What it takes to be a modern Web Developer

Published 28th April 2014

I still remember the days when I started doing web development and every page was built using HTML tables. CSS was a new fad at the time and something I decided I better learn as people were beginning to talk about it quite a bit. How times have moved on since then. Standards have been put in place and we’ve all moved on for the better.

I believe that just now the web development world is going through another “maturing” phase as Javascript becomes more prevalent, more focus is put on “front end” and mobile development and the “build process” becomes a common term.

It’s not enough to make a web page using only PHP, HTML and CSS any longer. So many things have to be considered including performance, responsiveness, hi resolution displays, maintainability etc. To solve this problem we build and use frameworks, building blocks that compose the basic structure of a site that we build on top of. After all Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY) is a well known, and adhered to, software mantra by now.

But with all of this added complexity becoming an experienced web developer has become a much more complicated process. Frameworks come with their own learning curve which only adds to the time it takes to become comfortable in the proffession. I’ve been doing web development now for nine years and I feel like I’ve learned so much in the last five months.

For example my new app Artisan is an exercise is building what I would call a “modern” web app. The backend is simply a Laravel (PHP) powered API and the front end is built almost entirely using Backbone (Javascript) and Handlebars (HTML). All of the styling is done using SASS (CSS) and everything is compiled/minified/prefixed/hinted/linted using Grunt.

Without these frameworks and tools building a modern web app would take a lot more time and quite simply wouldn’t be viable. I believe that learning to use framework’s (like Backbone) and tools (like Grunt) is now a necessity in becoming a modern Web Developer. So what is the most important quality of a modern Web Developer? Being willing and able to constantly learn and adapt.