I don't do Angular, is that OK?

I’ve never been one to care for job titles. One or two words can’t adequately explain the extent of our roles. I try to avoid giving myself a strict title on this website.

On my homepage:

“I design, build & write all things web”

Then I list:

These pages are a delicate balance of an intelligent, thoughtful, and succinct description of my ‘craft’, and some SEO bingo because that’s an unfortunate reality. In my sidebar-slash-footer: “I freelance for small businesses, start-ups, individuals, and fellow web agencies.” — i.e. pretty much anyone willing to pay me.

I try to emphasis web design first because it’s what I enjoy most. Though really, design & build are part of the same package. Figuring out clean and sometimes clever CSS for a responsive layout is a lot of fun.

I’m very competent with JavaScript. I know the language / syntax. I’m well versed in the DOM. I like to write JavaScript if it adds a level of interactivity that enhances the “experience” (or even improves performance).

All of this, and more, is what I think of when I read “Front-end Developer”.

Nowadays the definition is significantly different for others.

With the rise in popularity of Angular and all the other JavaScript MVC frameworks, back-end logic has moved into the browser. Calling this kind of development “front-end” is technically correct (the best kind). It is front-end. But it’s so very different from what I do. The skill set required seems to have more in common with a back-end programmer.

Sure, I’ve dabbled, and trepidations aside, I even think I might like where these frameworks are going (Jeremy Keith has recently summed up the concerns). But after some pondering it struct me, do I want to be doing this work? It’s not what I’m best at. I don’t really enjoy it.

Is that simply because I haven’t taken the time to learn this stuff to a professional level? I’ve spent a good amount of time playing with these technologies. I understand the concepts, certainly enough to consider, and doubt, whether I can realistically stretch my range of services so broadly.

It shouldn’t be an expectation that a front-end developer can program applications just because the language is now JavaScript. I don’t think it is, at least not yet. My frustration stems from the growing number of enquiries I receive, and opportunities I seek out, looking for a front-end developer to build a website, only to discover in follow-up discussion that the entire thing is Angular.

I want to be content knowing there are some roles I don’t need to fulfil, regardless of job title definitions. But I can’t help feeling in limbo right now. I don’t want to limit myself either. It’s OK that I don’t do Angular, but maybe one day I will.


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