Why would anyone work on frontend?

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Jun 12 90 Comments

Not technically challenging, playing with pixels and colors all day, using over engineered useless abstractions, and jumping from one framework to the next every year, all just to show some text on a screen?

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TOP 90 Comments
  • New / Eng zucker-f
    A lot of people who don’t understand how frontend has evolved always say this. True frontend can get boring if you are not working on challenging tasks. But UI’s are not the same as they were before web 2.0. A lot is now being expected from UI, complex state transitions & updates. A lot of logic & concepts that used to live on the backend have now been moved to the frontend. With browsers & personal computers getting more powerful, the thin-server & fat client will continue to happen. ES6 today is not your dads JavaScript. It has changed & improved so much & has led to the creation of brilliant pieces of engineering like ReactJS & Angular. Of course there’s a ton of shitty frameworks everywhere but you can say the same for any popular language. Having worked on the backend, it can also be boring. Let’s face it, the bulk what is being done in FAANG or any big co is CRUD. When was last time you used some complex data structure to optimize some complex stuff. I bet you just updated the GET request handler in your app for the 5th time this week.

    Frontend Engineering is hard
    Jun 12 2
    • National Institutes of Health TntK76
      Also with more Serverless architectures (have AWS etc handle your backend work), front-end code will be even more heavily emphasized.
      Jun 13
    • New NidI04
      Sure, the OP oversimplified it, But front end is on average not as technical / computer science oriented as back-end. Especially fields like vision, ML, cryptography etc.
      Jun 16
  • Clover Health sses
    Why would anyone work on back end?

    Not technically challenging, using libraries and doing CRUD all day, overengineered, useless abstractions and jumping from one REST framework to the next every two years, all to just return some JSON in a payload?

    Wow, Mad Libs *are* fun!
    Jun 12 8
    • Bloomberg / Eng
      YUNOSlayer

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      YUNOSlayermore
      @Bloomberg not true, you assume I’ve only ever worked at BB ...
      Jun 12
    • Clover Health sses
      @Bloomberg (both of ya), the point was that generalizations are easy, but wrong. 🤦‍♂️
      Jun 12
    • Bloomberg / Eng
      YUNOSlayer

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      YUNOSlayermore
      Fuck off Clover let me and @Bloomberg chat in peace 😂
      Jun 12
    • Clover Health sses
      🤣😂😘 I actually know a lot about the BB terminal, anecdotally at least. I had a friend who worked there. He almost left the industry thinking SWE was this archaic. I feel for you.
      Jun 12
    • Bloomberg / Eng iVX372
      Fortunately, many of us don't work on the Bloomberg Terminal
      Jun 12
  • It’s easy and it pays the same as backend engineering. Why not?
    Jun 12 4
    • Yelp
      bitch.pls

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      OP
      Good explanation
      Jun 12
    • Amazon hot 🍞
      The real answer, folks
      Jun 12
    • New trrbbb
      I get paid 260k to write front end in my boxers at home, bite me.
      Jun 12
    • Flipkart / Eng flipped
      Yup.
      It's the easier way to get into good tech companies, without knowing a shit load of Algo ds
      Aug 27
  • Dropbox / Eng
    DrakeAubry

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    DrakeAubrymore
    Cause it’s hard
    Jun 12 11
    • Bloomberg / Eng iVX372
      It's mind-numbingly easy if you use Bootstrap. Even without it, I'm still bored to death.
      Jun 12
    • New / Eng Hoik
      @yunoslayer yes. Not to mention you also need to learn webpack and broswer dev tools, source maps etc. You can increase the performance a lot by using so many techniques that I am not aware of
      Jun 12
    • Bloomberg / Eng
      YUNOSlayer

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      YUNOSlayermore
      You still missed it, ‘fastly’ is not a word.
      Jun 12
    • New / Eng Hoik
      No you missed it. My English is not the problem here. Not a native speaker. On top of that typing on phone is hard and I am lazy hence I dint pay attention to grammar and typos.
      Jun 12
    • Bloomberg / Eng
      YUNOSlayer

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      YUNOSlayermore
      Not a native engineer either, clearly 😂
      Jun 12
  • Cisco H1b Sucks!
    try to sell the product without UI .. you will get the Answer 😊
    Jun 12 3
    • Yelp
      bitch.pls

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      OP
      I can sell machine learning models and data, I can sell data processing software, I can sell databases, none of which requires UI.

      If you meant for public consumption, look at the most popular apps, is their UI really that complicated? It's just lists with text and photos.
      Jun 12
    • Bloomberg / Eng
      YUNOSlayer

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      YUNOSlayermore
      That logic can be reversed too, what good is a product with only UI? 😂
      Jun 12
    • Percolate / Eng SkLB71
      Go take a look at google docs, one of the most popular web apps and try to imagine building the UI there. You ever played around with the inline commenting feature? Pay attention to the the fuzzy logic for when and how comments reorder and shift when adding comments and editing text. Note the smooth animations. Note the real time collabration feature.

      Now build that UI, make sure it's all testable by automation so we can prevent regression errors with updates and make sure everything is liquid smooth at 60 fps on all major browsers.
      Jun 12
  • Apple / Eng VGqx42
    Isn’t backend just scripting?
    Jun 12 4
    • New / Eng Hoik
      Lol roasted the op pretty bad. Now he will use all fancy words like microservices devops databases to justify answers all the while forgetting equivalent things on the frontend
      Jun 12
    • Amazon ilzt07
      We use Java!!
      Jun 12
    • New / Eng Hoik
      @amazon so you use Java script? 😂
      Jun 12
    • Clover Health sses
      Well, let's not get silly. The only similarities between JavaScript and Java is the name. It was a PR stunt between Netscape and Sun (now Oracle). There's literally no derivation.
      Jun 12
  • Amazon lgtmshipit
    You remember UIs of apps from 20 years ago, when the frontend was hacked together by the same devs? Yeah, they were pretty forgettable.
    I do think though that having so many frameworks that keep dying and created is overly complicated.
    Jun 12 2
    • Yelp
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      OP
      UIs are still pretty forgettable.
      Jun 12
    • Yelp
      bitch.pls

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      OP
      Everybody is doing the same thing
      Jun 12
  • New
    ( .)(. )

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    Full stack all the way.
    Double the opportunities.
    Double learning curves.
    Double maintenance tasks.
    Double TC? 😬

    Also I get to do something like this:
    Lets have a meeting between frontend lead and backend lead. Oh wait, thats me and thats me 😂
    Jun 12 0
  • Adobe HaroldWren
    I am backend ML specialist. Many of the replies here are “it’s not hard” but I think that when I watch Olympics too. When you see someone who has worked for years to hone their skill perform you think “I can do it too”.
    In reality user interaction is pretty complex and whatever you think of es6 or typescript as modern language, it is a very crappy tool compared to C++. So FE are solving a hard problem with a crappy tool and that’s always hard.
    I am not disparaging JS or TS, it is a very hard problem to have something that works consistently on many platforms. My stuff is conceptually hard but I know centos 7 with all its quirks. And lately native GO in Docker.
    One more point, every stakeholder in the bus think they are a front end expert. When VPs come to me they know I am ML expert, they seek my input. When VP looks at the front end she immediately has an opinion.
    Lastly, FE is getting harder. As the growth of bandwidth and the growth of data collide there is more incentive to put more logic, even ML, into front end.
    Jun 12 2
    • Bloomberg / Eng iVX372
      I'm a bored front end dev with a math degree from a no-name college, and recently completed Bloomberg's intensive 4-month ML training. I want to do ML full time but my manager is only letting me work on it 10% of my time. I've looked into switching teams, but all ML openings are either not truly ML, or looking for an experienced dev. Any advice on switching to ML in my next role? I've started doing Kaggle but I'm not sure if that will be sufficient, especially if I don't place in the top 10%.

      PS: I kind of agree with you, but ML is still more challenging and interesting. Regular programming is just logic. Building great ML models requires logic AND deep math knowledge and intuition, and is far more challenging imo.
      Jun 12
    • Clover Health sses
      I completely agree with Adobe. ML requires deep math knowledge and intuition, but FE requires understanding heuristics and how people and personae work, which is equally challenging for some SWEs, considering people aren't an exact science and the answer is different in a lot of scenarios.

      Not only that, but there's a whole world of accessibility and usability beyond the mouse and finger taps for interaction. It's a huge challenge to think about and support.

      I understand it doesn't interest you, and I totally support your desire to move to ML, but that makes it none the less challenging and exciting for those of us it does.
      Jun 12
  • Google DLpS64
    Is this some troll post? FE work can be very challenging.
    Jun 12 5
    • Challenging? Lol.
      I created a mobile app and several front ends with angularjs without any knowledge of java script. Took just a couple of days to get used to it. Not a rocket science.
      Jun 12
    • Apple / Eng VGqx42
      Lol I’d love to see that trash UI
      Jun 12
    • Google
      kielbasa

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      kielbasamore
      It’s not hard, but isn’t that true of any programming language, library or concept? You spend a few days learning it and master it with experience. Not sure why the discussion is about how hard things are, like it’s some kind of honor to learn something hard. If you want hard then go do math proofs or study quantum physics. Programming is trivial by comparison.
      Jun 12
    • No, it’s not true regarding backend work. FE has no term if scalability at all.
      Jun 12
    • Salesforce DREAMkid
      Have you ever heard of browser compatibility? How long does it take for the first paint? Is yours PWA? How are you optimizing for low latency connection?

      Does your app shit when it sees IE9?

      you're welcome :)
      Jun 13
  • Oracle pointeduho
    Instant gratification. No need to compile or build, for the most part
    Jun 12 0
  • ActiveCampaign / Design marshattr
    Unpopular opinion but back end and and even full stack devs often just miss the finesse of front end. I see it all the time, and it makes a difference. As a designer I also see first-hand how ux and impression of ui in an application/website can make or break whether that user has a positive experience.
    Jun 12 6
    • ActiveCampaign / Design marshattr
      I completely agree! I was speaking more towards visual and user experience/interaction finesse, some of which is handled with back end but much of which is handled with front end. I've just heard so many back end engineers (many on this post) saying that front end languages are easy to learn, esp with frameworks. And that is somewhat true, but completely negates all of the little details that go into clean front end.
      Jun 12
    • Clover Health sses
      Totally agree. Call me an altruist: I want us all to appreciate each other 😂😵
      Jun 12
    • ActiveCampaign / Design marshattr
      I'm a designer and into FE as a hobby. I previously worked at a startup with no front end engineers and let me tell you, both ui and ux as a whole were a nightmare, even though the back end was solid 😬
      Jun 12
    • ActiveCampaign / Design marshattr
      💯 agree, just had to defend fe when all the initial comments were beating up on it
      Jun 12
    • Clover Health sses
      🙌 FE is truly still actively evolving. We're all trying to figure out what UI/UX are truly useful and what are trends—and how much of that to balance with human aversion to change. Not only that, but both browsers and the JavaScript language are hitting major strides in advancement. It's truly too much to keep up with most days, even for seasoned FE devs (20 YOE here). I envy new-ish devs who are coming into this fresh.
      Jun 12
  • Salesforce qbst70
    Because life on command line sucks.

    People really take front end engineering for granted. It's not as simple as making an API call ( in few cases)
    Jun 12 0
  • Oracle pointeduho
    Mad respect for front end once I tried it.
    I think ppl get it confused with CSS/formatting work. But at big companies, formatting is mostly modularized away from you. The remaining part is just as deep as back end. Tbh you are missing out if you've never tried it.
    Jun 12 2
    • Clover Health sses
      I appreciate such a go-getter attitude about different layers.
      Jun 12
    • Oracle pointeduho
      O yeah and no more waiting for long-ass builds and deployment steps! Often times, all you gotta do is look in another window to see your changes take effect.
      Jun 13
  • Google
    kielbasa

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    kielbasamore
    The main reason people work on the front end is to make the product look good and work well. Is back end harder? Probably, but depends on what: writing basic SQL or training ML models? In today’s consumer apps, if you don’t have a good front end, then consumers won’t take the product seriously. Think of other consumer products like cars or clothes, if they don’t look good or if they are hard to use, consumers won’t buy them. Most engineers don’t get this because they have a very different mindset and don’t usually empathize with “regular” people.
    Jun 12 2
    • Percolate / Eng SkLB71
      Isn't that part of what makes FE hard? Understanding users?
      Jun 12
    • Google
      kielbasa

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      kielbasamore
      Yes, plus it’s visual and not abstract so everyone (PM, leadership, users, random SWEs, etc.) and their dog has an opinion. Negotiating with people is hard and frustrating.
      Jun 12
  • Amazon amaholic
    I’ve met many people who thinks any SWE work is very easy and anyone with EE/Math/Physics can do those with minimal effort.
    Jun 12 2
    • Amazon hot 🍞
      That's because a math major is to a CS major as a CS major is to a psychology major.
      Jun 12
    • Clover Health sses
      Psych is actually superb for FE/UX work. Ties right into HCI
      Jun 12
  • Cadence DJQr67
    Because, craigslist.
    Jun 12 0
  • New trrbbb
    bet you don’t vent on FE when you’re at home watching pornhub
    Jun 12 1
    • Clover Health sses
      Oh snap!
      Jun 12
  • Percolate / Eng SkLB71
    The work life balance is muuuuch better. FE work generally ends when you leave the office, rarely get paged due to frontend.

    No constantly having to deal with random P0 bugs from some failed background job or incomplete migration, not having to wait a day for code to compile and having to wait an eternity for code to build and deploy
    Jun 12 0
  • Medallia Maximus8
    Faster promotions, lesser competition, greater visibility for your work where as no one cares how api was built and who built it; if it looks fancy fe Dev gets the limelight (broader biz audience). Nevertheless both fe and be are equally weighed. It’s boils down to personal interest and preferences.
    Jun 12 0