What to learn next as a front-end developer

Posted by Vernon Joyce
January 22, 2017

As a frontend developer, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the dizzying number of frameworks available to choose from. We work towards improving our skills, but knowing what to learn next is difficult; especially when you are just starting out. This article will help you make an informed decision about what to learn next as a front-end developer.

The great thing about development is that it’s always evolving, which gives developers a variety of study and career possibilities. An important thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong framework or language when it comes to front-end. Some of the front-end developers might recommend some specific frameworks, but the framework you choose to work with should be one you love. You should choose a framework you enjoy, which compliments your workflow and which ultimately could land you your dream job.

Clients generally aren’t interested in how it’s built, as long as it works. You don’t buy a pair of jeans and think about how they were woven, you just wear them. There are however some exceptions to this rule. Working in a tech hub like Silicon Valley for example, your clients or employers might require you to use very specific frameworks.

With this in mind, let’s look at some tips and tricks on how you can improve skills and grow your career as a front-end dev.

Start by asking yourself where you want to be in five years time. Without a sense of direction there is no way you can accurately decide on a skill to learn. The type of framework or skill very much depends on the type of career you want to lead:

1. A dev-ops role:

In this case you should be learning about both front- and back-end technologies. Get an overview of the tech involved on a server level so you have the knowledge to effectively make technical decisions. This could also translate to any team leader role, being knowledgeable allows your team to look to you for guidance. This also very much depends on where you live as each industry in each County could vary. This sort of role requires you to be very knowledgeable, so a lot of reading and experience is required to get to the required level of expertise, so start soon.

Frameworks or technologies could include: PHP or .net technologies, SQL or MySQL, AngularJS, React, Node.js, server technologies like Apache or IIS, UX tools like Adobe XD, unit testing tools like Qunit, knowledge about how DNS works. It all depends on what interests you, but learn as much as you can.

2. Full-stack developer:

Pick a back-end language like PHP and get really good at it. For added efficiency, learn some design or UX theory. This will enable you to roll out a project by yourself from start to finish and make informed decisions about building good products.

Frameworks or technologies could include: PHP, .NET technologies, Ruby, Java or Python for backend. For UX and UI, learn Bootstrap, Adobe XD, Photoshop.

3. App developer:

This is without a doubt one of the faster growing industries in South Africa. There is a lot of opportunity in the app industry and many frameworks to choose from.

Frameworks or technologies could include: Ionic, AngularJS, CSS and HTML with Adobe Phonegap, Apple’s Swift.

4. Be better in a specific role:

If you want to just be a better front-end developer, then make sure you know your basics very well. Simply knowing CSS and HTML isn’t always enough, you need to know it intimately. Then learn Javascript and only then move on to frameworks.

Frameworks or technologies could include: Some of the big ones are AngularJS, React, Node.js.

Although the front-end industry is often abuzz with frameworks like AngularJS, this does not necessarily mean that they have been fully adopted in your country. In South Africa for example; only the top dev companies use React. This is especially true in South Africa where many large corporations still have flat or coded HTML and CSS sites applications. This works in your advantage as it means you do not necessarily have to rush learning a new framework. There is more than enough time to get to know a framework you love really well.

5. Enjoy what you do

The most important lesson we can take from this is to just enjoy yourself. If you have a passion for front-end development then you won’t have a problem learning something new. Just take your time, soak it in and remember that you don’t have to learn all the languages in existence in a single day.

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