Front-end development has changed impressively over the last two decades (or since the beginning of the digital revolution). The possibilities have grown, but things didn’t get less complicated. Which evolution has this business gone through?
When Adobe Photoshop was proudly announced as the groundbreaking design tool in 1990 and CSS1 made its entrance six years later, a front end developer’s main task became to create pixel-perfect CSS and HTML based on meticulously sliced PSDs. HTML/CSS was primarily judged by how well it replicated a given design. There was no real “development” taking place on the front-end side. The web was a collection of documents that were hyperlinked together, carrying on the conventions of print media.
The front-end landscape has become flexible and dynamic in many ways. New tools are invented every day and are discussed by a considerable, worldwide community on thousands and more blog posts. In short, innovation has become the crucial key in the business sector. It-companies stand or fall by making the right choices in the extensive development offer. Today’s fear is that front-end developers rely too much on the overload of existing frameworks and stop pushing for better solutions.
Instead of considering a web page as an entity, front-end developers start deconstructing the page into reusable, scalable and maintainable components. Together with these new insights in HTML, CSS architecture gains importance and is considered more object oriented (OOCSS and SMACSS).
Developers presently do an effort to keep plugins, libraries and frameworks small and specialized, and consequently not bloated with useless code. It becomes a challenge to keep the CSS as small as possible while the demand for large-scale projects is only increasing. In addition, after Steve Jobs and co entered the scene, device proliferation has introduced new issues concerning adaptive content, responsive design, and device-specific rendering.
Front-end developers will continue to commit themselves to improve efficiency, usability, flexibility, performance, accessibility, and simplicity of the code they write. Tools (like Macaw) that create their own code based on a simple design, won’t be able yet to replace the work of these coders.