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Zach Leatherman

A Front End Engineer’s Manifesto

02 September 2012Read this in about 2 minutes.

Early last year at Nebraska Code Camp 2011, I gave a talk to a bunch of .NET developers about my own personal perspective on the world of Front End Engineering.

True to form, I developed the slide deck for the web using BigText, sausage.js, and a few other self-developed but yet-to-be released plugins. I uploaded it world wide for my presentation but never published the URL publicly. Unexpectedly, last week a developer from France found it and shared it on Twitter. Well, the cat is out of the bag.

I’ve been reluctant to share the slides because I certainly don’t want developers to take them as dogmatic truth. Rather, I’d love for people to see a forest using trees they’ve planted themselves. Try to take a step back and see the big picture when you’re problem solving on the front end and figure out what’s important to you.

So with a bit of trepidation but without further adieu:

f2em.com, A Front End Engineer’s Manifesto

If you’d like to see this talk live, let me know in the comments.

The site is also available on GitHub.

Talk Description

In the fast paced world of Front End Engineering, change reigns supreme. Dormant for years, the Browser Wars are back and have broken web development wide open. Led by competing vendors championing their own implementations of HTML5, CSS3, and other Web Standards, they’re unchaining us from the desktop computing environment. We’re seeing web browsers in our favorite Mobile Phones, E-Book Readers, and Tablet devices. Does your web site work with the Android Browser? On the iPad? How about the Kindle browser? IE9? Do you even know what version Google Chrome is on?

As web programmers, how do we keep up with this blistering, nauseating pace while still taking time to improve our skills? I’ll go through a set of principles and guidelines I use to simplify the world of Front End Engineering. These criteria will help you write better future-compatible flux-resistant code. They will help you evaluate new toolsets, APIs, frameworks, and even file formats and codecs. They will improve the quality of your web sites and applications.

Many thanks to Nate Koechley, who influenced some of this manifesto with his talk on Professional Front End Engineering, and to the countless other developers and designers who have made equally important community contributions.

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Zach Leatherman is a Professional Front End Engineer. He loves building for the web and has been writing here since 2007.

He enjoys spending time with his beautiful wife Traci and their two Great Danes, Roxie and Ella. They also have a cat, a rabbit, goldfish, and usually one or more tarantulas. Read more »