Metamorphosis

A ZYMR DEVELOPER’S METAMORPHOSIS FROM BACK-END TO FRONT-END UI DEVELOPMENT.

Assuming that you all are aware of loosely what back-end and front-end development is, I can say that although there is very thin, blurred line between back-end and front-end development, they still can be logically quite separate.

I started my career in our software company as a back-end developer, and have, in a recent project, moved into working on front-end development. So now I can safely say how it really feels to be on the side of front-end developing.

The following are things that I have learnt and observed during my transition into a front-end developer in the product engineering process:

  • Front-end development is always done in a hurry. Everyone wants the front -end side work done at lighting fast speeds.
  • You don’t need to do a unit test. You just develop the user interface (UI) and if it works well on the browser side, then you are done. The reason for this is that UI code is very difficult to unit test and once written, it is even more difficult to maintain.
  • The only valid testing you can do is “hallway testing”. For this, you can just stop any person walking by you in the hallway to have a look at the UI and test it. And the following is always true: “Everybody has an opinion.”
  • JavaScript is not just used for validations. Thanks to the various frameworks and engines available for and within JavaScript, it is easy to save, which makes the developer’s life easy.
  • The great developer war is always there. No matter how good the work is that you do on the front-end, it is relatively simple and usually not done at the level that back-end developers have to work. Front-end is considered to be the ugly side of development for back-end developers.
  • As a front-end developer, when you ask or tell a back-end developer that something has not been done correctly, , they usually respond with an “Arghrrrr… I am not going to do that, why don’t you do it on UI to handle this case. If I do that, I will just make the back-end dirty,” even if there is no “dirt” in doing that. 😉
  • You can’t just change anything without it getting noticed. While you can easily change a small code or even entire code of logic within the back-end without the user ever knowing about it, the UI side does not allow this. Even if you change the color of a button it will be noticed by everyone and feedback will soon start to come your way.

Some common sentences heard while in front-end development:

  • Can we change this to that? How about this? Hmm, go back to that. :/
  • Will this work in my phone or tablet? How will it look? 0_o
  • Can it be real time? :X
  • The site doesn’t work in Internet Explorer. X(

When you build experience in back-end development, it becomes quite easy to move into developing UI frameworks for the front-end, as you are very much aware of how to use frameworks and how to get the best out of it.

No matter whether you work creating cloud computing services at the back-end or front-end, you still need to involve logic when developing code, as the front-end has now become far richer and code-heavy than before. Language should not be the barrier. Whether it is in JavaScript or Java, once you know the logic, then you can easily apply the logic in it. It’s just a matter of syntax. Today, you have different JS frameworks available to you to make your front-end much more effective and well managed.

With the rise of SPA (Single Page Applications), a huge amount of what used to be done on the server that is built by ‘back-end’ developers now resides in the browser, and can be done by front-end developers as well.

[See also: Web UI / UX Moving Towards SPA – Even Enterprise GUI]

In my honest opinion, I enjoy being on both sides of development as you can gain experience specific to both, but at the same time you face relative hurdles of both sides as well. However, this is a great challenge to undertake and once done, it becomes a wonderful experience to know that you have been on both sides of developing an application. And there are benefits to knowing both, for example, if you know what you have in the back, then you can easily design the front to best suit it and also best fit the user’s needs. Actually, both are equally important parts for a cloud application to become a great success.

“A pretty UI without logic behind it is useless, and fantastic logic with a terrible UI is user-less.”

I will share more of my experiences and I will keep adding points in this blog as I get a chance. I am happy to hear your thoughts as well on this topic.

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This article was authored by Harsh Raval, who is a Lead Software Engineer at Zymr.

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