Not So Quite on the Front-End Development Front

What should we understand from the expression?As it seems, designers think these are hard to learn programming subjects and developers think these are unimportant, easy to learn things, not coding, not languages.

Both parties are awfully wrong.

And they are most certainly wrong leaving these important components of web design almost orphan.

There is a reason why the term “separation of concerns” exists.

Forget about the fancy abbreviations, when we talk about a “web page”, we actually refer to 3 main layers: Content, Style and Interaction.

Content is the king for a reason.

It is the very reason itself that we are designing something.

Without content, we can not draw a meaningful single line.

HTML may not necessarily be a programming language, but it is a language as the name implies.

It is a unique language like English for example.

It has its own set of vocabulary and grammar rules.

When we talk about writing HTML, we talk about translating the content to that language.

If you are fluent, your translation will be clear, accessible, meaningful.

Otherwise you are just copying and pasting the content into a sort of word processor.

The content lives in its own kingdom, unrelated to the other layers.

Then there is style, the other side of the medallion, giving a visual meaning to the content.

Content is agnostic of the style, but the style, as being in the middle of content and interaction, is dependent on the existence of content.

This time, I can not claim that it is a “language” but it sure is a collection of expressions, which makes it almost a design tool.

If you are lost in this definition or find it meaningless, please see Dave Shea’s wonderful gift to the community: CSS Zen Garden.

As we all know, the web is interactive.

The web medium enables us to create cause and effect relations.

The design is flexible and it reacts to the users’ actions.

It also adapts to the medium it is displayed on.

The status change of a button when hovered by the user is an interaction.

The information that appears only when a certain button is touched is an interaction.

And interaction also needs to be designed.

This involves CSS and Javascript when needed.

Let’s review Elliot’s statement under the light of the definitions above: In my opinion he is certainly right, these subjects fall under the responsibilities of designers.

Even if they don’t do the work themselves, they have to have a basic understanding of how these work, to say the least.

HTML and CSS, even though they evolved enormously, have been and I bet will continue being the constant pillars of web development.

They are at the very center of this industry and they are open-source by nature.

If a person with zero knowledge of web development would decide to get into the field, he/she could have written his/her first website by the evening, on Notepad.

The will to learn is enough, they can inspect every example by viewing the source code.

They can do endless trials and errors.

This, is the essence of this industry.

This, is how I started at this profession.

This, is very important to keep accessible by every one, so that this profession may continue to exist and stay relevant.

In Conclusion…The term Front-end development is generated from a programming logic perspective.

It is “front-end” for the aforementioned subjects live in the users’ browsers.

It is “development” for it involves writing code.

From a design perspective, this term is meaningless.

So, maybe we should never have called it “front-end development” in the first place.

It is the spot lying in the middle of design and development.

It is equally important as design and development.

Even if you consider it as the weakest link, a chain is no stronger than its weakest link.

The industry must and eventually will find the real value of this process.

In the end, these definitions will be redefined and the equilibrium point will be found.

Those fancy frameworks will be replaced with better ones, most of the technical tools we use today will be irrelevant (as Flash has been) but the very roots of our craft, HTML and CSS will prevail.

Further reading:* The death of “front-end developers”* Tales of a Non-Unicorn: A Story About The Trouble with Job Titles and Descriptions* The Great Divide* HTML, CSS and our vanishing industry entry pointsThank you very much for bearing with me if you have made it this far reading this rant.

I am almost one hundred percent sure that this article is filled with inaccurate and questionable statements.

But I will not let this reality to stop me from sharing my humble opinion this time.

If there are points that you disagree please let me know in the comments.


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