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Is there a future for a front end dev who doesn't know how to use React/Vue/Angular?

sloan profile image Sloan ・1 min read

I'm a dev with about 10 years experience. I came into web from a brief stint in graphic design. For most of my career I did both UI/UX design and front end coding (SASS, BEM, JQuery, vanilla JS).

However, now the world is changing and frameworks like React, Angular and Vue are predominant. The simple fact is I can't wrap my head around these. I've been working with React for 2 years (along side the normal stuff I do), completed 2 Udemy courses, 1 book, and countless tutorials online. I've even payed a couple of people to tutor me one on one.

But, the truth is, it's just not sticking. Coming from my design background I just don't understand it - I lack the layers of understanding of JS (and node, TypeScript, CLI, npm, yarn, Babel, ES6, etc). And, to be honest, I don't have any interest in this kind of depth of programming.

So, I need to bite the bullet and ask the hard questions: is there a future for a front end dev who doesn't know how to use React/Vue/Angular? Or should I start looking at other careers?

Many thanks in advance.

Posted on Jun 4 by:

sloan profile

Sloan

@sloan

I help moderate content and welcome new users to this platform. I also ask questions on behalf of members looking for advice from the community.

Discussion

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Yes! There most certainly is. Frameworks come and go. HTML, CSS and JavaScript stays. In my opinion it’s way more valuable to learn the language and use that knowledge to code for design / UX. Part of UX is performance, so focus on ways you can help make the site more performant using best practices. Start with a Lighthouse score in the audit tab of Chrome Dev Tools, learn through that how to make sites more performant and even accessible. If you want to translate design skills directly to UI, learn about Web Components and make UI components that are compatible in any framework or no framework, that way the UI components can have a much longer lifespan. As much emphasis we tend to put in generalists, find your niche and get really good at whatever you do.

 
 

It sounds like your reach is exceeding your grasp. Understandably, web development had gotten complicated the last few years. It can really make you question your abilities!

Don't feel you have to be a programmer if you're not one. Sure, you need some basic skills to design on the web, but you don't need to know everything. Stay within your reach and build on the skills you have

Focus on the fundamentals: HTML, CSS, JavaScript. Generally, everything on the front end is built on those three things -- including the frameworks.

Rather than trying to learn a bunch of things you have no interest in, work on projects you are interested in and find ways to use one of these new ideas with.
It's a lot easier to learn one thing hands on than learn a bunch of things though an abstract tutorial.

Also, don't feel that you have to learn it all. It's a lot. Stop and think about what you know and how long it took you to acquire those skills. Be patient with yourself.

Of course there's a need for people with design talents, hang in there!

 

I might be wrong, I'm thinking you might turn into low code developer for websites/applications.

Which taps on low code platforms to build website/applications that does not require really in depth development understanding of front-end development.

Instead you focus on the business value, UI/UX and your mastery of development to implement such systems. This is one of the trends that I'm seeing for front-end developers.

 

No (sort of) but I'm working a series exploring a parallel universe where the big 3 don't exist in 2020

 

As Chris Coyier had laid out beautifully in his great Divide article on CSS tricks, the front end world is splitting into a design focused and a engineering focuses group. I think there's quite some truth to that.
You originate from the design focused group, so that's where your future may be as well?
All of the pure design teams I've worked with so far would have benefitted greatly from a design/frontend position. Building working style systems and design languages is a full-time job.
Focusing on UX, usability and accessibility as well.

I don't think frameworks are required as of now, if you know what you want to work as, and how to sell it.

 

Firstly, I think there will always be a market for knowing the cores of HTML/CSS/JS - and it certainly sounds like you have a solid foundational knowledge!

Secondly, you specifically call out React as the framework you've been trying to utilize. Have you tried Vue or Svelte? I haven't worked with Svelte, but from what I've seen it's similar to Vue in that it separates your JS, CSS, and HTML into a more familiar feeling than React does.

I was feeling overwhelmed and frustrated when working with React and it wasn't clicking in my brain. Taking time to work with Vue has been not only more enjoyable, but also helped me understand React's concepts better in the process.

Lastly, I want to touch on this point you make:

I lack the layers of understanding of JS (and node, TypeScript, CLI, npm, yarn, Babel, ES6, etc). And, to be honest, I don't have any interest in this kind of depth of programming.

I have no clue how these things work after using Vue for about a year now. The most I've had to do is maybe touch a setting to fix a random bug, and that's always been handled by following a tutorial outlining what I need to do. My approach is that as I need to figure those things out, I will and slowly build my knowledge up in the process. I have minimal interest in how these work and would rather just appreciate the people that make them and allow me to leverage their powerful tools.

My DM's are open if you want to talk through this more!

 

I agree it's easier than React. It starts in a more familiar place of adding a script tag to your project, and using HTML and CSS the regular way.

It's more of a step than a leap.

 

Frameworks come and go, if you don’t like it or don’t understand it, or don’t think it makes sense, well, because it kinda doesn’t make sense. Google created Angular but they don’t like it either, they trashed it and working on a new version. node.js creator doesn’t like node anymore, so he is now working on Deno. I can understand the pain when trying to learn bunch of npm or webpack, because they don’t have a good “user experience” even for programmers. We are at a transition time where people see web components benefits but there is no web standard support it, so people have to use these frameworks. But the web component standard is maturing itself nowadays. So the question- Is there a future for you? Totally, and on the contrary, I am not sure there is a future for these frameworks.

 

You'll likely be relegated to a Front End Designer... which simply used to be a Web Designer. Just search for frontend js dev jobs and see how many don't require some js framework experience. I would branch out into being a full on UI/UX designer, if you're not too into coding and into doing more design work. That job can be very rewarding, especially if you have solid devs to work with. Look into Flutter as well, you can design apps with it.

 

The answer to this question can be Yes and No. Frameworks both in CSS and JavaScript come and go so there might be a new trend in a few years henceforth and React/Vue/Angular might not be used again in that case. But the point is HTML/CSS and JavaScript are here for quite a long time (maybe forever xD) so you better understand them well and if you do you will have no problem adapting any new framework since they are just a thin layer on CSS or JavaScript to make your work a bit easier.

 

As a startup founder and business owner, I won't hire any devs who only know framework X. Our devs have to be fundamentally sound in pure JS, HTML, CSS on the front end. We apply all development patterns at our disposal when needed and build our own abstractions. This future-proofs our applications because we follow standards while frameworks continue to diverge from those standards and turn over year after year. So yes, there is a future and it may not seem like it, but the pendulum is swinging back a bit.

 

I think in today's world you'll only get as far as the amount of passion you have for a subject, especially an overwhelming one like coding. If you really feel like you don't enjoy programming then don't do it. There are many roles in tech that don't involve coding. For example, many companies hire UI/UX designers, so that might play more to your interests like others have stated. Try asking yourself specifically what you enjoy and why you enjoy it (ex: creating beautiful interfaces), and try finding those roles on side projects or volunteer projects.

The world doesn't need another passionless developer. Don't give up!

 

I think the problem here is motivation, and as you said "I don't have any interest in this kind of depth of programming". I believe a front end that doesnt know this things still have a place, but i dont know if have a future, because the future derives from the present. So, if you are disliking now, there is a great chance to get worse from that perspective. If you allow me 2 cents about motivation: what about try other new fields? UI/UX seems cool for a front end with a design background, and would be great a good ui/ux with code background also, i think you'd be a badass, just my 2 cents ; )

 

In the front end for web pages? Yes, why not. And on the front end for mobile applications? Yes and no. Maybe not..
You can always try to dedicate yourself more to the back end, where "purer" programming languages ​​are going to start and not so much framework.

Or you can go to the development and front end of applications and websites for companies, in which more language frameworks such as Java, PHP or Python are used and there is not Javascript all the time.

Or maybe, you can find a gap through new languages, like Kotlin, Rust ... 🙈

 

It's not low level to become it is the high level complex variants of different progamming pradigma. I opinion is that HTML/JS/CSS is already best solution. I try all "modern" frameworks. For me top inovation is TypeScript. In any moment you can downgrade you code to clear js in other way you can make lot of classification with full assets of OOP. Everybody need to learn all of it. Good staff is lint/eslint/tslint debuger log i learned lot of pratice from fixing ... Sometimes you can stack with 1 milion of building problems but native JS always makes me fill good. Theres a lot of paradox in this story. JS was solution to avoid building-linking c++ native procedures also sockets communication was disabled in security reasons. If you follow updates for CEF or Firefox you can always have nice features in hybryd native (webView-control) android , iOS etc only with native JS and androidStudio , XCode or VisualStudio.

 

Yes there is. Because of backend.
How?
Remember journey from HHD to SSD to NVMe SSD.
Problem with framework:

  • unwanted codes / files lives in server.
  • framework cost to storage
  • next framework is ready to take place of your best framework.
  • If a framework has a security bug then millions of site can have.

If you know basics of frontend, you can choose any framework but if you don't, you can't survive with next replacement of your lovely framework

 

Here's the thing. You actually understand how the web works. A "modern" JS toolchain introduces is a ton of complexity to let you write imaginary versions of JS and CSS which gets translated into how the web really works (with some optimizations). So it is understandable why it doesn't make sense to you.

I think we are at a weird place in the evolution of front-end dev, that we will eventually move past it, and that there is a bright future for you. But in the mean time, don't stress about it too much. Vanilla JS is still very much alive. But don't take my word for it...

 

I think if you come from design background, its better to focus on UX/UI designer, or level up to product designer.
Pushing yourself to thing that you are not passionate at will stress you out.
You may can coding as well in HTML and CSS, but when it comes to JS framework like Vue, React or Angular you're turning yourself to a software engineer which needs understanding of algorithm and strong logical thinking.

 

The question is not the framework, but you have justified doubts: as interfaces grow more and more complex, do you need more software engineering skills to remain relevant?

The answer is probably not. Altough some people are good at both programming and designing, I still see quite some UX/UI desgin who do some Figma/Sketch, do quite some HTML and CSS and then some frontend engineer inject some logic into that (with React or wathever). Don't underestimate the fact that those "react engineers" are backend guys in disguise: we just moved some logic back to the front.

 

A future of picking a framework and learning it, maybe. Why make a point of abstaining?

 

I'm currently teaching designers React. It's pretty hard on some of them, but I'm confident they'll understand it.

Still a month to go in the course, let's see what will happen :D

 

Make your own framework. And stick to it, it might become the new industry standard.

 

The future is with something like Phoenix LiveView or Laravel LiveWire with small js with AlpineJS and small css with TailwindCSS. At my point of view.

 

Yes there is if you understand javascript and have the gumption to learn whatever to make what you want happen!

 

Well it depends what is your definition of future. Is it, where every FE job require framework and CLI tools?