What to learn in 2017 if you’re a frontend developer

With our fast-paced ecosystem we tend to spend our time trying the latest inventions and arguing about them on the internet. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do that, but probably we should slow down a bit and look at things that don’t change much: they could greatly improve quality and value of our work, and understanding of those new tools.

This post is a mix of my experience and my wishes for the New Year. I want to hear your suggestions as much as I want to share mine.

#Learn how to write readable code

Most of our work isn’t in writing new code but modifying existing code. That means you read code much more often then write it, so you need to optimize you code for the next programmer, not for the interpreter.

I recommend reading these three amazing books — in this order, from shortest to longest:

#Learn JavaScript deeper

When every week we have a new JavaScript framework that’s better than any older framework, it’s easy to spend most of your time learning frameworks rather than the language itself. If you’re using a framework but don’t understand how it works, stop and start learning the language until you understand how tools you use work.

#Learn functional programming

For years we wanted classes in JavaScript. Now we finally have them but don’t want to use them anymore: functions are all we want! We even write HTML using functions (JSX).

#Learn design basics

As frontend developers we’re closer to users than anybody else in the team, maybe even closer than designers. And if designers have to verify every pixel you put on screen, you’re doing something wrong.

#Learn how to work with humans

Some of us come to programming because we prefer to interact with computers more than with humans — unfortunately that’s not how it works.

We rarely work in isolation: we have to talk to other developers, designers, managers and sometimes even users. That’s hard but it’s very important to really understand what you’re doing and why, because that’s where the value in what we do lies.

#Learn how to write for humans

A big portion of communication with our colleagues and other people are textual: task descriptions and comments, code comments, Git commits, chat messages, emails, tweets, blog posts, and so on

Imagine how much time people spend reading and understanding all that. If you can reduce this time by writing more clearly and concisely, the world will be a better place to work.

#Learn the old computer science wisdom

Frontend development isn’t animated dropdown menus any more. It’s more complicated than ever before, and part of that notorious “JavaScript fatigue” stems from the increased complexity of the tasks we have to solve.

This, however, means that it’s time to learn from all wisdom that non-frontend developers built up over many decades. And here I want your recommendations the most.

What would you recommend? What are you going to learn in 2017?

Some of the links above are affiliate, so if you buy something using one of these links, I’ll receive a small commission.

Thanks to Henrique Alves, Nicolás Bevacqua, Alexander Burtsev, Nataliya Karatkova, Oliver Turner, Juho Vepsäläinen and Anton Zhiyanov for feedback and suggestions.