Going back to basics as a developer

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

I remember one time at a previous job I was tasked with putting together a test for potential new developers.

One of the things I came up with involved creating a basic Web page from scratch.

This seemed trivial and a good way to filter out unsuitable candidates.

But to my surprise, people really struggling with this. Even one of them that impressed in the initial talking stage of the interview. They had plenty of experience, but clearly didn’t know, or had forgot, the basics.

To me this is a really worrying idea. I know how it is. You get used to working within a particular platform or framework. You have your ways of doing things and forget how to do the simplest of things. Because its simply not required a lot of the time.

But we should really be conscious of this as developers. And jobs sometimes don’t help. They don’t want us doing the basics, they want us working on complex problems, using tools that save time. But really we can move further and further away from the underpinnings of certain languages / technologies. Jobs can trap us in ecosystems and even worse, trap us in the jobs themselves.

You might know how to use jQuery to attach event handlers, but can you do it vanilla JavaScript? You may know how to write React but could you put together a similar framework yourself? (Using nothing but vanilla JavaScript?)

As developers we should take the time to learn vanilla technologies, we should put together flat HTML sites now and then, write pure CSS. Try to put something together in vanilla JavaScript. Hell, even maybe write a short program in C or x86 assembly.

This can all help us to be better developers but even better than that. It can help us stand the test of time. I’m pretty sure React will die before JavaScript does. And when the community forgets about React and moves onto something else, you’ll be in a much better position.

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