At *instinctools we organized and hosted a series of online discussions with developers and IT experts. The Techpora project was an opportunity to discuss topics that affect the main points of growth in IT. We did not impose restrictions on the conversation of invited guests and chose bright moments from the conversation so that they could be discussed.

The conversation was attended by Denis Radin, organizer of JSNation and React Summit, Vitaliy Fridman, co-founder of Smashing Magazine, Andrey Kucherenko, Chief Software Engineer, EPAM Systems, and Ira Levina, Frontspot community driver.

Is the modern frontend still jQuery?

When we talk about the modern frontend, I try to understand what it actually means. Judging by the publications on various “wonderful” sites and in the press, I get the impression that I am in a different reality. Most of the projects that I have to deal with and where I have to cry every day are, as a rule, the old version of jQuery. When I discuss the modern frontend, I immediately ask myself: when can we upgrade to a new version of jQuery? Getting to a good version of React or JS even now takes a lot of luck.

Vitaly Fridman, co-founder of Smashing Magazine:

If you look at the statistics of services like Alexa, then the number of downloads of the jQuery library will be in the top there. Yes, we have a lot of things working on jQuery. It is true that if we talk about the frontend, then it is worth separating the domain area. After all, there is a large corporate sector, which can be very harsh and wild, and there are projects where the frontend is perceived as part of the art, when a person expresses his thoughts and views in his work, draws with the help of the frontend.

Andrey Kucherenko, Chief Software Engineer, EPAM Systems:

For me, the modern frontend looks like that apart from the framework, both of them – React and Vue, there are very few centers of attention. Something new is Next.js (this is about fullstack). For example, judging by references on Twitter, the popularity of jQuery has halved over the past year. It was small, but now the popularity of jQuery in user posts is half that of React. Speaking without comparison, the popularity of jQuery among developers is quite large.

Denis Radin, organizer of JSNation and React Summit:

Recently I have been working mainly on React, and I was approached by a legacy project, asked to fix something on jQuery. And I thought: great, now React will step aside – and I will remember jQuery, which seemed simple and great to me. And it turned out that on jQuery everything took a long time to do. After 30 minutes, I said that I was finishing the task and returning to my React. Therefore, when we talk about modern trends, it is very important to understand what happened before, to compare.

Ira Levina, Frontspot community driver:

“One React Developer Creates Jobs for Eight More React Developers”

There is such a joke that one React developer creates jobs for eight more React developers. There was a time when FE became very expensive, but now everything is back to normal. Even the React development teams were thinking: “Well, where are we going?”. They began to actively migrate towards simplifying the code, and the same hooks are an attempt to give development a simpler and cheaper form, to bring everything closer to elementary things. And now a revolution is taking place, a transition to fullstack, where development is not FE, but very close to it. This is web application development. It is greatly simplified and much cheaper. But it all depends on the project. Because some corporate business can live not only with jQuery, but also with other intermediate solutions, for example, old versions of React or old architectures made on React. Moreover, outdated, non-mainstream architectures can be quite expensive. But new approaches in terms of their cost are already a reason for optimism. I am now making a project website on fullstack frameworks, and the development is deploying and developing so quickly that we can talk about significant progress. In general, there was a step back, but now I see a step forward – and I really like it.

Denis Radin:

Those who know how to use tools can do everything quickly and cool in terms of development with the help of modern frameworks. With the right choice of tools, you can work well and quickly.

Denis Radin:

The price of development is born by the market. Demand for IT solutions is on the rise. After all, even irons already have a web interface through which you can control them. There are more and more interfaces, more and more information systems. Naturally, it is impossible to say that demand is falling and we are ready to sell frontend cheaper as part of information systems. The general trend indicates a shortage of people in IT, and all over the world. At the same time, rising prices do not guarantee that sites and interfaces become faster and work better. Yes, compared to the last century, the speed of work has increased, but not dramatically. But there is motivation to speed up the work of web services and sites. The same Google takes into account the speed of work when determining the ranking index in the search results.

Andrey Kucherenko:

I don’t know of any companies that try to reduce the salary of a frontend developer.

Vitaliy Fridman:

“Are there any “pure” frontend developers left at all?”

It’s good that people who write frontend can write serverless applications without delving into the specifics of backend development. It seems to me that a frontend developer who has mastered serverless is no longer just a frontend developer. In this case, we are already talking about fullstack developers. And this is a normal movement towards simplifying what we have. What was difficult for us 5-10 years ago seems simple now. I remember the days when making a normal animation in the browser was a difficult task. Especially when we are talking about animation taking into account physics. Now it has become an elementary task. Those things that used to be difficult to develop are now very simple. But now other things are becoming complicated, which after some time, I believe, will be simplified. And serverless is one way to simplify the backend.

Andrey Kucherenko:

Are there any “pure” frontend developers left at all? Does anyone have data on how many people call themselves frontend developers and fullstack? After all, fullstack is so simple and so deeply has penetrated everywhere that “pure” frontend developers should become less and less.

Denis Radin:

It all depends on how the developers identify themselves. There are so many roles for developers in companies, more and more are emerging. For example, there is the role of a frontend designer – these are people who consider themselves developers, but developers in the context of HTML, CSS and JS. But these are not just layout designers, they have a very good understanding of accessibility and UI/UX. Therefore, they are more like frontend developers, but closer to design. When I talk to companies, I’m always amazed at how unique job titles can be. To be honest, I no longer know what a frontend developer is today. What are we doing, writing some code? Probably, everyone determines for himself the professional area in which he feels comfortable. Each developer puts himself in his “box”.

Vitaly Fridman:
Photo: Reddit

I haven’t seen the frontend developer title at all lately. In my opinion, the ads we see on LinkedIn in London, Amsterdam and Minsk contain the queries “React developers”, “Vue developers”, “Node.js specialists” and a separate search query for JS developers.

Denis Radin:

JS specialists can work on any side – “client” or “server”. Yes, many of them are not so strong in layout, but they are ready to master any framework.

Irina Levina:

I remember how the term fullstack became very fashionable. People I met at meetups in Amsterdam breathlessly said: they say, I’m already a fullstack. It was a completely different level 3-4 years ago. And then the topic “got down”, most likely because everyone became fullstack.

Danis Radin:

“Standardization is good….”

Standardization is good when we are talking about one stack. When we write uniformly within our project, this allows us to expand our code better, add new changes, and speed up time to market. But dry back standardization breaks the “bicycles” from which something useful is born. I love the industry’s standardization movement in the frontend. But I would leave some percentage for “bicycles”. Perhaps large, serious and interesting projects will grow out of them. And if you look at modern browsers, then Chromium has a very good position. In fact, we work in the same environment, so standardization is not very important to us. Remembering the days of IE 5.5 or version 6.0, when there were all sorts of technologies that allowed a developer to shoot himself in the foot just by starting to write HTML without scripting. And it was very painful both in terms of performance and security. But now, looking back at the past, we are working at a quiet time.

Andrey Kucherenko:
Photo: Reddit

We live in the best times of the frontend

I was very surprised when I saw a great article on how to create the best UX for Command Prompt. It was a huge 20,000-word article. Then another article came out on how to make the terminal prettier. I don’t remember any such article in my entire career. The article does not talk about how to set something up, but only about improving UX. And then I thought: that’s it, we’ve arrived. It turns out that we, as developers, create an interface for developing projects, metaprojects (design systems) for our projects. It turns out the third level – we will be flying into space so soon.

Vitaliy Fridman:

The more talented people enter IT now, the more likely it is that after some time they will remove the tools that we use now. They will simply consider them obsolete and come up with their own design systems and frameworks. There will be no evolution only if there are no new people in the industry. But if you look at the development of mankind not only on the example of IT, then the conflict between generations gives rise to new products and technologies.

Andrey Kucherenko:

Everything is moving towards simplification and acceleration, convenience. The level of modern development tools has become simply fantastic compared to what it used to be. We have already stopped noticing new features in the same DevTools. Every day I am pleased with the small improvements that we have received.

Vitaly Fridman:

A frontend developer will always be needed, no-code will not replace him

I used various no-code solutions. Due to the growing demand for IT solutions and the shortage of developers, there are now growing hopes for no-code. But no-code solutions are unlikely to replace everything we do. It is convenient to use no-code for testing prototypes within some startups. This is much better than investing in the choice of approaches, language, developers, server and other parameters for an idea that, in fact, will not develop into a normal business. As for big business, I do not see wide opportunities for using no-code solutions for it. Companies have money to pay for the development and customization of solutions to fit their needs.

Andrey Kucherenko:

It’s very interesting to see attempts to implement an approach similar to no-code, but with writing code through a normal spoken language. When the GPT-3 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3) neural network appeared, people began to try to write applications, describing them with text. Moreover, someone even managed to get investments for this, as a result, they tried to force the neural network to write applications on React for a whole year. And the result of these attempts is a simple demo version of the application, which can be assembled on JS in a few hours, although it took the experimenters a whole year. And I understand that in simple cases, the mentioned approach works, but if you need to impose a little more specifications, then you still need a person who will translate the specification from business requirements into a set of actions (code, no-code). In other words, you need a developer who will program the application to a greater or lesser extent.

Denis Radin:

“We have no right to stop and study nothing more”

We have no right to stop and study nothing more. You can’t do that in IT, we always come up with something new, new trends appear. You constantly need to read specialized information channels, subscribe on social networks to famous people who write about the industry that interests you. You need to read mailings: JS Weekly, Frontend Weekly and others. All this makes it possible to get, if not all the information, then clues, where to go and what to read. In real “combat” conditions, you then remember that you have already read about a similar task, this will simplify its solution. Speaking of what I have studied, I have recently worked with Fast Text. This is a text classification system written by Facebook. It is used in all sorts of spam filters, the system can be trained to distinguish normal messages from spam. As a developer, I haven’t worked with such systems yet. But if we talk about the frontend, then my portfolio has recently been growing due to Vue.js projects and, as a result, Nuxt projects.

Andrey Kucherenko:

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