Everything You Need to Know to Become a Front-End Developer

Updated on February 19, 2019
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I'm a digital content creator, obsessed with Generation X related pop-culture. I'm also a tech geek, Internaut, and book nerd.

Everything you need to know to become a front-end web developer
Everything you need to know to become a front-end web developer

If you want to learn to code with the goal of being a front-end developer, there are a many things you need to know in order to be successful and get a job. You should start with gaining a firm grasp of the basics of web development, then augment your skills with extra tools and resources that most web developers utilize.

If you've done the research and you're sure that front-end development is the way to go for you, check out these tools you also need to master. Knowing these tools and resources will not only help you with the web development process, they will also help you knock the competition right out of the water when applying for jobs.

Finally, if you aren't 100% sure if learning to code is something you want to try, here are 10 Reasons Why You Should Learn to Code.

What a Front-End Developer Does

You first need to know exactly what a front-end web developer is. In general, web development is comprised of three segmented types of jobs:

1. Front-End Developer. This person (also called front-end web developer or front-end engineer) is a web developer who works with the front end of websites and web applications, which includes everything that is seen and used by the user in the browser of the web page. Front-end developers are typically design-focused.

2. Back-End Developer. This person is responsible for the back end or the server side of web sites and web applications. The back end is where all of the data is manipulated and updated. Back end developers are typically logical thinkers.

3. Full-Stack Developer. This person is a special ninja who is skilled at both the front end and the back end. If you enjoy working with the "pretty stuff" as well as the "super techy" stuff, this job might be for you...

Also, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away ... there was a title known as Web Designer. The web designer didn't really have to deal with learning to code at all, and was solely focused on the design aspects of web pages.

These days, because web sites and web applications have become far more functional and interactive, the job market demands the services of people who know how to both design and code.

There are still some jobs available for web designers, but most web designers are trying to learn to code for better opportunities, pay and job security. In many ways the job of a front-end developer can be looked upon as a web designer who is proficient with a programming language, probably JavaScript.

HTML is the skeleton of web pages, CSS is the skin, and JavaScript is the brain.

Master the Basics

You absolutely must have a firm grasp of the three basic technologies used in web development, they are:

HTML - this is the first basic building block of all web pages, it gives structure to web pages. HTML is a coding language, but it is not a full-fledged programming language, instead it is a mark-up language. Markup languages allow you to "mark up" text for processing purposes.

CSS - this is the second basic building block of all web pages, it is responsible for the "look and feel" of web pages. CSS also not a programming language.

JavaScript - is the third building block and very first actual programming language most web developers learn. JavaScript runs in the computer's browser, and it allows for the functionality of a web page.

If you imagine the three building blocks of web development the way you would imagine a person, you could think of it this way: HTML is the bones and skeleton of web pages, CSS provides the skin, and JavaScript is the brain.

You can take a crack at learning to code right now by taking the HTML crash course by Brad Traversy, who is a WHIZ at teaching web development technologies:

Basic Web Development Tools

Text Editor: we write code using a text editor, and you need to pick one and become well familiar with all of its abilities. Some of the popular text editors today include: Atom, Sublime Text, Brackets, Visual Studio Code, and good old MS Notepad and Mac Text Edit.

Browser Developer Tools: Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are both equipped with internal developer tools that allow you to view and manipulate the code of any website in your browser.

These tools are good for debugging purposes, and of course... you are the only one who can see the changes you make to the website with developer tools, because you are only manipulating the site as it appears inside your own browser.

Version Control Systems: Version control systems allow you to manage changes to your web projects. This allows you to revert to different versions of a project without interfering with the deployed project until you have perfected the one you're working on. There are several version control systems in use, but Git is by far the most dominant.

Command Line (Terminal): A thorough mastery of the command line is required for professional web development. The command line looks scary, but it makes uploading new software packages easy, and it also makes it super easy to navigate through files and folders. You can learn to master the command line in a day.

Basic Web Development Supporting Technologies

CSS Preprocessor: this technology makes writing and maintaining CSS a breeze. By far, the most common CSS preprocessor is SASS, and it can be learned in a day

CSS Frameworks: When it comes to making complex CSS tasks less time consuming to create, the CSS framework you will need to know is Twitter Bootstrap.

CSS Flexbox & CSS Grid: These are both CSS web model layouts that significantly help with making your web pages mobile responsive.

Bundling Tools: Webpack and Browserify with Gulp are used to help load your page faster into the browser. These tools serve to minify or slimline your content for faster loading times.

JavaScript Libraries & Frameworks: libraries and frameworks allow you to quickly, more easily and more efficiently add JavaScript interactions to web pages. They also help to simplify more complex aspects of JavaScript. Some of the popular libraries and frameworks include: JQuery, React and Angular.

As you can see, there is a lot you need to learn in order to become a front-end web developer. The good news is that ALL of these tools, resources and technologies can be learned for free. You can already see that there are tons of free resources on YouTube alone...

If you need more comprehensive learning, all of these tools can be learned for next to nothing using online learning resources like Team Treehouse. There are also single courses available, like The Complete Front-End Development course or Modern React on Udemy.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

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