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I don't want to do front-end anymore

Feb 08, 2021

I started coding when I was 14, around 2007 or so. The very first thing I wrote was HTML, then CSS. I liked making stupid little web pages containing youtube embeds and guest books (anyone remembers those?) full of marquees, blinks and gifs. Lots of gifs. The pages were very simple, but joyful to make and also to use. At the time I had no idea that you could make any money with making web pages, I simply thought it was a silly hobby people could have.

Fast-forward 3 years I got my first few gigs as a web developer. By then I was pretty good at HTML and CSS already, had dabbled enough with PHP to know my way around most sticky problems I would find myself in and while I didn't really know much of vanilla JavaScript, it was okay, because everyone used almost exclusively jQuery anyway. Yet still, the websites were rather simple and joyful to make.

It was easy to get started, too - you just created the files and refreshed the page. HTML? PHP? JavaScript? Just create the file and save it, then refresh the browser. Rinse and repeat until you are happy with the result. But then, almost out of nowhere, something changed. At first, it came slowly and before it could even speed up, it was already here. The complicated web was here.

Nowadays I make a living mainly with JavaScript and TypeScript using React.js as a front-end framework. That's right, front-ends are so complex they now need frameworks to be able to manage their seemingly infinite component hierarchies. JavaScript no longer is liked by the community, so the community created a poor man's version of a typed language which duct-tapes around an already poorly made language.

Starting a new project? Make sure to write your project idea down because by the time you are finished setting up the vast boilerplate you have probably forgotten it. Vast boilerplate? Oh yeah, you better set-up your project with TypeScript, ESlint, Webpack and Babel, because if you don't then obviously you haven't learned anything since 2005 and suck. Don't have NPM? Better install that, too, because nobody installs libraries without a package manager anymore. Oh and while you're at it, install also Yarn, because why not make use of two package managers at the same time. Phew, you did all that? Damn, that's commitment! You can finally write what is essentially just HTML and JavaScript!

Now, don't forget we also want to style our project, but if you thought you could get away with writing good ol' CSS, you were wrong. We no longer write CSS, because it's lame. We now write SCSS instead, so that we could write dynamic stylesheets that convert to CSS, because of course 99% of the web needs that.

But enough of the hating. If I wanted I could hate on anything most likely, and the web has come a long way since 2007, in lots of good ways, and I don't want to discredit that. I suppose with the increase of complexity in what we want to achieve on the web the stack to achieve it with has had to also increase in complexity. For me, personally, it's too much. I want to have a personal life and not have to spend my nights reading up on some new flavour of *.js in fear that if I don't I would soon be made irrelevant. I don't want to learn nor use a million different tools. I don't want to know a bit about everything and a lot about nothing.

Thus, I don't want to do front-end development anymore. The joy is gone. I've given in my resignation at my current place of employment and will be seeking an exclusively back-end role for my next adventure, starting April. The language doesn't matter much to me, I know enough of them to know that they are all very similar and thus easy enough to learn. If you know of a good opportunity, let me know.