Advice for New Front End Developers
We stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before us; look around and you’ll find someone or something to learn from. Front-end development is full of renaissance personalities, so it’s up to you to decide how far you can or want to take it. Stay curious. Don’t use code you don’t understand, but when you do understand it, help others who are where you once stood – at the beginning.
So, with that in mind, here are a few things I’ve learned from mentors, independent study, and plain old problem solving that I wish I knew when I first started.
- Just Git Started
Make sure you have, at the absolute least, a minimal understanding of Git. As a professional, you will be working with other developers and these collaborative tools are critical to the development workflow, not to mention what might happen if your computer blows up without warning. Git is your backup, your grace and savior, but can also be a nemesis if not used with focus and attention. You don’t have to learn everything overnight. In fact, I would recommend working closely with a ninja-level Git expert until you get the hang of it. As in all things, you grow incrementally in your own understanding of and talents with Git.
INTERMEDIATE: Once you get a little more comfortable, all the GUI’s have a terminal option. Use both in parallel to control and manage your code across multiple processes. With constant updates on the GUIs, those programs are going to give you trouble.
ADVANCED: If you are at ninja-level in Git, you are likely handling DevOps and overseeing multiple projects, with many developers, and lots of pressure. This path can have many dragons and processes like Gitflow standardization can give you a significant level up. I am working on learning the ways of the Git Guru, and nothing beats a having a solid cheat sheet like this one within close reach.
- HTML with Your Best Shot
- You trying to SASS me?
Writing traditional CSS in a single styles.css file is not how modern day code is written. We need things to be more effective and efficient, and we need to be able to create variables that can be used across thousands of lines of code and updated only in one place. You’re going to want data types, operations, and functions. Establish rules and directives, as well arguments and partials. There is no better way to do this now than with Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets or SASS. SASS allows us to create CSS rules that are nested, which means the inner rule only applies within the outer rules selector. With a common goal of applying the DRY Principle (Don’t Repeat Yourself), SASS turns this…
…and reduces complexity and repetition. It’s how we manage code without going crazy!
- IMO, NPM
- Take a Big Gulp
- Front-End Soul Food
Get on Twitter, Reddit, StackExchange, and others; follow your interests. I can’t recommend this enough. Read anything and everything you can get your hands on. Review other people’s code. Follow industry trends. You will get to be part of the conversation faster, and trust me… there are a lot of conversations happening. To get you started, here’s a curated Twitter list for your consideration.