Discovering my love of “front-end” development / Being more pragmatic

Lately I’ve been noticing a trend with my skill set – its been increasing which is always great, but also starting to veer in directions that are alternate to that of a typical “.net developer”.  I say this because, for all intents and purposes, I am a typical “.net developer”.  Every recruiter I get a call from always has a “great .net opportunity that you would be perfect for!”.  I’ve always prided myself on this notion, always considered myself a .net developer, and never thought there really should even be a world that exists besides .net development.  The fairly recent inclusion of MVC in the .net world of web development solidified that thought for me, or so I thought.

I had a debate with a friend who’s shop decided to ditch .net altogether and go exclusively Ruby on Rails.  [gasp]  “Well, good luck with your career!” I sarcastically remarked.

Fast forward roughly 6 months, and I kind of feel like an idiot.  I’ve been discovering all of these great new front-end frameworks (Backbone, Angular, Ember, et al) and I keep noticing the same trends over and over – most of these are built on top of a Ruby on Rails back-end or some other NON .net back-end.  Because of that, I’ve been trying to get into more “non” .net development like RoR and node.js.

I’ve also noticed something else about myself – I’ve never been more interested in my career, progressing my skill set, and learning than I am right now – and I can attribute that directly to my realization of how much I love “front end” development.  I’ve always fancied myself more of a back-end guy – digging into all aspects of C# development, database design and integration, service layers, etc.  I realize now that I only really liked that aspect because of the raw coding involved.  I love coding, pure and simple!  With the recent transformation that the web is experiencing and the onslaught of truly hardcore JavaScript frameworks and design patterns, I feel like I have finally found my calling!  To that end, I’m finally realizing the power of JavaScript and how much I love it as a language.  I recently discovered node.js, and doing web development with ExpressJS on a node.js back-end   This was an awesome discovery for me because it instantly made sense, and I instantly felt comfortable with it and instantly wished I was working full-time doing node development instead of .net 😉

I have been spending so much time working with JavaScript, I’m appreciating that the front-end truly is agnostic to the back-end.  Anything can run in the back-end and it really doesn’t matter.  Because more and more of the presentation layer is being processed and handled by the browsers nowadays, the back-end is becoming less and less tightly coupled with the front-end.

Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way saying or suggesting that the back-end is going away or less important (obviously).  I’m merely suggesting that the back-end and front-end have never been more separate than they are today.  Which is a good thing!

Update 11/17/2013

Figured I should update this post as it still gets a bit of traffic.  In August of this year (only a few months after I wrote this post) I was contacted by AWeber and started a new job as a purely Front-End developer.  The beauty is that at AWeber its all open source!  Since I’ve started, I’ve worked primarily with (lots of) JavaScript, Cake PHP, some Python, node.js, Backbone.js, Angular, jsClass, TDD (in JS, PHP, and Python)!

3 thoughts on “Discovering my love of “front-end” development / Being more pragmatic

  1. I used to very similar to you. I drank the Microsoft kool-aid and swam only in the Microsoft pond. To the point that I didn’t even want to learn jQuery, nHibernate, or almost any other 3rd party library, because it wasn’t Microsoft.

    Ultimately, I fell off the Microsoft wagon when my wife introduced me to her Mac laptop. I would occasionally make snarky remarks at her and just shake it off. Eventually, I got hired on to a company who (mostly) did .NET development. However, there was an internal development team who was prototyping some software in Ruby on Rails. After seeing some of the work that they were doing I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and starting learning Ruby, Rails, and Prototype (at the time).

    I eventually fell in love with the Ruby language and left the .NET world for a while. Swapped over to work on that internal team and picked up a Mac as my primary development machine. I still swapped back over to using C# and .NET framework as my primary language (it’s the biggest demand in my area), but the knowledge and information that I picked up from developing on the Mac and learning a dynamic language like Ruby was unbelievable helpful to my career. It truly does open up new doors in the way you write your .NET code.

    The Ruby on Rails framework is absolutely amazing to work with. Even as nice as the ASP.NET MVC framework is to work with. Rails just has a beautiful simplicity that is hard to compete with. I’m not saying that MVC.NET is better or worse than Rails, but in my opinion, it’s good to know the way things work in Ruby and Rails in order to try and accomplish those same principles in .NET.

    Anyways, good for you on stepping out of your comfort zone and in to Javascript. I’d highly recommend tinkering with the Ruby language (even if it’s outside of Rails). It really is a good language to have under your belt.

    Thanks for the read.

    Like

    • Hey Bryan, Thanks for the info and advice! I was tinkering with Ruby (very very little) for a bit there and kind of backburnered it in light of discovering node. I definitely plan to try to get back into RoR by the summer. Thanks again for the comment!

      Like

  2. Being myself a .net developer since v1.1… winforms, asp.net, asp.mvc and a little on wpf I was in that same movie you were.

    Last year all of the sudden I began to get bored of doing the same thing over and over, it looked like once I’ve had the solution I was just too lazy to code it.

    And then, I tried node.js… was an experiment at first. I created a linux vm and played around with it like 2 months. Once I figured it out how to make it happen (it was not more difficult, just very different angle to think) I stopped taking new .net projects.

    This is my second real project I’m working on with node.js. I use angular.js at the front-end for SPA. At the backend I am still tied to .net some way, since I believe the node.js ORM are just too young.

    So, I work with node.js on linux machine and .net with VS on windows machine. When it is time to test and deploy I use mono on linux.

    So it looks like what happened to me is not so strange after all.

    It was nice reading your post. Cheers.

    Like

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