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Web developer job "easier" than developer jobs that are "non-web" (eg desktop, mobile, backend) ?

Andy Jack
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Joined: Nov 22, 2012
Posts: 257
From job descriptions, I see that web dev (WD) guys only need HTML, CSS, JS, PHP, XML, JSON, etc. But, the non-web dev (NWD) guys need to be good at more difficult stuff like Data Structures and Algorithms, Computer Architecture, Operating Systems, Multi-threading (eek !) etc.
But, I am not saying that WD don't have to work hard. I am sure they have to think a lot in their jobs. But, I guess they don't have to deal with the difficult topics that I mentioned.

I am guessing that if I am correct, then being a WD with less experience (2-3 years???) makes you an easily replaceable commodity. If that is also true, then what other skills can you learn to make yourself less replaceable.

How far is my perception correct ?


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Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
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  65

So far off the mark as to be laughable.

Wed devs, at least competent ones, need all those skills that "other" devs need. They in fact, need to know more technologies, in addition to all those core skills.

Good web development is hard.

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Andy Jack
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Joined: Nov 22, 2012
Posts: 257
Bear Bibeault wrote:So far off the mark as to be laughable.

Wed devs, at least competent ones, need all those skills that "other" devs need. They in fact, need to know more technologies, in addition to all those core skills.

Good web development is hard.


Okay. Please enlighten us about the web dev profession.

What do you consider as core skills ? Which are the "other skills" that are needed in addition to core skills ?

Why do you consider good web dev to be hard ? I used to think its all about having good sense of UI and using something like HTML, PHP, JS to create web pages.
Can you also give us some examples (excellent or flawed projects), maybe from your career which show that good web dev is hard (and that not just anyone can be good at it) ?

Thanks
Seetharaman Venkatasamy
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Joined: Jan 28, 2008
Posts: 5575

Andy Jack wrote: the non-web dev (NWD) guys need to be good at more difficult stuff like Data Structures and Algorithms, Computer Architecture, Operating Systems, Multi-threading (eek !) etc.

irrespective of web or non web or something.. if a person is a developer/programmer, then he should have all of those[at least basic level].
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
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  65

Andy Jack wrote:What do you consider as core skills ? Which are the "other skills" that are needed in addition to core skills ?

You're the one who listed them. Anyone writing code needs core coding skills such as the ones you've already mentioned, regardless of whether they are coding for web applications or non-web applications.

Why on earth would anyone suppose any differently?
chris webster
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Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1475
    
  11

Bear Bibeault wrote:Good web development is hard.

Good development is hard.

Web development, database development, server-side development etc, they all require lots of hard work to become good at your craft. In some areas, the entry threshold may appear to be lower e.g. it's probably easier to pick up basic HTML or JavaScript and start producing something than it is to start out from scratch with Java EE, but by the time you're a good developer, you'll have had to put in just as much work, one way or another. But once you're a good developer in one area, many of those core skills transfer over to new areas as well.


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Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
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  65

chris webster wrote:
Bear Bibeault wrote:Good web development is hard.

Good development is hard.

Exactly. Whether for the web or not is moot.
Paul Anilprem
Enthuware Software Support
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Joined: Sep 23, 2000
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    2
Andy Jack wrote:From job descriptions, I see that web dev (WD) guys only need HTML, CSS, JS, PHP, XML, JSON, etc. But, the non-web dev (NWD) guys need to be good at more difficult stuff like Data Structures and Algorithms, Computer Architecture, Operating Systems, Multi-threading (eek !) etc.
But, I am not saying that WD don't have to work hard. I am sure they have to think a lot in their jobs. But, I guess they don't have to deal with the difficult topics that I mentioned.

I am guessing that if I am correct, then being a WD with less experience (2-3 years???) makes you an easily replaceable commodity. If that is also true, then what other skills can you learn to make yourself less replaceable.

How far is my perception correct ?


You perception, unfortunately, is shared by many many people including people at team lead, project management level. So correct or not, it has definite implications on your career. IMHO, the reason for this perception is as follows:

1. A professional webapp absolutely needs a kick ass web developer. No question about that. You can imagine what will happen if a customer goes to his bank's website and things don't work really smooth. A small glitch can 1) drive customers away, 2) wreak havoc on the system causing other users to have problems.

However, in my experience, the percentage of such user facing apps is very less as compared to webapps that are used internally within a company and non-web apps. Internal use webapps don't really care much about a high class GUI experience. They compromise on having a quirky GUI and skimp on hiring top web developers. It's like, "yeah...that button really doesn't get disabled ...but dont click it until you get a response" or "lets just the restart the damn server every night".

Again, I am not judging anybody here but that is what I have seen in the industry.

2. Another thing with internal apps is that business logic is the most important thing. GUI has the lowest priority. Believe me, users don't care one bit about a flashy gui for downloading a report if you can just slap in a pure white html page with a link to the pdf in day. Perfecting the GUI is just not on the radar in an environment where business logic keeps changing. Again, not saying it is wrong but that is how it is.

Developing customer facing GUI (web or otherwise) is exceptionally hard. However, getting top dollars for doing a task as hard as that is not guaranteed. If you are lucky and get a project that involves such a customer facing app, you might get paid well. But for the rest of the apps...well, people dont necessarily need a rocket to go from A to B.


3. I have never been involved in any project where the group hired a person for developing images and designing the pages. Every time it is the JavaScript guy who is assumed to know how to create good looking graphics. And creating graphics is an art. Not everyone can do it. I hate doing it. It is a thankless job. But again, would use your favorite company's website if it had crappy looking graphics? I imagine guys who make these images, work along side the JS developers and get paid big bucks.

So with that in mind, I would say if developing Web GUIs/Graphics is not your passion and if you are not super expert in this area, stay away from it. There are other skills that you might want to focus on. Business knowledge of any industry is one such thing. Various integration technologies is another. They are not necessarily easier or more difficult but they do provide better job security.

This is all my personal experience and YMMV.

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Andy Jack
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Joined: Nov 22, 2012
Posts: 257
Seetharaman Venkatasamy wrote:
Andy Jack wrote: the non-web dev (NWD) guys need to be good at more difficult stuff like Data Structures and Algorithms, Computer Architecture, Operating Systems, Multi-threading (eek !) etc.

irrespective of web or non web or something.. if a person is a developer/programmer, then he should have all of those[at least basic level].


I know people who are doing web dev. They told me that they never need or use DS algorithm and things like that.
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
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  65

Lesson #1: "I know someone who said such and such" does not make such-and-such true. Reminds of the guy who posted a while back saying "None of my friends use Java so it must be a dead language."

Also, what are you considering a web dev? Someone who creates the graphics in Photoshop? Someone who draws the comps and interaction design (UX)? Someone who codes the HTML? The CSS? The JavaScript? The server-side control logic? The business layer? The persistence layer? The database schema?

As a web developer I do all of that. Does every web developer do all that? No. Of course not. So you'll need to be more specific about you are meaning when you say "web developer".

If you are talking about someone who writes any code -- even JavaScript in the browser -- the skills are the same across the board. I have known many people who think that writing JavaScript in the browser is something that they can just "wing it" without having to develop proper coding skills. Such people are better known as "hacks" rather than a developers.
Andy Jack
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Joined: Nov 22, 2012
Posts: 257
Bear Bibeault wrote:Lesson #1: "I know someone who said such and such" does not make such-and-such true. Reminds of the guy who posted a while back saying "None of my friends use Java so it must be a dead language."

Also, what are you considering a web dev? Someone who creates the graphics in Photoshop? Someone who draws the comps and interaction design (UX)? Someone who codes the HTML? The CSS? The JavaScript? The server-side control logic? The business layer? The persistence layer? The database schema?

As a web developer I do all of that. Does every web developer do all that? No. Of course not. So you'll need to be more specific about you are meaning when you say "web developer".

If you are talking about someone who writes any code -- even JavaScript in the browser -- the skills are the same across the board. I have known many people who think that writing JavaScript in the browser is something that they can just "wing it" without having to develop proper coding skills. Such people are better known as "hacks" rather than a developers.


Aha ! Just the kind of stuff I was looking for. I guess there are 2 WDs - code-monkeys (wannabe) and "guru" (the real deal) .
You mentioned the layers of web dev. Is there a book/article that gives a general overview of REAL web development and not code-monkey web development ? I want to read and see where i fit in. Mean while, i am googling the various aspects of WD which you mentioned.
Thanks.

Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
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  65

There are many kinds of web developers. Just as there are many types of other developers. I'd have no idea what a "real web developer" would be.
Jayesh A Lalwani
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Joined: Jan 17, 2008
Posts: 2051
    
  22

The real web developer sits right next to the true Scotsman.

I wish a lot of developers stop treating technologies like badges like they are in the Boy Scouts or something. Ooh I know jsp, servlets and php that makes me a better devloper than you. A developer is someone who can develop code... Someone who can deliver. It doesn't matter whether he knows data structures or not, doesn't matter whether he can rattle off names of 7 design patterns. End of the day what matters is how well she or he can deliver, and/or if his/her training meets the problem at hand
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
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Joined: Jan 10, 2002
Posts: 60041
    
  65

Jayesh A Lalwani wrote:I wish a lot of developers stop treating technologies like badges like they are in the Boy Scouts or something.

I've got this dusty old FORTRAN badge that's faded and fraying...
Seetharaman Venkatasamy
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Joined: Jan 28, 2008
Posts: 5575

Jayesh A Lalwani wrote: A developer is someone who can develop code... Someone who can deliver. It doesn't matter whether he knows data structures or not, doesn't matter whether he can rattle off names of 7 design patterns.

If there is a only one developer ;-)
Jeanne Boyarsky
internet detective
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Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 29219
    
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Jayesh A Lalwani wrote: It doesn't matter whether he knows data structures or not

Maybe. I don't want a developer writing his or own sort method because he doesn't know one exists OR that he should just use a TreeSet and not need to sort.

And on the original question, even if a "web developer" is just creating simple JavaScript for web pages, he/she needs to understand design, maintainability and performance.


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