October 26, 2015

5 Tips to Help You Survive the Rise of the Front-end Engineer Hipster

BY :     October 26, 2015

There is never a dull moment in software development. You just learned the newest cool framework and before the project is finished it is old again and there is a new kid on the block. Every new project another framework looking for authenticity.

clemens-1Image credit: http://blog.dmfranc.com/post/113059677461/about-framework-fatigue


Welcome to the world of the constantly changing world of the front-end engineer hipster. Every team member knows a new cool framework to work with. Not only  does the front-end engineer gets exhausted ( front-end dev is getting exhausting ) of the fast life cycle of frameworks. Also the back-end engineer gets overwhelmed by new cool stuff, facing even more moving parts.

API’s evolve and innovate (see: http://www.programmableweb.com/ over 14.175 API to use), Cloud platforms release new functionality in an even faster way than front-end frameworks. The always stable .NET framework for Microsoft developers is splitting up in smaller parts and moved to an open source world and multi-platform.

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http://docs.asp.net/en/latest/dnx/overview.html

It is impossible to stay up-to-date with all new frameworks, packages, modules and platform changes. Keeping up with all moving parts will burn you down.

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Do not follow ‘survival rule 89’ by trying to learn even more frameworks than your peer programmer, you will never win. Follow these five tips to stay relevant as a developer and survive the ‘front-end’ hipster.

Survival Tip 1
Talk business. Don’t get out of bed for IT talks.
It is business value you need to speak. Your customer thinks in value, not in frameworks. Boring him and your team members with framework capabilities will bring you down to a level you don’t want to be. You never ever will win the bragging game who knows more about what capability. Focussing the discussion on business value will make you relevant for your customer and give direction to the team.

Survival Tip 2
Master the basics. Have in-depth language knowledge.
Every framework, package, module, snippet is written in a language. Knowing these languages will make you able to read the ‘new kid on the block’ frameworks much easier. Mastering these languages will even make you understand, find the holes.
For front-end development the languages to learn is JavaScript and EcmaScript. CSS and HTML are the other two. For back-end developers it depends, C# or Java will be good to stay relevant. Learning both will be better and to learn another language with like C++, Ruby, will make you even more interesting. But atleast master one of them.

Survival Tip 3
Get your patterns. Recognize a good solution.
Know many general reusable solutions for commonly occurring problems will make your life much easier. Sometimes they also call this experience. When a seasoned team member parses in one sentence the enthusiastic ‘new kid on the block’ framework, you know he understands patterns. Most new frameworks are also based on patterns, implement many patterns and are real life solutions for common problems.

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https://docs.angularjs.org/api/ng/directive/ngController

Already 6 years old but still a good list: 5 Best Design Pattern Books For Software Developer http://www.fromdev.com/2010/06/5-best-design-pattern-books-you-must.html

Survival Tip 4
Know the platform. It is not only code.
A software system exists out of more moving parts than only code. A text file with nicely written code
doesn’t bring any business value as long as it doesn’t run somewhere.
A reminder for front-end developers, most systems have a back-end and the same reminder for the back-end developer there will always be a front-end, either a UI or an API. One without the other won’t survive.

The platforms to understand aren’t only the default operation systems with the default web services on it. The Cloud takes over the ‘old’ platforms with Platform as a service offering. Cloud platforms offer all kinds of interesting and useful capabilities which needs to be understand, or at least know they exist.

Next to more possibilities for teams to deliver business value the cloud also makes this delivery faster and reliable. Look at this long list of services offered by Azure. https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/

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Note: These tips are helpful to cloud developers hipsters as well.

Survival Tip 5
Network. Make friends.
Accept the fact that you sometimes have to say “I don’t know let’s ask”. The time a single professor could build a time machine all by him self is already 30 years ago.clemens-6

The same that a single developer could build a full blown software system without real life team members and friends on the internet. You can’t know-it-all. Look for it, make friends and even important contribute back to the community (they do make your development life easier).

If you know any other tips, please feel free to add those in the comments box, below this post.

Clemens Reijnen

About

Clemens Reijnen is a Management Consultant at Sogeti, specializing in Application Lifecycle Management. He facilitates ALM courses throughout Europe and is a frequent speaker at many conferences.

More on Clemens Reijnen.

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    *Opinions expressed on this blog reflect the writer’s views and not the position of the Sogeti Group