#FridayFive: Front End Technology


Expert Front End Developers Teddy Huff & Nick Gentile discuss new and exciting trends in the world of Front End technology.

1. How do you stay up to date with new Front End technologies?

NG: Staying up to date with Front End technologies is an important part of being a FED because these technologies are always changing. I use Twitter as my main resource to stay up to date. Following famous developers such as Paul Irish, Chris Coyier, and Addy Osmani are usually a good way to keep up with what is new. They are always posting about new techniques, frameworks, tutorials, and new/old things that are changing on the web. Websites like Smashing Magazine, CSS Tricks, Nettuts, and HTML5 Rocks, HTML5Weekly, and JavascriptWeekly are other good resources to follow as well.

TH: I have a multi-reddit that collects articles from r/Javascript, r/FrontEnd and a few others. I also try to stay up to date with my device leaks by following Phandroid.comand MacRumors.com. For general technology news I like ArsTechnica, but I tend to get more tricks and techniques from Twitter.  To continue this discussion, follow Teddy on Twitter: @thuff


2. How does automation affect the day to day workflow for a Front End Developer?

NG: Automation is a huge part of being a Front End Developer. One example of automation is running Grunt.js tasks to do things such as scaffolding projects, code linting, live reload, and FTP deployments. Here is a great presentation made by Addy Osmani that talks through other examples of how automation assists developers on a daily basis. https://speakerdeck.com/addyosmani/automating-front-end-workflow


3. Have Mobile Devices changed how the web is developed?

TH: The mobile web has been a bit of a challenge to accommodate various operating systems and screen sizes. This has really kick-started the responsive web movement: a website that can better display content at different, predefined horizontal breakpoints.Testing across multiple devices for a standard site can be challenging, but with tools like Adobe Edge Inspect, it’s getting a little easier to be consistent on an iPhone 5s or a Galaxy S5. I’m also a big fan of using Grunt with LiveReload on a localserver across multiple devices just for quick visual tests.


4. The proposals for future standards of HTML and CSS are looking to change how the web is written; what is one thing you are most excited about?

NG: I think one thing that will soon change the way we think about layout is the CSS property flex, also known as flexbox. Flexboxwill help more with positioning elements on the page, whether it be vertically centering anything or responsive grid systems.  Flexbox is getting more recognition because the syntax is more defined now, and we can start using it without having fallback code to support older browsers for both desktop and mobile.

TH: I’m really excited about the possibility of using the ambient light sensor to change a website’s appearance depending on the amount of light the device sees (http://dev.w3.org/csswg/mediaqueries4/#light-level); imagine having a darker Facebook or Google at 2am while you’re burning the midnight oil – and your retinas.


5. How does using an MV* Framework change the web?

NG:MVC or MV* frameworks such as Backbone.js, Angular.js, and Ember.js can change the way we think about web or web applications. Manipulating and organizing data from a service, rendering views without refreshing the page, and saving information to a model or collection are some of the benefits that these frameworks have to offer. Using these frameworks is becoming more popular, because instead of having static code, you can have a service populating your views so your data could be different every time.

TH:Having advanced, client side MV* tools allow the Front End to handle logic that was previously only imaginable on the server. Being able to make these decisions on the user’s browser, allows us to create a more seamless experience – not needing to refresh the page just to filter products by color, for example. This isn’t really anything cutting edge, but the popularity of these frameworks- Backbone, Angular,etc – are making even large companies change their business practices and shift in this direction.

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