Crossing the Great Divide

17 February, 2019

Chris Coyier's excellent article The Great Divide made the rounds at my workplace, and as a developer slotted primarily into a frontend engineering role, I found a lot of the quotes and anecdotes hit me close to home.

The main premise of the article is that with the ascendance of React and other frontend frameworks, the title "frontend engineer" has morphed from one whose responsibilities primarily revolved around HTML, CSS, and interactive usability into something involving (a lot) more JavaScript and data manipulation. Individuals might be strong at one or the other, but not necessarily both, and it is becoming increasingly rare to find those with expert level knowledge in both categories.

Which side of this canyon do I live on? Like many, my initial introduction to web development was through vanilla HTML, CSS, and maybe a little jQuery. As my career progressed, I learned a bit more about backend development and API construction, and just enough SQL to be dangerous. The past few years, I've been very focused on working with React and component design.

So am I fullstack? Frontend? A "JavaScript Engineer?" In my opinion, the key takeaway from Coyier's article isn't that there is this gap between different engineers: it's that titles are essentially worthless at this granular of a level. I'm a software engineer, specializing in web development. My title does not preclude being a descriptor of my specific skillset, and given the time to focus and learn I can do any and all of the above if need be. As an engineer, I prefer to just focus on improving my skills, and I leave worrying about titles to recruiters.



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