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The front end toolkit
 

The front end toolkit

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    The front end toolkit The front end toolkit Presentation Transcript

    • The front-end toolkit For the modern web developer
    • A brief history • This is gonna be short… • ...cos front-end development has been around for about 5 minutes in the big scheme of things… • Back in the dark ages, software developers and the like used to “design” apps and websites. [shudder] • Designers of the time were horrified, but were too busy printing shit out on paper and had no clue as to how this new-fangled internetness worked. • SO….
    • Front-end development was born! • It basically covers: wire-framing, client-side presentation & programming, user interface, “UX” design, and other confusing buzzwords. • The role has only really come of age quite recently, and it’s still a bit of a grey area as to what front-end development entails. Meaning… • There’s a crap load of jobs out there for front-end developers… and even more for code monkeys who can get their hands dirty on the client-side!
    • So get excited about front-end development :D …cos it looks like it’s here to stay… at least for the foreseeable-ish future… • More and more employers are looking for devs with mad front-end skillz • A lot of it is still uncharted territory, a veritable wild west where best practices and standards are still not firmly established. • Some smart cookies have realised the need for a reliable, DRY approach to front-end development that make it easier to get started.
    • The tools we’ll be looking at today In alphabetical order… • Bootstrap & Foundation • CoffeeScript • Compass & Sass • Grunt • Haml & Handlebars • jQuery
    • Compass & Sass • Compass is a rails-based tool built for speedy web app presentation. • It follows the rails philosophy of not repeating oneself by generating CSS (something which has been rather clunky and tedious to work with in the past) in a programmatic way. • Compass itself is a nice big handy library to use with Sass. Sass itself has a fair amount of useful functions built-in, Compass is basically like strapping a jetpack to Sass. • It makes web presentation a whole lot faster, easier and more fun.
    • OK that’s nice… but what kinda stuff does Compass do? • Cross-browser bug fixes and browser-specific prefixes • Sneaky hacks for legacy browsers • Data-URI generation for images • Automatic sprite-sheet generation! • Basic programming shenanigans like variables, methods, conditionals and loops.
    • Bootstrappin’ • Some clever folks have put together front-end ‘frameworks’ for whipping up sites and apps in a matter of hours. • The two most popular right now are Twitter’s Bootstrap and Zurb’s Foundation. • Presentational elements are easily customisable and they include some fancy pants JavaScript for cool interactivity straight out of the box. • They are a back-end developer’s dream; a really quick solution to the rigors of design and front- end development.
    • The down-sides of using front-end frameworks • It’s easy to end up with a very generic looking app or site, which generally looks a lot like the other brazillion websites using a bootstrap. • All that simplicity comes at a price… like any framework, there is a lack of flexibility. • They don’t exactly follow web development best practices… The one-size-fits-all approach to front-end dev means a certain degree of hackiness which can become troublesome.
    • CoffeeScript • JavaScript has irked developers since it found it’s place as the predominant client-side scripting language. • It’s actually a pretty cool language, it’s quite forgiving and very versatile. Unfortunately it can become quite repetitive and security vulnerabilities can arise when undiscerning developers get there hands on it.
    • CoffeeScript • CoffeeScript provides some syntactic sugar that makes JavaScript a whole lot sweeter to write. • It deals with a lot of the irksome repetition required to keep things secure. • It’s indent-based syntax is similar to Ruby or Python and is way easier to read • You can do tricksy stuff in less lines of code.
    • Grunt • The ultimate pre-processing tool: you can tell Grunt to watch everything that needs watching... Sass, Less, CoffeeScript, Haml, etc… • Grunt can also do cool stuff like compress images on-the-fly… might not sound that cool, but it’s a super annoying repetitive task. • Lint and Hint – to help keep your code clean, point out errors, security issues and other handy stuff the browser console won’t tell you.
    • Aside: Yeoman • Yeoman is a hip new web app development tool which combines the power of Grunt, Yo and Bower. • Yo is a scaffolding tool which fleshes out an application and sets up Grunt configuration. • Bower goes off and fetches all the additional scripts and resources, then keeps them up to date. • Unfortunately at the moment Yeoman works on Mac  but it looks pretty handy…
    • Haml & other templating languages • Just like CSS and JavaScript, HTML has also become one of the bottlenecks in front-end development. This is where the ‘templating languages’ come in handy. • Haml is another rails tool which is used to make templating a breeze. Once again, it uses an indent-based syntax to make mark-up cleaner, simpler and easier to read.
    • The magic of jQuery • Most of you have probably already heard of jQuery; the JavaScript library that lets designers do the coding. • jQuery UI is a massive library that includes a standardised collection of interactive elements which are incredibly fast and easy to implement into a project. • jQuery Mobile has been built from the ground up to help devs get a mobile version of a website or app up and running quickly. • It includes listeners for mobile device inputs like multitouch, swipe and pinch gestures. • It means you can build a web app with behaviour similar to a native app!
    • Other great front-end tools available • The development landscape is always changing, and new tools are popping up all the time. • Check out PhoneGap – a platform for making web apps which function and behave like native apps. • JavaScript application frameworks like AngularJS, Backbone and Ember.
    • To wrap things up… • These are all handy tools to have at your disposal, go out and give them a go on your next project. Keep an eye for more, and don’t get too attached to any one tool! • Front-end work doesn’t have to be a hassle, if anything ever seems dull, tedious or repetitive, there’s a 99% chance that somebody’s built a fancy tool to make it easier and more fun… Hell, that’s what development is all about.