Increment is a beautiful quarterly magazine (print and web) published by Stripe “about how teams build and operate software systems at scale”. While there is always stuff about making websites in general, this issue is the first focused on front-end¹ development.
I’ve got an article in there: When frontend means full stack. I’ll probably someday port it over here and perhaps add some more context (there were some constraints for print) but I love how it turned out on their site! A taste:
We handle this growing responsibility in different ways. Even though we all technically fall within the same big-tent title, many frontend developers wind up specializing. Often, we don’t have a choice. The term “unicorn” once described the extremely rare person who was good at both frontend and backend development, but these days it’s just as rare to find people skilled at the full spectrum of frontend development. In fact, the term “full stack” has largely come to mean “a frontend developer who does a good amount of the stuff a backend developer used to do.”
The whole issue is chock full of wonderful authors:
- Lea Verou’s A user’s guide to CSS variables (TIL that variables can cause infinite loops and that is detected and invalidates all the variables)
- Ian Feather’s How to reevaluate your frontend architecture (An exposé of the thinking behind the technical choices at BuzzFeed)
- Evan You’s The process: Making Vue 3 (Sometimes what drives change in frameworks is the browser’s evolving and making more things possible and more efficient)
- Ipsita Agarwal’s Case study: Web components for screen readers (The story of a select component at Slack and the complexity of accessibility)
- Safia Abdalla’s On composable modular frontends (“We also need to bring the principles of composable design to the frontend.”)
- Chris Stokel-Walker’s The rise of React
- Nishant Shukla’s A chatbot expedition
- Glenn Fleishman’s Design by design
And the article that is the most right up my alley, Why is CSS . . . the way it is? by Chris Lilley. It’s somehow astonishing, gutwrenching, understandable, and comfortable to know that CSS evolves like any other software project. Sometimes thoughtfully and carefully, and sometimes with a meh, we’ll fix it later.
Once a feature is in place, it’s easier to slightly improve it than to add a new, better, but completely different feature that does the same thing.
This explains, for example, why list markers were initially specified in CSS by expanding the role of
float. (The list marker was floated left so the list item text wrapped around it to the right.) That effort was abandoned and replaced by the
list-style-positionproperty, whose definition currently has the following, not very confidence-inspiring inline issue: “This is handwavey nonsense from CSS2, and needs a real definition.”
That’s a damn fine collection of writings on front end if you ask me.
A big thank you to Sid Orlando and Molly McArdle who helped me through the process and seem to do a great job running the ship over there.
- The issue uses “frontend” throughout, and I appreciate them having a styleguide and being consistent about it. But I can’t bring myself to use it. 🔗 The term “front-end” is correct when used as a compound adjective, and the term “front end” is correct when used as a noun.
Really intersting post, keep up the good work.