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Discussion on: There's no such thing as a full stack developer

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Anna Rankin

I completely agree that a quite a lot of front-end applications that make it into production are underbaked, bloated, error-prone and often inaccessible to folks. I personally think this is due to the dangerous categorization of front-end work as "simple" or "junior," rather than a result of the idea of a "full-stack developer."

Any hiring manager looking for a full stack developer is really just looking for someone who has worked with every piece of technology that the hiring company is currently using to deliver web applications.

This is where I disagree a bit - when my team hires a new developer, we use the term "full-stack" as a goal to be continually worked toward rather than a criteria for entry. Every member of our team is expected to familiarize themselves with the different aspects of the applications their team is responsible for - whether that be on the server, the client, or the infrastructure and processes we use to ship and support software. This helps us collaborate well, and decreases the bus factor in general! As a way to build that familiarity, we all strive to work in the different languages and codebases that make up the system.

That said, we do encourage specialization and highly value expertise! For example, I work on codebases in React and Ruby, but as my expertise is higher in serverland than UI-topia (excuse my silly puns), I lean heavily on my front-end-focused teammates for their experience by pairing and/or requesting their reviews before proceeding.

I agree that no one person can be an expert in everything web-development-related. Everyone's got different strengths - it's up to the hiring manager and team lead to ensure we're building a team whose strengths complement each other; that we don't end up with holes in our knowledge as a group.