What front end development means

So what exactly is front end development?
Well when we build websites there’s two things going on: first of all we have a server which
is a computer where our website is hosted. On that server we have what’s called our back
end code. In the Drupal world this includes our PHP code, as well as our database, and
anything on the server is considered the back end. The front end, on the other hand, is anything
that happens inside of the browser. So that would include HTML, CSS and Javascript. With
Drupal the two worlds are often mixed. The back end code is responsible for generating
the HTML and CSS that gets sent to the browser. In a lot of ways Drupal, and other CMSs and
frameworks, have allowed us to bridge this gap, this period of time where we didn’t have
good front end tools for organizing complicated code in sustainable ways. In the last couple of years however the range
of front end tools has broadened dramatically, to the point where we no longer need a back
end in order to organize complicated CSS, HTML and Javascript. In addition, as I mentioned before, there’s
been a decoupling of the back end and the front end, and the form this usually takes
are APIs. A back end is used to sort and aggregate data and then that data is sent to the front
end, and the front end takes care of displaying that data. This is the reason why many people
are focusing on a front end development skills set: it’s highly portable, it doesn’t depend
on any particular back end. So you can use them with Drupal or any other
CMS as well as any other framework, including frameworks in other languages and other platforms,
like Node JS, for example. It’s also possible to build a complete application
without managing your own back end at all just using third-party APIs like Facebook
or Twitter. This is something that you can’t say about the back end. A back end requires
a front end in order to interface with real people. So at its core front end development boils
down to three components: HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Everything else that you learn about front
end development is intended to help you organize and generate HTML, CSS and Javascript files. So we’re going to start at the beginning,
assuming that you know nothing about HTML, CSS or Javascript. We’ll begin by looking
at what HTML is and how to structure HTML markup, then we’ll layer on how to use CSS
in order to style that HTML. Now the deeper you go into front end development
the more complicated it seems, because there’s additional layers on top of this basic layer
that we need to keep aware of. For example, to lay a Response Design on top of this basic
foundation of HTML and CSS adds a good bit of complexity, and then if we add the additional
layers of building our code for accessibility and for optimal performance, it starts to
feel a little crazy making. So while a big part of what we’re going to
cover in this series has to do with the actual techniques and technologies, my hope is that
I can demonstrate the benefits of adding these additional layers and help you manage the
complexity in a way so that you don’t get overwhelmed. Okay, so let’s begin.


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