Updated: Jul 6, 2022
Who are front-end developers?
Front-end developers get to build everything a user touches and interacts with on the screen, such as layouts, information, engagement, etc. Front-end developers are both creative and tech-savvy, and act as the bridge between designers and back-end programmers.
So, how do you go about becoming a front-end developer?
1. Understanding the basics
In order to build a website, you first need to have a fundamental understanding of the web, how it is structured, and how your application fits within it.
What is the web, what is a server, what is a client, how do various devices communicate with each other, how does the website you build on your computer in San Jose end up on someone’s phone in Shanghai. Once you have a complete understanding of networks (i.e. IP addresses, internet protocol, packets), databases (i.e. SQL,NoSQL, caching), clients, and servers, you can then move on to the actual basics of web development that is coding.
Front-end developers work with the user (or client) facing side of the website. Their code runs on the client’s browser and determines how the website looks (i.e., the user interface, layouts, navigation, etc.), how it requests data from the server, and how it interacts with the client’s machine.
HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) is the foundation of any website. It is the code that describes the content of your page, which is then rendered by the browser. You can use HTML to add text, images, audio, video, and more to your website. HTML is easy to learn and the best part is, you can write it in any text editor.
CSS, like HTML, is not a programming language either, but a styling language for HTML. To put it simply, HTML describes the content while CSS describes how the content should be formatted – basically, anything that controls the look and feel of the page. This allows HTML to go back to its original job as a structural language.
2. Frameworks ,Command Line & Version Control
After knowing the concepts of writing basic front-end code to create structured, stylized, and dynamic websites. Let’s see how we can push this knowledge even further.
Each framework has its own pros and cons. Some are strict and fixed, while others are very loose and only give guidelines. You can do research to find the framework that works for you and use them to take your skills to the next level.
Command Line: CLI basics are essential to becoming a developer. The Command Line Interface (CLI) is a tool into which you can type commands to make the computer perform tasks.
Commands can be combined to achieve a variety of outcomes, and since you’re able to communicate with the computer directly, this is the more powerful and efficient way to control your tasks.
The most common CLI is the Bash Shell, which is the default on Linux and Mac systems.
Version Control: Every developer has their own ideas about the best ways to code/program a website, but they all agree that Version Control is the most essential part of building a website. Version Control manages all your project’s files so that you can keep track of all your builds and changes.
Some of the top-rated version control systems that you can learn are:
It is a design approach where front-end apps are divided into micro, independent and individual apps that work loosely together. The concept of micro-frontend is practically inspired by microservices. The source code for each micro-frontend is smaller than the monolithic front-end. This smaller codebase made it easier and simpler for developers to work simultaneously. Just like microservices, it also allows independent deployment which as a result reduces the chances of errors and risks to breakdown the entire system. And having micro-frontend as a skill will also be beneficial for your career as a front-end developer.
4. Testing & Code Analysis Tools
Testing front-end development is a technique where functionality, usability and GUI of a web application or software are tested. The core aim of front-end testing is to analyse the overall operations & functions to ensure that the user interface of the application is working as expected. Types of front-end testing include the following tests:
Unit Testing: Individual sets of codes are tested for their functionality.
Visual Regression Testing: Image comparison is done to recognise the difference between old and new code.
Acceptance Testing: The compliance of the system is evaluated with business requirements for the acceptability for project delivery.
Performance Testing: The responsiveness, stability and speed are tested to provide excellence in the performance of the application.
Integration Testing: Individual modules of the application are logically coupled and tested in a group to expose errors in the interaction between these modules.
Accessibility Testing: It is done to ensure that the application can be accessed by everyone. It helps to make the app accessible to those with certain disabilities.
End-to-end Testing: It ensures that the app is behaving as expected.
Cross-Browser Compatibility Testing: It is done to enable users to have a similar experience of the web app on different browsers.
5. Web Security & Communication Protocols
As a developer, you must know the importance of web security and communication protocols because connecting to the internet can cause major security issues. With the wide range of security protocols, you can easily determine the level of security needed for their applications and deploy it virtually. The major protocols for web security and communication to know about are:
IPsec - Internet Protocol Security
IKE - Internet Key Exchange
SSH - Secure Shell
SSL - Secure Socket Layer
HTTPS - Secure Embedded Web Server
RADIUS - Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service
TLS - Transport Layer Security
SET - Secure Electronic Transaction
PEM - Privacy Enhanced Mail
6. Static Site Generator (SSG)
Static site generator processes pages through a set of templates and raw data. SSG handles the build process before the pages are requested by users, i.e., the pages are ready to be served when requested. Static site generator is a compromise between CMS and hand-coded static site. Similar to CMS, it allows developers to use templates to generate web pages automatically, however, it automatically generates web pages ahead of time rather than waiting for the user request. SSG offers more flexibility, fewer server-side dependencies, better reliability, version control & testing and enhanced security.
Here is the list of some commonly used SSGs
7. Progressive Web Apps
Progressive Web Apps or PWAs are web apps that are built and improved using modern web browser APIs. PWAs take advantage of both native and web apps functionalities. It offers enhanced reliability, capabilities and integration to reach anyone, anywhere, on any device with just one codebase. So learning more about will help you in designing a more functional web app.
8. Responsive Web Design
Responsive web design is a perspective based on which the development and design of the web app or website should be done in such a way that it responds accurately to the user’s environment based on platform, screen size and orientation. Simply put, an application or web app should be designed in such a way that the web pages alter their appearance and layout to match the resolution and width of the device screen. By learning the way to design a responsive web app, you can make it user-friendly and improve the ranking in search engines simultaneously.
9. Package Manager
A package manager is a tool that automates the process of installation, configuration, management and elimination of the product dependencies and software packages. You should know the basics of the package manager and one of its tools.
Some popular package manager tools out there consists of:
10. Keep Learning
The web keeps changing and with advancements in technologies comes new methods and tools. So, it is essential to keep yourself up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies, and never stop learning. It doesn’t mean that what you have learned so far will be of no use. Your basic knowledge will always be an advantage for your career but you must keep updating your skills for better growth.