The extinction of the front developer profile

After the summer, the start of a “new school year” in Paradigma has been filled with new and interesting projects. Foreseeing this workload, we carried out an intense recruitment process in July and August in order to expand Paradigma’s Front team and meet the new demands, and thanks to this we have recruited very talented people. However, during the search process I couldn’t help but notice, in the most evident and heartbreaking way, a reality that I had already heard about but had not yet experienced in my own flesh: the front developer profile doesn’t exist anymore.

front-enddeveloper

The “world” of front development is going through its greatest moment ever. Thanks to the growth of technologies “on the client side” (above all Javascript but also HTML5 and CSS3), the “single page applications”, the “progressive web apps”, the “responsive design”, the hybrid applications (with Ionic or Phonegap), the front developer profile (or front-end developer, without mentioning full-stack developers) has become the most sought after in most published job offers.

This is obviously very good news for those who work in this sector. “Traditionally” the front world was reduced to website development in HTML and CSS and to handling DOM through Javascript. The websites were afterwards integrated with technology (read Java, PHP, .NET, etc).

This front work used to be carried out by the “front developer’’ and although they did a very valuable job, they didn’t get a lot of visibility in the final product’s value chain.

HTML and CSS were indecipherable technologies for programmers. The cross-browser, the ‘’floats’’, the ‘’z-index’’, the legacy/specificity and the CSS waterfall etc, all that made them run away terrified. Without even speaking about Javascript, with its weak typing, its lack of constructors, and the absence of compilation… The front developer was “the color guy” and their technology was considered like the ‘’PowerPoint’’ of the technological stack of the time.

maquetador-web

Fosil of maquetador found in the deposit of the “Sima of the Divs”

Currently, as I have previously said, the scene has changed a lot. Front-end is the top of the range. The smell from these sardines has attracted countless professionals from different backgrounds. A lot of back programmers have arrived to Front (the consequences of this would be enough to make another post and it would probably be very controversial) ‘’attracted’’ by the rise of frameworks/Javascript libraries.

These programmers that come with their “serious” programming experience, wanting to feel comfortable with the front toys, have brought with them potent framework that bring Javascript closer to the true languages, compilation/ transcompilation tools, task automation…

In order to be able to absorb CSS (or rather to be able to fit it into their mental programming frames) they have brought different types of pre-processors and complete CSS frameworks that implement a grid and the responsive without having to get your hands dirty, and with luck, without having to design or do UX.

Another thing that has contributed to this outlook is the great rise of startups and small development companies that don’t have a specific front profile and have created the full- stack developer.

Neither can you forget the LinkedIn bingo (Angular, React, Node, Polymer… sirs, they have crossed out a line), in which front end profiles have more names and framework logos than Fernando Alonso’s race suit and are sold by weight (1 kilo of Angular2, half a kilo of Bootstrap and 300 grams of Grunt, and cut them thin for me).

Well this summer we spent weeks interviewing front developers that knew how and wanted to develop. That used HTML5, CSS3 and Javascript in order to handle DOM. You may be wondering why and the answer is very clear. Because in Paradigma we develop in front, although later we integrate it in Angular (or in whatever). Because we give great importance to clean code and to semantics. Because we run away from the “divitis”, from unnecessary code and third party plugins ‘’that-you-have-to-put-in-just-because’’ and we seek the optimization of our code. Because less is more.

I always start interviews with a direct question: What is your strength in front? (straight to the point) and it is disheartening when interviewing a person with a front development background to hear them reply to you “I have X years’ experience using Bootstrap”, and if I ask them again, in the best of cases they tell me that “only for grid and the responsive’’ or they look at me with astonishment and ask: ‘’Don’t you always use Bootstrap?’’

And I have said ‘’they want to develop’’ because it has happened that someone leaves the company because they spent a week doing front development and they had come to program in Angular. How dare you…

We have had a really hard time finding good front developers. All types of developers with experience in a wide range of technologies and front frameworks have applied for the jobs, but very few front developers like the ones I’m talking about.

In the end we have achieved it and we are very happy to have brought in new talent to our team. But I still have the sad feeling of knowing that the next time we won’t be so lucky. Before all of this there were plenty! Now they are all supposedly full-stack developers.

Either we have all been hiring all the front developers out there (and really there are a lot of them but they are all happy in their respective companies) or this type of developers have vanished because nobody wants to do the job. Or it could be that there is no demand for this type of developer and they have had to evolve into Front architects. What do you think?

Foto de lcalvo

Luis Calvo began his professional career at Netjuice at the end of the 90s, at the height of the internet "boom", as layout artist and web designer. Expert in the use of 'client-facing' technologies (html, css, javascript, xsl, ...), he has participated in the development and conceptualisation of a huge number of websites, corporate pages and web apps for the biggest companies. He firmly believes in web accessibility and the standard-based development.

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