What It Means to Be a Frontend Developer in 2017

Photo of Artur Andersz

Artur Andersz

Jul 18, 2017 • 5 min read

Have you noticed the grumbling about the current state of the frontend stack and the overwhelming Javascript?

The attitude called JavaScript fatigue is becoming more and more widespread as the idea of a “frontend developer” stretches to accommodate more and more competences.There’s a lot you probably don’t know about your frontend developers’ every-day work. Let's dive in together and see how huge and limitless the world of frontend seems to be these days.

A Quick Look Back into the History

Yes, I called the people of frontend “developers”. Which now seems to be a normal thing, but it wasn't like that a few years back. The frontend field went through enormous transformation in recent years. Back in the day, when mostly static, not dynamic web pages ruled in the kingdom of Internet and JavaScript was used for adding snowflake animations, there was no such thing as a frontend developer. There were HTML/CSS coders. In simple words, people that were transforming PSD files into website code.Fast forward to 2017 and we actually have software that can quite efficiently export these files for us. The requirements that frontend developers have to meet nowadays are far more complex and demanding. Our customers don't want just web pages anymore. They expect fully interactive, multiplatform, close to native and blazingly fast experiences for their users.Our toolbox has grown shockingly. So did the possibilities and challenges we tackle every day. Below you can find a list of some of those challenges. It's not all we do, but it might give you a glimpse into the wonderland of frontend development

1. SPA Web Apps

The bread and butter of Frontend development is still here. We transform static designs into live websites. However, the definition of a website has changed and grown. There are a lot of things we have to take care of. Customers expect Single Page Applications where state management is crucial and complex. We need to take into account internal routing, make sure unit testing is done right while supporting different devices and browsers. To make our life easier we use frameworks and libraries. At Netguru we use Ember and React by default. However, there are many more: Angular, Vue, Meteor and Backbone, to just name a few.

2. Mobile Apps

So, you need to reach your mobile users. Worry no more, we've got you covered! We can actually offer quite a few solutions here, depending on your deadlines, budget and how close to a native application you want to be.
We start off with the widely used and known Responsive Web Design. It's the easiest solution. However, it is not a real mobile application. It's a website that fluently adjusts to different screen variations. Do you need to get closer to native? No problem, we can go with a Progressive Web Application. According to Google, it delivers experiences that combine the best of the web and the best of apps. You get native-like behavior, but without the need for installation or going through application store compliance.
Last but not least, there are the tools that make it possible to write native mobile applications with frontend technologies. At Netguru we opt for React Native, which is supported by Facebook. It's cutting edge technology that was used by Airbnb to develop their new mobile application.

3. Backend Development

Wait a minute! Did you just read backend? Yes, you did! Does it mean we do not need backend developers anymore? Well, of course we do. To be completely honest, it's a little bit deceptive. Thanks to Node.js, which is an application runtime environment, we are now able to write and run JavaScript on the server. Naturally, backend development is a way wider topic than just a language. However, Node.js makes the transition easier for Frontend Developers. If you want to learn more about how you can benefit from JavaScript as your server language, don’t miss out on reading our blog.

4. HTML Games

Back in the day, web game development meant one thing - Flash applications. Fortunately Flash is dead now! Does it mean we are done with games on the web? Definitely not! There is a rich list of JavaScript game engines that can be used to write games that will work across all devices. Take a look at phaser or pixi.js for reference. We can utilize those tools not only for games but advanced animations as well.
Still not convinced about web gaming? Facebook rolled out Instant Games worldwide this year. This new service allows users to play HTML5 games inside of the Messenger App which does not require a download, giving you access to a huge user base.

5. Data Visualisation

We live in the era of big data. We collect so much information it’s impossible to process all of it. The key to understanding data insights is proper visualization. The frontend toolbox comes in handy. With libraries like chart.js we are able to create beautiful, fresh and flexible charts that can be animated. Plain diagrams are not enough and you need something more sophisticated? Take a look at D3 gallery and let yourself be amazed by the endless possibilities of data visualization.


I hope this post leaves you with a better understanding and appreciation for the frontend craft. From single page apps, through mobile and backend development, to online games and data visualisation, it’s a complex and ever-growing field. Surely it’s hard to imagine a single developer that possesses all the aforementioned skills. That's why Netguru bets on a strong, versatile team that shares knowledge, both internally and with the public. If you have any questions about our approach to frontend development, drop us a line!
Photo of Artur Andersz

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Artur Andersz

After graduating in Computer Science and Econometrics, Artur changed his career orientation to web...
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