What should a front-end web developer know in 2017?

What should a front-end web developer know in 2017? by Tracy Chou

Answer by Tracy Chou:

The most basic building blocks for frontend development are HTML (for page structure), CSS (for styling), and JavaScript (for interactivity), so it’s always good to have a baseline understanding of these fundamentals first.

As of the last few years, React, a JavaScript library, is becoming the standard framework for frontend dev — and it’s even more appealing for devs that need to work cross-platform, with the advent of React Native — as:

  1. it has an easy and intuitive philosophy around defining views and state, making it clean, understandable, and debuggable, and
  2. it’s smart and efficient about rendering and only re-rendering components as necessary, dependent on state changes.

Very roughly speaking, React ties together HTML and JavaScript.

On the CSS front, no one codes straight CSS anymore, so familiarity with a CSS pre-processor like {Sass or Less} is also table stakes for a frontend developer in 2017.

Given the ubiquity of multiple form factors like mobile, tablet, and desktop, I’d also recommend familiarity with building responsive web views. There are nice JavaScript and CSS libraries that help with this, many building on Google’s Material Design guidelines.

There are many adjacent topics worth knowing as well, e.g. Webpack for module bundling (though the Webpack experience is pretty terrible[1], and the community’s choice of bundler seems to change every 1–2 years); JSON Web Tokens for authentication (displacing cookies, which was previously standard); Relay/GraphQL or {Redux or Flux}, depending on how deep you want to get into data flows and data fetching; not to mention general software engineering skills like googling for code to copy/paste from Stack Overflow [2], debugging, performance optimization, testing, project management, working with non-devs…





What should a front-end web developer know in 2017?


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