Where art thou front end?

June 25, 2013 - By

Front end developers are an interesting bunch. I find they generally come from two places: Designers who have learned to code their creations, or Computer Science types who needed to put a face on their creations. There doesn’t seem to be a source of pure front end developers – yet.

I really love this post from Nathan Smith (originally posted here, but since I don’t trust the source to always keep this, I’ll post it in its entirety):

“It’s a little bit difficult for us as [front-end developers]… We’re kind of unique in our field. That’s because the sort of stuff that we do, is not taught in college. ​ That’s huge, for the number of people we have doing this…​ So, everybody learned on their own.”

I think that’s why we (and everyone else) have such a tough time finding good front-end developers, as opposed to good designers or “classically trained” computer science grads (“server side” developers).

aka: Why recruiters are terrible at vetting FED candidates.


 Design is self-evident. With (or without) a design degree, good/bad design is obvious.

 Formal training in computer science is more measurable: CS degree, certifications, code compilation.

Anyway, that “learned on their own” aspect is also why I feel a (healthy?) sense of inadequacy with every project.

I never quite feel like I know what I’m doing. However, I take comfort in the fact that nobody else does, either.


— Nathan

First off, nothing makes me feel better than hearing some well-known dev admit that they’re faking it just like me!

It’s weird that no one seems to set out to work in front end! I think that may change though! I’ve had my eye on Team Treehouse since when it was called Think Vitamin. It’s a really excellent collection of video tutorials broken down by discipline. For learning how to make websites I don’t think you could find a better resource.

Being self-taught is a challenge. My greatest weakness is knowing what things are called (like :pseudo-elements are still just “thing” to me). Even having been making websites since 1995 I found that just reviewing some of the Treehouse quizzes challenged me to learn a couple things I’ve somehow missed, and actually learn what things are called. I’ve also had the pleasure of watching a colleague on the content team learning a ton from Treehouse.

Front end development is awesome. How could anyone want to work anywhere else?!

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This post was written by ArleyM