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Friday, December 07, 2007

Becoming a Front-End Engineer

In software, there are two things known as front-end and back-end.

Front-end refers to what you can see such as the GUI, concept, designs, animations, flows and etc. Ultimately, it is referring to presentation.

Back-end refers to what you don't usually see at the back, it involves things like calculation, database, data structure, fault tolerance, security, performance and etc. It is more about conventional engineering.

The metaphor of front-end and back-end is not so distinctively visible before the emergence of web-based software development, this is because non web-based software such as standalone, client-server would be developed with integrated tools that are available for platforms such as Windows, Linux, Solaris and etc. In other words, the tools ensure that developers can to do away with much hassles of developing front-end components. Take for example Microsoft Visual Studio, where it is not common for developers to develop front-end components because there are many available ones provided by Microsoft.

However, when it comes to web-based software development, things got cranky up. Why ? this because in a typical web-based software development environment, more parties are involved in a project. For example, there will be a web designer responsible for creating the graphics and layout design, then there would be an integration engineer to integrate the design to the back-ends which consist of scripts and etc.

This is predominantly so because a web-based project has highly requirement for front-end look and feel as compared to non web-based project. Thus, web-based project opens up more cultures and excitements to the industry.

With the emergence of so many technologies for the web, such as the web 2.0, AJAX, Flash, Javascript and etc. The industry is caught in a phenomenon where it will not be wise not to leverage on other resources than to build everything by yourself (imagine building your own IDE as well).

Thus, it is very possible that by leveraging on the many services of back-end technologies in the form of web services, databases, content providers and etc, we can now focus on just doing the front-end while realizing our visions for the project we are trying to do.

In other words, it is very possible that you don't have to be good at doing back-end in other to get your software visions done. A software vision can be a project or just an idea, it is presentation of the electronic media.

Ideally, front-end is able presentation, and since we don't have a lot of time to do everything, might as well just focus on the front-end.

This is the idea with front-end engineering for the web.

And Yahoo has got a recruitment drive for it, the program is called Yahoo! Juku.

The program aspire to train up front-end engineers to fill up positions. But I like to suggest that front-end engineering may have some good money to make. It is suitable for IT evangelist who wanted to have a quick and presentation platform to quickly develop software visions, doing away the hassle of back-end programming. Think about it, you can get things done 2 times faster.

Of course, what Yahoo!UI has to offer is no magical box as compared to what BriteWorks has to offer. This is just the beginning. My idea is that by making use of YUI's technology and leveraging on the culture of Juku, it could be possible to build software prototypes without focusing on the backends, because the front-end is powerful enough to convince the idea given the assumption that the back-end calculation works.

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