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The JavaScript Framework Hang-up

 

This hang-up with JavaScript Frameworks has been something I’ve been keen to publish for some time, more than anything to get engineers thoughts and help hiring managers and Internal HR recruiters really understand what JavaScript hiring is about.

Time and time again my colleagues and I send CV’s on to companies looking for JavaScript Developers only to hear feedback such as, “he/she does not have enough Backbone” or “Lots of React experience but we use Flux not Redux.” I do my best to overcome this objection in a professional manner without sounding too condescending, remembering I am not an engineer but a recruiter. I appreciate that as a recruiter I need to listen to what a client is using and deliver the right profile back, but come on “YOU’RE MISSING OUT HERE”!

Here is the thing, and I’m sure a lot of good engineers will empathise with this, don’t worry about whether someone has Backbone, Knockout, Express, Ember, Underscore etc etc. but consider whether they have sufficient programming experience in the JavaScript language itself, particularly functional and object-oriented approaches? Have they used an MVC framework in the past? Can they write hand-coded JavaScript from scratch? What is their problem-solving ability like?

The developer who tries to learn every framework to keep up with the latest trend is not as valuable as the specialist JavaScript developer who knows JS inside out. Of course it is important for engineers to keep abreast with the technology and not to get stuck in their ways but it’s about knowing the core principles first and foremost.

There are a lot of full stack PHP developers over the years that I have tried to place with organisations looking for JavaScript Engineers only to be rejected but now find themselves in senior JS positions because they knew their language and they knew their frameworks. All they needed was the documentation and a little bit of time and they grasped it far quicker than the JQuery hacker who never went to University or who never learned JavaScript.

Interestingly enough I have actually started to see a recent (albeit mini) trend away from frameworks in a few large companies. I’m not saying companies are moving away from frameworks but when you look at the likes of FT.com and Zoopla ditching frameworks in favour of vanilla JS on the client side it makes you think what’s up and why? This is mainly due to the SEO implications (not having to cajole Google into parsing and indexing an SPA built using JavaScript) and mobile file size implications (not wanting to force mobile users to download massive amount of large JS files to render site). In turn this has meant moving back towards more server-side rendering (NodeJS) using templating languages like Handlebars and Pug. This means huge rendering speed and a much more simplistic stack.

A framework will be chosen to fit the purpose of the project. This may mean a top class developer might not have worked with frameworks such as React OR Angular because the project has dictated it’s not right but he is going to learn it pretty damn quickly given the chance because ultimately he knows the core principles. I do appreciate that some JavaScript frameworks do not have the same architectural paradigm for example Angular (MVC) and React (V) which is actually a library rather full featured framework, so there may be a steeper learning curve. Or if a contractor is needed to plug a quick gap engineers would need to know these BUT long term this shouldn’t be a concern. And to emphasise my earlier point, just as everyone has assumed Redux has become the king of fluxes, there is a new kid on the bloc that has a good chance to dethrone it! MobX it’s called. You get my point now; things are moving so quickly, all you engineers, hiring managers, internal recruiters and agents, I say to you “don’t get hung-up on the JS framework hang-up”.

William Excell

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