The predominant trend in web development is one of constant change. The knowledge necessary to perform the role effectively shifts constantly due to corresponding shifts in technology. Technology is becoming more complex to learn, even as it becomes easier to use, and this has the effect of changing the definition of a frontend developer each time.
Currently, being a frontend web developer means mastering a lot of concepts: APIs, libraries and tools. This post takes you through the vital steps to build a career as a Frontend Developer.
1. Understand the concepts of programming languages
HTML and CSS
As a frontend developer, obviously the first thing you should learn is HTML and CSS.
HTML is a markup language that deals exclusively with the contents of Web pages and applications, as well as its distribution. Although many people believe otherwise, HTML does not determine what the user interface (or web page) is going to look like. That is what CSS handles through its selectors and properties.
This clear separation between content/distribution and appearance is a win-win situation, as they can then be managed separately and, to some extent, be independent from each other.
Challenges with HTML and CSS
Although the basics of HTML and CSS are very simple to learn, they have some complex concepts (and many details) that many developers overlook. And that is when problems with interfaces arise.
In addition, there are concepts like Responsive web design or layouts with Flexbox and Grid, which can be quite a task. This is where a frontend developer needs experience in structuring HTML in a way that keeps CSS layouts practical.
Remember, piling up HTML on to pages, and hoping CSS will get you out of the mess, is not practical. Lay the proper foundation for understanding layouts, by learning the basics of good page structure.
Believe it or not, it is that powerful.
Today, it is even compiled with other languages, and you can use it everywhere, even on servers.
The fourth leg of this chair on which we will rely is the jQuery library, used by more than 70% of the world's websites. This library isolates us from many of the difficulties of using the language in its raw form, especially when creating user interfaces.
2. Keep learning new languages and stay updated
It is important for developers to determine if their knowledge in a particular language has become obsolete, or if it is still valid. It can also be useful if you have to make a strategic decision as to what language to use for the construction of a certain application or layout.
Browsers implement everything very fast, so today it is necessary to be up to date on those changes as well. Thanks to the availability of open-source tools, learning and implementing new languages has become quite easy.
Let’s learn about some alternatives:
3. Make the right use of APIs
The API is a set of calls to operate with another system, be it the methods or functions it offers us or its properties. The API is everything we use to be able to tell another system, with programming, to do the things we need from it.
Along with HTML5, many powerful APIs were launched, which increasingly narrowed the gap between native applications and web applications.
For example, WordPress has its functions API, with which you can build templates or plugins that use the features that CMS offers you. The jQuery library has a function API for DOM manipulation. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube all have APIs for other applications to use the services they offer.
Thanks to these APIs, you can now do almost everything: manage files, work offline, send notifications, make real-time communications, do low-level graphics processing to manipulate images and video, position users, create animations and transitions of states. The possibilities are enormous, and it is convenient to understand what is possible.
With React, developers need not worry about framework-specific code. Courtesy of the built-in multiple rendering optimizations and virtual DOM, React is extremely fast and helps save time.
In support of server-side rendering, which makes React best-suited framework for content-focused applications. It’s Redux supported framework, has functional programming concepts and the codemods integration help automate most of the process. However, its structure requires strong project leadership, as it leaves most of the decisions to the developer.
Also, when it comes to deciding the best way to write CSS in React, the community seems to be divided. Some prefer tradition CS modules/stylesheets, while others believe CSS-in-JS is the best.
There are other frameworks too, like Angular, from Google, which was created to be used with Typescript and support it too. It is surely the most demanding as it allows intelligence and leaves you with few decisions to make in terms of architecture and structure.
However, with so many varieties of modules, components, injectables, pipes and more Angular is a bit harder to learn compared to React and Vue.js.
However, while working with Vue.js one must be careful with over flexibility. It sometimes causes issues with integration. Also, Vue.js has a pretty small knowledge-sharing platform when compared to Angular and React.
5. Master the use of specialized tools
There are a number of specialized tools that a frontend developer must be able to use adeptly.
The complexity of the current developments in frontend makes it necessary to manage dependencies and automate tasks, for which tools are necessary.
- GIT: The magic wand for source code control. Currently, almost no development is conceived without this super tool. GIT is an open-source control system that can handle small to large projects at a lightning-fast speed. GIT documentation is available in both book content and videos. It easily outclasses SCM tools like CVS, Subversion, ClearCase and Perforce.
- Webpack: A module bundler manages and uses dependencies, automate certain tasks, and to be able to create optimized applications. It relies on plugins and loaders to traverse through the source to construct graphs.
Engineering colleges have outdated curriculums, and therefore fresh graduates often struggle to find jobs. It is imperative to stay current and relevant, in order to get the job you dream of.
Have we missed any important points? Share them in the comments!