpress themes and that is it. The entire front-end team of 10 people does only this, and there are people there, that consider themselves to be a “Senior Front-end developer”.

What I have is a malevolent curiosity. That's what drives my need to write and what probably leads me to look at things a little askew. I do tend to take a different perspective from most people.

David Bowie

It’s ok to disagree

So there I am, with my friend talking with a team of people about what it means to be a front-end developer. Didn’t really think this meet-up will play out like this but hey, it really is an interesting topic. My belief is that a front-end developer is a person who has an excellent knowledge of HTML, CSS and depending on the level of seniority has a good or excellent knowledge of JavaScript and at least one of the today’s most used MVW JS frameworks (not to mention using tools as NPM, Bower, Grunt, Gulp, Webpack, etc.). These guys didn’t agree with me and that is cool. Thing is, this can cause problems if one of those people applies as a senior front-end developer for a job position in a different company and realize they have different understanding of what it means to be a front-end developer today.

Next steps?

Today I touched this topic with several of my friends, some of them developers, some managers, some designers. Although they kinda agreed with my point of view, they suggested that it might be better to split this somehow but to still keep the word front-end in the loop. One of them had a good idea, to split it into two positions: front-end designer and front-end engineer. Maybe to remove the word developer at all as it can be sometimes ambiguous? What do you think? Do we need a standard for this?

 And no, the answer isn’t 42…