Saturday, October 11, 2014

MakerSquare Day 33: Front- and Back-End (7/5)

When I started at MakerSquare, my sister asked if I could make her a website. At that point, we were deep into Ruby, which is not really (at all) what you would want to build a website in.

(Though, to complicate issues, there's lots of Ruby-ish qualities to tools that'll help you build a website, like Jekyll (for generating static websites) and Liquid (a template language that seems a little bit like code) and Sass/Scss (for styling your pages). So, yeah.)

But now, this week we spent two days playing around with HTML and CSS and...

...And I realized I never talked about the front-end/back-end division, which I've mentioned a few times. Is it clear what I mean when I say that? What if I said "full-stack"? (Don't worry, I won't say "full-stack," at least not in reference to my skill-set.)

The general division between front- and back-end is, uh, basically in the name. If you need an analogy, think of the front-end as the client-facing side of just about anything: the salesclerk helping a customer find the right size suit/dress is working front-end. The guy in the back, unloading pallets of clothes and organizing the employees-only room in back? He's doing back-end work.

Or, in honor of my librarian girlfriend teaching me about libraries: the librarian who helps you find a book and checks it out for you is only one small part of the library. In the back rooms, doing the back-end work, there are a lot of librarians doing the cataloguing and dealing with the rarer customer requests (like interlibrary loans).

In web development, that division of labor (or separation of concerns) comes out in the separation of back-end logic (how we store data and how we do a lot of work on that data) and front-end presentation (which is how the website is presented to the user and how it responds to that user). There's some overlap--even when I worked as a stockboy at a health-food store, I sometimes helped out customers find the right vitamins for their terrible ailments--but that's the general division between web developers.

So in a few weeks, after working on my sister's website, I'll probably be able to tell you if I like this far front-end work.

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