Resources for new frontend engineers
I'm fortunate to meet several frontend engineers that are new to the role as professionals, recent grads (mostly from code schools) and self-taught developers. As a result, I give a lot of tips on good habits to adopt and suggestions on who to follow, what to read, and what to watch.
When I started my own career it was a different climate. Meetup didn't yet exist, events were scarce (with barely any women or people of color), and frontend development was not quite its own craft. It took me years to figure out what worked best for me to stay strong in a competitive market in which I was an anomaly.
Learn learn learn
When I moved to San Francisco, I lived 3 miles from my job but had a 45 minute commute. I used that opportunity to read one or two blog posts on frontend development a day on my phone finding them via Feedly or Twitter. Reading technical and design content had always been part of my career, but this new habit had me completely immersed in web development. I grew so much as a frontend engineer and fell in love with my craft.
One or two blog posts a day can be lot, especially if your commute includes driving. Or maybe you don't have a commute but are juggling childcare and work (like me in this pandemic). Figure out what works best for you, but if possible, give yourself that space to learn.
What and who did I follow?
In the schema of the The Great Divide, I fall into the UI side of things, so find it as no surprise that many of the publications and individuals I follow do so as well. But there's a bit of everything. I also try to follow voices that question our industry and promote inclusivity.
Smashing Magazine, A List Apart, CSS-Tricks, Jeffrey Zeldman, Lara Hogan, Ilya Grigorik, Addy Osmani, Paul Irish, Lea Verou, Claudina Sarahe, Tom Dale, Jenn Schiffer, Iheanyi Ekechukwu, Patrick Hamman, Yehuda Katz, Nicholas Zakas, Nicolas Gallagher, Rachel Andrew, Jake Archibald, Tammy Everts, Sara Soueidan, Paul Lewis, Ethan Marcotte, Jenn Simmons, Eric Meyer, Nicole Sullivan, John Resig, Harry Roberts, and probably others I'm forgetting now.
Who would I follow today?
I'm much more focused on management, so I'm out of date with regards to who to look to for the latest on frontend development. Most of the people I originally followed are still speaking and writing on the topic, but these are some individulas from whom I've learned a lot in the past few years.
- Mina Markham
- Sara Drasner
- Val Head
- Melanie Sumner
- Una Kravitz
- Cassidy Williams
- Suz Hinton
- Mariko Kosaka
- Lin Clark
- Henri Helvetica
- Marcy Sutton
- Miraim Suzanne
- Alex Russell
- Wes Bos
- Dan Abramov
- Heydon Pickering
No doubt there are more people to follow out there who are pushing the limits of web development.
Conferences I follow
I love going to conferences and equally appreciate being able to watch them online. Here are my favorites. A good talk can give you a new perspective and a good speaker can inspire you (and even make you laugh).
- An Event Apart
- The Lead Dev
- JSConf Asia, EU, US and the rest of the family
- Google Chrome Developers
- Google I/O
My favorite conference talks
Understanding what happens when a page request is initiated and how event loop works is vital to the success of any engineer building web applications.
- Server Farm to Table, Jenna Zeigan, DinosaurJS 2016
- What the heck is the event loop anyway?, Philip Roberts, JSConf EU 2014
- In The Loop, Jake Archibald, JSConf Asia 2018
- Designing for Performance, Lara Hogan, Fluent Conference 2014
Meetups and events have been vital to me for learning opportunities, inspiration, and networking. When I move to new cities, often the first thing I do is find a community. Here are few recorded events worth checking out.
The gist of it all is obvious, don't stop learning. Find people in our industry that share information you find interesting or challenging. Not only does this keep you competitive, it will help you enjoy your work more. Figure out what works for you. Maybe audio books are your thing or hands-on training.
And lastly, beware of following too many people and subscribing to too many newsletters. It can become overwhelming.