So-called Web “Developers”

So, I have been seeing this more and more.  I see the term “Web Developer” being applied to anybody that can do basic HTML5 and CSS scripting.  Even worse, I see the term being applied to people that do not know enough to understand how the back end works, or cannot even spell LAMP.

If you can do your job just using Notepad and Chrome (i.e. no compiler), with no back end services, you are just a “scripter.” Just make peace with that, and stop trivializing what real developers do.  And no, you are not writing a “web app,” you are scripting web pages (although maybe for someone else’s actual app).  Does PHP executing DB queries count?  Maybe – if you also (properly) designed the database it is working with.

A few years ago, Samuel L. Jackson commented how he felt about rappers appearing in movies and how people might “give them the same kind of credibility and weight that you give me, Morgan Freeman, Laurence Fishburne, Forest Whitaker — that’s like an aberration to me; you just can’t do that,” seemingly talking issue with anyone that appears in a movie being called an “actor.”  The article is interesting – you should read it.

Now when I first heard about that, I thought that he was being petty, and a bit of an asshole.  However as I got older, I began to understand and appreciate it more.  Untrained or minimally trained people touting themselves as actors severely diminishes what SLJ does, who he is, and what it took for him to get there.

Similarly,  Someone that only does web pages and calls themselves a web developer, diminishes me and other lifelong devs like me that have been writing code since before web browsers existed, and likely before these scripting kids were even breathing air.

Here is a good way to know the difference: developers build what the web page scripters need in order to have their pages do something useful.  Devs build apps, scripters build pages.

So before you fancy yourself a web “developer” and put that word on your CV, be a little more honest about yourself and what you actually do.  We are not contemporaries here.

Lastly, if you build any kind of web application that runs in a browser, and I can break it by pressing the navigate-back and/or navigate-forward buttons and you have to pop up warning boxes telling users not to do that, then you fucked up.  You did not develop a web app, you developed a web abomination.  So either you need to actually learn how to do it right, or need to realize that a web browser is not the right presentation platform for your app, or maybe both.  Either way, Please do not sully the word developer with such things.