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3 minutes read

The Evolution of Front-End Development at Koombea

By Alvaro Insignares
By Alvaro Insignares
3 minutes read

When I first started working at Koombea in December 2011, my official position was Front-End Developer. However, those of us who made up the department was affectionately known as “markup-ers,” because for the most part, our work was limited to creating HTML and CSS views.

Back then, the most valued skills for our position revolved around attention to visual details, semantic knowledge, and CSS management. Programming was merely a plus that attracted a lot of attention but seemed highly impractical. The closest we came to programming was creating simple jQuery interactions, like modals or sliders, usually implementing some sort of plugin.

It was just a matter of time before our curiosity kicked in and our desire to constantly improve led us to discover the revolution around web development that was taking place all over the world.

New technologies like HTML5 and CSS3 made our work much easier, while SASS taught us that CSS could be more complex and structured than it seemed. However, it was the boom of the Single Page Applications (applications built for the web that load data via AJAX and do most of the render in the client side) that brought us that much closer to what would really change the future of our role: JavaScript. A language that had always generated a sense of fascination in us, but that we never really took the time to properly understand, and that now had become the cornerstone of our work.

All of a sudden, hundreds of technologies were flooding our day-to-day life: package managers like Bower, task orchestrators like Grunt and Gulp, and of course, MV* libraries like Backbone, Ember, and Angular. It was a new world for front-end development and we were invited to the party.

Gone were the days of dealing with Ruby on Rails pipeline assets. The new versions of ECMAScript brought new light to our work and made us dream of a promising future. We were no longer the markup guys, and JavaScript programming skills had become fundamental for anyone who wanted to be part of our team. Furthermore, concepts like unit testing, debugging and memory profiling became like second nature to us.

Recently, our work environment changed once again. The birth of a new wave of technologies such as ES6, WebPack, Babel, NPM, Yarn, React, and Redux, marked a decisive moment in the history of front-end development.

Obviously, we still care about our applications being responsive, having maintainable and predictable CSS, and using the proper tags to mark the views. However, we now also work on modular and maintainable JavaScript code, on applying functional programming principles in our daily work, on maintaining real-time connections with the server through WebSockets, on improving the user experience with Progressive Web Apps, and even on building mobile applications with React Native.

As a team, we constantly support each other, follow new developments in the industry, and help each other with learning the skills necessary to do efficient and quality work. We are excited about the future and ready to tackle new developments in the field.

Our predictions? Certainly more React and AngularJS, both charged with efficiency improvements. More type checking features and safe languages that compile into JavaScript, more oriented towards the functional programming paradigm, and a lot more great features in future versions of ECMAScript.

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