A few years back doing front-end work, especially on the web, was rather simple compared to the back-end where all the app logic used to reside. Nowadays, that changed. Front-end development has evolved thanks to powerful frameworks and libraries, supported by the evolution of the browsers and their respective APIs. In a modern web application, the front-end plays a crucial role, where not only front-end developers are dealing with the presentation, but also with logic, and algorithms implementations.
With all these new challenges into the picture, how do we, as front-end developers, can stay up to date with the latest, and learn more in deep the languages and frameworks that we use to build amazing app experiences?
Let me walk you through 5 things you should be doing to master the front-end development
Learn a bit about back-end
With the increased focus on user experience and usability, the importance of front-end has been increasing, and problems that traditionally were handled in the back-end are now being shifted to the front-end. It is also true that while front-end is reducing the complexity of the back-end in some areas, back-end is also evolving and specializing, introducing a new set of challenges for back-end developers.
As some of these problems are shifted to the front-end, having experience in how back-end deal with them, can be of great help when implementing solutions in our code. It is also true, that traditionally it was more important for the back-end to have more concepts from algorithms and data structures, while front-end was all about CSS+HTML, but now having that kind of knowledge is crucial for any front-end developer. So learn back-end, to be a better front-end developer.
But that’s not the only reason why learning back-end development is important, maybe even more important is to do it for the team. Teams can achieve greater collaboration when both sides sort of “speak the same language” and understand each other points of view. And you can even tackle some work from back-end to help out.
Front-end or Back-end, we are all developers, and we can help each other out as part of the same team.
Practice, practice and practice some more
To master any skill you need practice. Period. And this is particularly true for development. It is indeed true that we can acquire knowledge through books or posts like this, but if you want to master the art of development, you will have to code a lot.
Is it all practice good? Maybe not, practice new things, do coding challenges, sign up to hacker rank and smash it! Work on open source projects, re-write all projects, see what you can do better, etc.
Practice also by reading other people’s code, check out that amazing open source project you like so much, see how they do things, play with their code, it can introduce you to new points of view, patterns, designs, etc.
Let others review your code
If you truly want to master front-end development (or development in general) you need to find people who will review your code. When we write code for ourselves, or when no one questions our code, sure, we can get better as we learn and practice more, but it will be a slow process. By having someone with more experience, or maybe just a different point of view review your code, you can learn from their experience as well.
But for this strategy to be effective, you have to trust whoever is doing the review, and you need to be able to admit when you are wrong. Sometimes it is hard as development can be very opinionated and there could be more than one solution to a problem, but if we want to learn from others, we need to accept when our solution wasn’t the best. I’m not saying you should accept any change mentioned by your reviewer, but start a dialog with him/her, expose each other’s points, and then decide if you incorporate the feedback or not. Both sides, the reviewer and the reviewed can learn from this interaction.
Learn about design
Design, user experience, and technology work together to deliver great products. Designers are amazing at building the best screens, and interactions, and animations, in their own tools. And it’s your work as a front-end developer to transform that into products. Having a good understanding of design can help you bring the two worlds together, and increase the collaboration between designers and developers.
The product will be as good as its design and how its implemented, thus the communication between designers and front-end developers is crucial so that the code can reproduce the designer’s vision for the app.
And if in your team you have no designers, maybe you should consider getting one, but if that’s out of the question, knowing basic design concepts can help you build much better apps for your users.
Hang out with awesome people
We are social creatures after all, and learning or practicing a new skill can be easier and more fun when you have somebody who’s awesome at something, and who can point you at the right things and in the right direction.
Do your networking, include other developers in your circle, but also designers, bloggers, architects, product owners, etc… There’s something you can learn from everybody.
And finally, you can be a model for others as well. For me, it was crucial when I started to always have someone who was there to support me. From people I hang out with, to strangers in amazing communities, to bloggers and YouTubers who produced content for people like me. It’s amazing how many people are willing to help. And for me… writing for this blog, and all I do is my way to continue building the community that made me the developer I’m today.
Mastering the front-end is not about knowing all the functions in a framework or language, nor about writing perfect code, but learning to listen to others, know how to look for solutions to the problems, and have a good amount of experience. Rely on your team, and other fellow developers to help you out.
Note to be made, I’m still mastering my front-end and back-end skills, it’s a never-ending game, but I enjoy it every day!
Is there any area I discussed that you like the most? Or perhaps you see another point I could have listed? Please let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear about it.
Thanks for reading!