Front-End Developer, WTH?

The front-end developer role is already part of the worldwide lexicon. Well, at least in the digital world everyone has heard about front-end. Some common mortal beings still address them as web designers. At least for now… Just you wait!


One day, even mothers will know exactly what a front-end developer does.

Before we step into the whole story, we must clarify things once and for good, a front-end developer addresses the whole visible thing of an online platform.
Basically, and quite simplistically, it creates what the user sees, relying on HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, as well as all aspects related to interface and interaction.
The invisible stuff, database management, and so forth are done by back-end developers. There are also full-stack developers who deal with both sides, which implies basically an overall mastery of all aspects of online platforms (websites, apps, etc.).

The origins of front-end web development

Contrary to the egg-or-chicken story, in this case, you know what came first. Before front and back-end, developers were known as webmasters in a long-gone past, the ruling overlords that took care of the whole site.
In the early web days, each webmaster was entitled to “sign” each page with their name and direct email. Yes, back then time, spam was just canned food and it was safe to have the email spread all over our website.
This article will attempt to succinctly enlist the top milestones in the history of front-end development. Do you think we are missing some? Let us know in the comments.

In the beginning was HTML and many, many GIFs

When the World Wide Web was born through the hands of Uncle Tim Berners-Lee, HTML was also created (HyperText Markup Language), the language that allowed (and still allows) browsers to interpret the code of pages written by webmasters. HTML is the foundation that has always kept the web standing straight.
The first web was somehow poetic. The poetry of simplicity, the epic of
getting yourself off the hook via mIRC, the thousand and one adventures of the <iframes> (Inline Frames, created by Microsoft in 1996) and the tables. Yet another “trendy thing” back then. Trying to fit everything into the tables was nothing short of a strenuous challenge.
Well, then you could make gold with lemon. You couldn’t change the world, but all sorts of objects ran after the mouse cursor. Ahhh, good ol’ days.
The GIF fever broke out immediately after. They were the last cookie in the jar. Geocities anyone? It was hard to find a page without one. Or two thousand.
Even “under construction” websites, this other classic institution of Web 1.0, used plenty of low-quality images of 2 or 3 animated frames in a loop.

Site em construção

And, on the 7th day, JavaScript was born

It experienced a difficult childhood, particularly because it was a troublesome “child” with an untamed personality, but JavaScript is one of the most powerful tools for a front-end developer today. It arrived with the revolutionary objective of running client-side scripts, but its mass adoption has been a slow process.
JavaScript is a bit like Brussels sprouts. You either love it or you hate it.

Couves de Bruxelas

Many don’t want to learn JS, while others have surrendered themselves to their potentialities. My 2 cents? Embrace it. Don’t fight it
Created in 1995, initially known as Mocha and LiveScript before the current JavaScript denomination, JavaScript has evolved immensely, and today it provides a wide range of frameworks that make the day-to-day grinding much easier.

A torrent of styles

The Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) invention brought order, beauty, and freedom to the web. The name reflects its cascaded code structure. Just beautiful.
A style sheet, in a separate HTML file, to aggrandize even the squarest of the codes, establishing several visual rules, describing how they should behave when viewed in a browser.
Since it’s part of a separate file, you can update the look & feel of the site just by retouching it. Those changes affect all pages on the site with that style sheet.
Thanks to CSS, alongside HTML, we can create responsive websites that fit the size of the screen in which they are viewed.


CSS summarized in one picture ⬆ ⬆ Amirite?

Wages, training, and so forth

One of the major questions for anyone who’s starting as a Front-end developer, or considering switching companies, is “How much can one earn as a Front-end developer?”. The average wages have undergone some changes over time and take into account different variables. One’s the country where you work.
Nevertheless, and like in every sector, remuneration remains a somewhat taboo subject.
We know that at KWAN. To spare you from ruffling any feathers, we’ve created a Salary Calculator that can work for you. Whether you’re starting or thinking about changing your professional life, this tool will help you get a real sense of the salaries of front-end developers and then some.

When it comes to the ideal training to become a successful front-end developer, the answer may be a bit more intricate. Well, mostly because there’s no right answer. Many roads will lead you to this Rome.
The most common way is to learn some Webdesign training and then boost that with sporadic front-end skills.
Since there’s no front-end college course, you always have the option of taking a computer science degree or go for some of those proliferous practical front-end courses.
Now we’ll drop some fine options to get the appropriate or complementary training to what you already have:


  • EDIT – Lisbon or Oporto
  • FLAG – Lisbon, Oporto, Faro, Coimbra or Braga 


  •   Treehouse – Several online courses, here you find the front-end web development track.
  •   Udacity – – Try the Front-End Web Developer Nanodegree 
    ** Free **
  •   <Codecademy
    A good option with no costs involved

    **When push comes to shove, it all boils down to the skills you have. **The important thing is what drives you. If you love web development, then go after that dream and fight for it. If front-end is your thing, anything’s possible, one way or the other.