Journal

nov 16, 2010 If a Front-End Web Developer Dies, Do We Bury the Body?

Let's define a Company X that has a relatively clean separation of front-end and back-end web developers (UI vs. Application). If X invests in a newer technology stack who does it ask for recommendations?

J2EE boot crushing HTML

If X is like most of the companies in my career history the answer is the application developers or consequently their leadership team. In some cases this has to do with the number of application developers, in some cases it has to do with the company's main tech offering, in other cases it has to do with UI developers being an unfortunate side-effect of using the browser for presentation. This diversity is a little more complicated by senior tech management whom themselves come from the glorious C++ and Java beginnings and have no idea, no interest, or harbor contempt for their front-end team. If code is written, but not instantiated, does it execute? Is someone who understands OOP, polymorphism, reflection, recursion, order of complexity, and the whole family of esoteric techminology the only person deserving to sip the fine digital wine? Will I stop writing in the form of questions? (No.)

If there is a silver lining to all this it's that X and others I know of through my network are the dying breed. The organizations themselves may even thrive financially but their dinosaur tech management has an asteroid delivery overdue. The lean nature of today's startups and the continued focus on design and UI performance has the online market salivating. You won't build a great UI without great engineers. Great engineers will only be drawn to other great engineers. Smells like Google but tastes like an Apple.

It's only a matter of time but we should learn from all of this. Don't promote solely on seniority. Don't promote because someone's CS degree mentions all the advanced data types you can remember. Don't promote because he/she knows "enterprise solutions". I wouldn't hire a hockey coach to teach an art class and you shouldn't hire a Java guru to manage your front-end developers. I know I should talk about the merits of a solid back-end team but fuck 'em; they've been calling the shots for too long.

For the record I consider myself a web developer. I work in Django, PHP, and the expected front-end technologies. I know Java and don't hate it but it's not the messiah some corporations expect it to be. Excuse the raving lunatic nature of this entry but I never asked you to read it...get off my lawn!

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