Episode 87 - February 14, 2022

Flying Solo on the Front End of Despair

00:00 / 00:00


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The focus of today's episode is the tricky role of a solo front-end developer, and we kick things off by sharing some of the experiences we have had working in this configuration. This is a plain and simple show today, without any guests, and our panel gets into some thoughts on the links between front-end dev work and specialization, learning through negative feedback, and the many different levels of accessibility. The conversation also covers how to go about solving problems that reach beyond your scope, and why this can be so hard without a team focusing on the front-end. The consensus seems to be that there is a definite trade-off when working alone versus joining forces and that both scenarios have their advantages. To end things off for today's chat we share a few picks, from TV shows and DIY decor to a new YouTube personality who Tessa thinks is worth checking out! Join us to hear all.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • The panel's experiences of working as a lone front-end developer on a team.
  • Front-end development and specialization; we explore how the two are linked. 
  • Bad programming habits and learning what not to do on the job. 
  • The importance of accessibility and the time that goes into the different levels. 
  • Thoughts on solving new, unknown problems with no one else on your team.
  • Finding answers to problems in the treacherous waters of Twitter! 
  • Issues with trackpads, mice, scrollbars, and different browsers.
  • Difficulties with asking the right questions; fear of embarrassment and a lack of vocabulary.  
  • The kind of learning and knowledge accumulation that suits a solo front-end developer. 
  • Final thoughts on the challenges and requirements for working alone on front-end dev. 
  • This week's picks! Peet Montzingo, googly eyes, and Maid.


“Even if you know CSS, I think it's not really something that you can show or that people are necessarily looking for.” — Tessa [0:08:11]

“You can learn a lot about how to do things by learning how not to do things.” — Alex [0:13:56]

“It has been tremendously helpful to have all of the resources I've gained through the people that I've interacted with on the show.” — @GloomyLumi [0:28:18]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:



[00:00:10] Ar: Hey everybody, and welcome to Enjoy the Vue. I'm Ari, and today, on our…

[00:00:15] T: I fixed the script for you, Ari.

[00:00:23] Ar: Today on our panel, we have Tessa.

[00:00:27] T: Hello.

[00:00:28] Ar: And Alex.

[00:00:30] Al: Hello.

[00:00:31] Ar: Today, it’s just us. So, let’s start with a roundtable question that will lead into today's topic. So, today's question is, have you ever been the only front-end dev on your team?  Alex?

[00:00:47] Al: I have.

[00:00:49] T: He's making a face no one will appreciate.

[00:00:52] Al: My cat is licking my arm right now. I've been the lone front-end dev on the team before and it was interesting.

[00:01:04] Ar: What about you, Tessa?

[00:01:05] T: I've been the lone front-end dev on a team before, but I'm not sure how we're defining it because the team also had full stack developer. So theoretically, they also worked in the front end, which they did do a lot. And they learned a lot of Vue, which was great, good for them. So, hard to say. But I guess I was the only one that was focused 100% on the front end on that team, because they want to be there to work on Vue stuff specifically.

[00:01:32] Ar: So, vast majority of my career, I have been the only front end — for just over a year at the start of my career, there was another front-end dev but he left and they did not replace him. 

[00:01:46] T: I'm sure that they valued you highly for being the only person working in such a specialized and difficult field.

[00:01:53] Ar: No, they did not.

[00:01:58] Al: There was a point at which I was a — I was kind of a lone dev at the company, the web dev at the company. We had some outside contractors, but I was the only person working full time who was considered a web developer. And I implemented a very large Vue application there and worked on some other things, too that was very weird and interesting. I’ve been there. It's been interesting. They valued my skill set. There was a limit to that value.

[00:02:34] T: I like how you were telling a story, when this cut just kept on getting like closer and closer and closer. So, this isn't the place where you implemented that, like mix in strategy, is it?

[00:02:50] Al: No, no, that was the next place, where there was actually a team of front-end devs. This is a place that I implemented a theming system within Vue.

[00:03:01] T: So, that everybody could enjoy Comic Sans?

[00:03:03] Al: Yeah, and you could like override, you could import the root version of component, the base version of the component, and you could also like override that component. But you could also import the base version of the component from the override version. So, you could use the same template but be like, the data, and this one's a little bit different. It was very complicated. It was a very complicated web pack set up. I’m still very proud of it.

[00:03:30] T: Web tech. I just gave a lightning talk on Vit and it turned out another one of the inspirations was just Webpack config is very complex, despite what Twitter would have you believe. That's another fun thing I feel like about being a front-end dev is every place has their own special Webpack config that doesn't look anything like whatever is the current version of the docs, and yet it somehow still works.

[00:03:54] Ar: I find that the most frustrating part for me, having spent the vast majority of my career as the only front-end dev is that I feel like I don't really know anything, but I know a little bit about everything. But I feel like I'm building everything on this really shaky foundation, that’s eventually just going to follow up.

[00:04:22] T: It is unfortunate, but at least you can have some comfort in knowing that is an exclusively sole front-end dev problem, like me as a non-sole front-end dev and Alex is a white man, know everything in the book, and also the things not in the books. 

[00:04:35] Al: Yeah. They keep on asking me to write a book about being a white man in tech and I'm just like, “I don't know if the time is right, right now but you know, someday maybe.”

[00:04:47] T: When we kick you off the show, that can be a road to redemption, making it all about you.

[00:04:55] Ar: Maybe this is just like a grass is greener thing, but it always feels like In my head, I feel like people who work on a team of front-end devs get the opportunity to like, specialize in something like accessibility, or they get really good at CSS or really good at some particular aspect of front-end development, because let's face it, front-end development is like this massive spectrum of different things. Am I just imagining that is that? Is that like a thing that people get to do?

[00:05:26] T: I feel like it's more an accident of Agile, a lot of the time like this idea of you get to pick the tickets. And then especially like, if you're working in a high stress, high delivery environment, like a startup, which there are tons of in tech, and the emphasis is on speed, then you might be inclined or your product manager might be inclined to push you towards tickets in areas that you're already familiar with. And so, because of that, like specialization, maybe it's not even a specific technology, it's just like a specific feature or something, is born out of that. 

[00:06:04] Ar: Because I'm not imagining that, like specialization is a thing that happens when you have a team.

[00:06:10] Al: It can be, yeah. I've worked on a small team of front-end devs together, and it was interesting, seeing who was better at what, because you think that you're good at something, and then somebody else comes along, and you're like, “Oh, I don't know anything about this, apparently.”

[00:06:29] T: Yeah, like your designer thought that they were good at fonts. And then you came along, and they were like, “Oh, I learned nothing in design school.”

[00:06:36] Ar: That's what I feel that everything.

[00:06:40] Al: It's one of those where finding — and sometimes it's good to have that, too. Like, it's not necessarily bad to have a specialization within a team.

[00:06:50] Ar: I’m advocating that it's a good thing.

[00:06:52] Al: Right. It can be a good thing. It can be a bad thing. It can be a good thing, because…

[00:06:56] T: Especially when you want to switch jobs.

[00:07:00] Al: Yeah. If you’re the one person who understand CSS really well, and then you leave, it's like, “Oh, no, we don't know what our design system is doing anymore”, which means you probably did not document things well enough.

[00:07:10] T: Or we're not given the resources to document things.

[00:07:13] Al: Or we're not given the resources to document things.

[00:07:16] Ar: Yeah, that person doesn't have a problem getting another job because someone who's good at CSS and is a front-end dev, like most places actually do somewhat value because a lot of us are so bad at it.

[00:07:26] T: Well, I would say most places want that, but not value it. Typically, if you really specialize in CSS.

[00:07:35] Ar: Yeah, that’s fair. They don't pay for it. That is totally fair. It's not valued monetarily.

[00:07:43] T: I feel like in most of the front-end interviews and tests that I've seen, they don't really test for CSS. The one time I was asked CSS questions was for a fan company. And even that felt kind of like, that was the one that I learned the specificity table for, which I feel like isn't necessarily. I'm glad that I knew it, and I think it shows something, but I don't know. I feel like we could have just skipped that whole interview. So, even if you know CSS, I think it's not really something that you can show or that people are necessarily looking for. But if you can't do it at all, you'll still get a job, you'll just hate CSS.

[00:08:23] Ar: I think yeah, one of my greatest frustrations is that I feel like I'm failing on things that are or that I view as should be fundamental, like accessibility. I wish I had the expertise to know that I'm doing it right all the time. But I also know that I'm not doing it right all the time. I try my best, like, I'm well intentioned, but you know what they say about good intentions?

[00:08:54] T: Intentions over impact?

[00:08:57] Ar: Exactly, yeah. Yeah, when it comes to accessibility impact definitely wins out.

[00:09:03] T: And only in that area.

[00:09:05] Ar: I mean, yeah. I can tell someone using the site, “I was really well intentioned, like I thought this would be good for you.” And they're like, “I can't use it like that.” It doesn't matter what I thought I was doing, especially being the sole front-end dev at a startup with, like you said, Tessa, where speed is generally an emphasis. I don't ever feel like I have the time to gain the level of expertise needed to do pretty much any particular aspect of my job well.

[00:09:38] T: You just have to get it done, that’s the thing that you do well.

[00:09:41] Ar: I just do all of it adequately. And then it ends up being like, I just end up building this monstrosity that has multiple layers of weakness that eventually all of the layers lined up in one area and it all just falls down and crumbles and I'm like, “Oh crap, now, I have to figure out how to get myself out of this mess.”

[00:10:03] T: Congratulations, you've built an app that is the quality that a team would have built. But also, I feel like all the experts that I've seen or heard or worked with that specialize in accessibility, specifically, I think this is particularly hard for people that don't want to — fairly, don't want to do extra work outside of their work hours, have kind of gone out of their way to do accessibility on their own, sometimes behind manager’s backs until they have like a proof of concept or whatever that they can see. 

Or sometimes they never get to that point, or they're not in a position where they can be like, “See, I felt this thing and it works and this is why it's better.” But having their time estimate, so they have time to implement accessibility features, or like researching stuff after work or on their own or taking extra time on the weekends or whatever to add accessibility, and make sure everything is working well. And that's how they got to be experts in accessibility.

So, I think the road to being an accessible developer is itself not accessible, especially if you went to like a boot camp or something. I haven't yet seen any programs that teach that stuff. Also, when you look on social media, a lot of times the commentary around it, especially intro stuff is like just do X or like just use semantic HTML, it's not that hard. And then the implication is like, you should already know how to be perfect at it. So, that also makes it a little bit discouraging, I think.

[00:11:37] Ar: I guess it's frustrating. I don't think that you're necessarily wrong about the, you have to spend time outside of work hours. But as someone who has ADHD, like that is really difficult for me to do. I need time not doing it, focusing on something completely unrelated to my job in order for me to emotionally survive. Now, just like, thinking every decision I've made in my career was probably just wrong. But I also don't do well at corporations. So, I can’t win.

[00:12:12] T: And to be clear, I'm not saying that you should be spending time outside of work. I'm saying that the people that I've seen that are accessibility experts now got there by either spending time outside of work or patting their estimates, but I don't think that either of those things are things that you should have to do. I don't think that would be fair. Since everyone is silent, I just want you to know that they were all nodding.

[00:12:36] Ar: Yes, we were. We were all nodding. Like yes, Tessa. So wise. I mean, that was basically what I was thinking, but the way I said it sounded like worse than I meant it, too.

[00:12:51] T: It’s because I wasn't the sole front-end developer isn’t it?

[00:12:56] Ar: Your insight on that is dead on. Yeah, like generally, that is how you end up in that space. But not everyone can do that. And like you said, not everyone should have to take that road.

[00:13:11] Al: Yeah. And a lot of times, it's not even that people are aware that it's an option. There were times like my first job, doing agency stuff, and just sort of like making random websites for people. There were times that we had to go into websites and add something to it and they were just like, “Get it done. Get it done. I don't care how you do it.” I learned a lot of really bad programming practices that like as you're doing it, you're like, “This is 100% the wrong way to do this, but I don't have another option.” So, I've learned — you can learn a lot about how to do things by learning how not to do things, and like knowing how, that like, as you're doing it, you're like, “This is such a bad idea.”

[00:14:06] T: That's your MO, how not to do things.

[00:14:10] Ar: That's my expertise. I know how to not do things because that's how I did them. 

[00:14:16] Al: Yeah, but simultaneously like at that job, like I didn't know accessibility was a thing. I never would have thought about that in a million years had I stayed there, because it wasn't a thing that was important there at all, with the just “get it done” mentality. It wasn't until like, the next job that I had where I like happened to go to a conference and somebody was giving talk about accessibility and I was just like, “Oh my gosh!” My mind was just blown. I was just like, “Oh, this is the thing. This is what — yeah, this all makes so much more sense now. That's why that's been feeling wrong.” Not having other points of view, not having other people to bounce ideas off of, it's very difficult when you're doing stuff by yourself, because you may be like, “I know that I'm not doing this right. But I don't know the best way to do this. So, I'll go with what I know.” And that's why you still have like, float-based layouts.

[00:15:29] Ar: I have a story about float-based layouts. This story starts with when I wasn't the only front-end dev, but it was my first job.

[00:15:40] T: Now, I wish we had that Oh, Baby from Oscar to play. So perfect.

[00:15:47] Ar: Yeah, so I was hired to be more of like the JavaScript developer

[00:15:53] T: You mean, Java developer?

[00:15:55] Ar: And I was hired at the same time. No, we had one of those. And at the same time that I was hired, they also hired this guy, who had apparently a stronger background in CSS and whatnot, the more visual aspects of it. So, I trusted that this person had a proficiency in, you know, modern layouts. But when he left, I discovered that all of our layout’s workflow based in an era where Flex and Grid both existed. I will say it was really satisfying to refactor those into Grid, because at the time, I was not proficient enough with Flex to do it with Flex. I know, weird that I could do Grid well, because I spent the time to learn Grid.

[00:16:45] T: That’s interesting. I took the whole West boss course and then didn't need to use it for a year. So, by the time I needed the knowledge, it was gone.

[00:16:54] Ar: I did Grid Critters, which is a game. I honestly like yeah, it's not the cheapest option, especially…

[00:17:03] T: Is that one of Dave Geddes, whatever course? Okay. Yeah. Sounds like it.

[00:17:06] Ar: Yes. It was honestly really good. That is the one thing I feel like I know pretty well is Grid.

[00:17:17] Al: Is that like Flexbox Froggy?

[00:17:19] T: I thought he did Flex Zombies or something would be the Dave version.

[00:17:23] Ar: Yeah, he also had a Flex one, and I think it was zombies.

[00:17:28] Al: Yeah, the people who made Flexbox Froggy did Grid Garden.

[00:17:33] Ar: Yeah. This was a paid option. But honestly, it was really worth it. I especially appreciated the fact that it very explicitly tells you not to try to do it all in one day. It has very deliberate stopping points to help you retain things better by doing it over time, and it worked.

[00:17:53] T: I'm envisioning now that we're comparing like MDN, to Grid Garden to Grid Critters. Which one do we think is worth it?

[00:18:09] Ar: Yeah, I didn't do Grid Garden, so I can't speak to that. But I can say that Grid Critters worked well for me. But yeah, so as I say, it was really satisfying to refactor float-based layouts into not float-based layouts.

[00:18:26] T: Maybe the developer was just preparing in case there was some kind of like flood online, so that your app would still stay afloat and be able to serve everybody.

[00:18:39] Ar: Oh, my God.

[00:18:41] T: I mean, imagine if you only had…

[00:18:43] Ar: Tessa, it’s really nice having you on the show.

[00:18:45] T: If you only had floats when you needed them, then you would end up with another like Jack and Rose on the freaking door situation where there's just one device that you can use, okay.

[00:18:55] Ar: It was a door frame, because that's the important.

[00:19:00] T: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, when we're talking about the box model.

[00:19:05] Ar: Oh, Tessa. I thought we got all of the CSS jokes out on the last episode. 

[00:19:13] T: We’re just getting started.

[00:19:20] Ar: Apparently.

[00:19:21] Al: Yeah, we're just at the Flex start. 

[00:19:27] T: There are those things with the episode we did with Oscar and there were so many catchphrases in there. That was a great one.

[00:19:32] Ar: Yeah. That was one time where like, I specifically carved out the time to do it during work hours. I literally told my boss it's going to look like I'm not working, that I'm just playing a video game, but I swear it's work.

[00:19:45] T: Yeah. When I did the Grid class, I think I was working for a designer and everybody was like, “Good for you. It's good that you're learning this in advance when we don't have like an imminent deadline.” But for accessibility, like my first job was working on an information visualization product. And so, we talked about like not just using color to distinguish bars in a bar chart, for example, like using patterns and things. I don't think beyond that, we ever really had any specific discussions about it. 

And so, the first time I was really aware that accessibility was kind of a field in itself was maybe a year, or just under a year into the job. And it was really because all their alums of my school took it upon themselves to become accessibility champions, and they were talking about it all the time, and that's when I was like, “Oh, this is a thing and it's important.”

[00:20:38] Ar: It's one of those things where, like, you can — the basics of accessibility, I'm not going to say are easy, because they're not. It takes effort. But even just the most basic accessibility doesn't cover it. There are so many advanced accessibility patterns that you have to actively know that you need to look for. I didn't know that there's an accessibility specification for how toolbars should work. And it involves what is it, roving tab index? I feel like most people haven't heard of it. So yeah, there's all these like little gotchas and pitfalls that can get you along the way.

[00:21:20] T: Alex is sitting there like, “Not me, I know everything about accessibility. They call me the accessibility king around here.”

[00:21:29] Al: No. I got the basics of it. But I would try and figure out how to implement something where I don't need a roving tab index.

[00:21:39] Ar: So, I figured out there is a Vue library that does it for you easily, which is what I ended up going with. Yeah, it requires some amount of JavaScript to do it properly, and I was just like, I do not feel confident enough in this. And then I happen to just like Vue roving tab index. And I was like, “Oh, there's a library literally called that, awesome.”

[00:22:09] Al: Is that the 4RK Vue roving tab index?

[00:22:14] Ar: I don't know. Probably. Let's just assume that, yeah.

[00:22:18] T: So, as the sole front-end dev, you're stuck on a problem, you can't figure it out, you've googled it, there's no answers, you look at the docs, the docs are on fire. You watch all the classes, none of the classes talk about the thing that you need to do. What now?

[00:22:36] Al: You add position absolute, and hope for the best and move on.

[00:22:45] Ar: I have absolutely run into that problem more than once, and what I have found is that, my only like real option is to make a small — no, never. It's to make a small reproduction, and either go directly to another dev that I know or I've even crowdsourced it on Twitter, and had an answer within an hour. But I would say that making the small reproduction is the key to that.

[00:23:16] Al: Is that one of those instances where like you…

[00:23:19] T: Should @GloomyLumi?

[00:23:20] Al: Is that one of those instances where you can be like, “Here's how I'm doing this thing”, and post the clearly wrong way.

[00:23:27] T: Oh, no. I hate that.

[00:23:28] Al: And see how many comments you can get?

[00:23:30] T: No. I'm getting hives. I'm getting upset.

[00:23:33] Al: That are like, “No, no, here's how you actually are supposed to do it. Get all the well actually guys to show up.”

[00:23:41] Ar: I somehow have managed to avoid a lot of that on Twitter. I don't know how. Actually, here's what I think it is. I don't think I'm cute enough anymore to attract that type of person. So, it's a blessing and a downer. Not going to say curse, but a little depressing that I'm not cute enough to be harassed on Twitter anymore.

[00:24:03] T: I am highly suspicious of that reasoning. I think it's more just a function of the number of followers. I feel like 5,000 is the number that's supposed to be magical.

[00:24:13] Ar: I don't know. I feel like I see super cute girls with like a thousand followers get well actual-lied all the time. Because there is, unfortunately, a correlation between perceived intelligence and hotness and they’re inversely proportionate.

[00:24:28] T: I think I know how I've avoided it and it's that I get zero replies, whenever I was stuck on something, I ask on Twitter. So, that's the magic bullet right there.

[00:24:39] Ar: I mean, there have been times where I didn't get responses. But usually those were times where I didn't provide a reproduction. It turns out, like coders love to debug someone else's code. So, if you give them the actual code, they're like, hell yes.

[00:24:53] T: I’m making the actual repro case, sometimes is really painful, especially if you're doing CSS bug.

[00:24:59] Ar: It is. So, I have to be stuck enough for it to be worth it worth. That is the key. 

[00:25:07] Al: Yeah. Debugging a visual issue is always the hardest, because it's like, “Okay, but what is actually causing this? Is it because I have this weird overlay thing? Or is it because of this other thing? Or what?” And then like, you find like the one weird thing in there that's happening.

[00:25:25] Ar: Yeah. I had a tool tip positioning issue, and it was solved with one line by someone else and I was so grateful for that.

[00:25:33] T: My first team also bonded over a hit of tooltips. The most annoying visual bug I've ever had to deal with. It wasn't even really a bug. I was working with a teammate, I was doing a PR and I kept on — or not a PR, I was doing a code review. And I kept on telling her like, “You need to put overflow hidden or whatever it was, overflow auto on this window, because the scroll bar is showing 100% of the time.” And she was like, “I literally can't see the scroll bar.” I was like, “Okay, I don't know why, but just put the thing on the window and you'll see it.” I don't think she disbelieved me, she just couldn't reproduce it for whatever reason.

And at the time, I was beta testing this browser called Replay, which is really cool. It's like a recorded debuggable snapshot of your website. So, I was able to capture literally the scroll bar showing using the tool and she’s like, “Oh my gosh.” You know what the problem was? Mac’s default behavior, if you have a mouse plugged in or not, and I wasn't even using my mouse, but it was just constantly connected to my computer via Bluetooth. So, that's why I can see the scroll bar and she couldn’t.

[00:26:34] Ar: Oh, that's so weird.

[00:26:36] Al: There's a Mac OS setting that you have to do, either in Safari or in the settings itself to be like, show the scroll bars all the time.

[00:26:47] Ar: I must have that enabled.

[00:26:48] Al: But they show up all the time if you have a mouse then, but if you are using the touchpad, then they don’t. Because it's like, “Oh, why would we need to show a scroll bar, you're using a touchpad.”

[00:26:57] T: I also feel like a lot of developers don't use mice. But often a lot of the users of their products do use mice. So, it was really lucky that I set up my mouse and then just happened to not be using it because it was in at dining table.

[00:27:09] Ar: Touché. Show scroll bars. There are three options, automatically based on mouse or trackpad when scrolling always. And I have it set on automatically based on mouse and trackpad. This is so crazy. Today I learned something that I probably should have noticed at some point.

[00:27:32] Al: I've heard stories of other people running into that exact same issue too.

[00:27:36] T: I think it's pretty hard. It's a pretty difficult issue to run into. Because you have to happen to be debugging the other use case.

[00:27:44] Al: I think it only shows up — I think it's like it only shows up in like Safari?

[00:27:49] T: I'm pretty sure we were using Chrome. But see, I would have thought that the real solution to being a sole front-end developer and not getting help is just get you to be a regular on a tech podcast.

[00:28:06] Ar: Oh, not going to lie. Definitely played a role. In all honesty, it has been tremendously helpful to have all of the resources I've gained just by the people that I've interacted with on the show, be it regular panelists like Tessa and Alex, or random guests who then follow me on Twitter, and then answer my questions when I put them out there. But I would say that if you're going to be the sole front-end developer, having a network of other developers is critical.

[00:28:39] T: Yeah. And kind of on a related related-ish note, because when you have other developers, you can kind of get a gauge for what's like “normal”, or like expected or what is unusual. And then in terms of the office side, that was something that I was like, “Well, I haven't really worked in an office before, I want to get an idea of what is normal. So, I read the manager's path and that was pretty helpful for setting a baseline for me.” So, in terms of day to day stuff, that's another resource.

[00:29:08] Ar: Yeah, I just live in a constant state of imposter syndrome, convinced that I'm not normal, and everyone else is better at everything than I am.

[00:29:15] T: Is this the day that we have the conversation about imposter syndrome versus imposter imposter syndrome, which is that people around you keep on telling you that you're not good enough, so you believe that you're not good enough? But actually, maybe that's not your problem, that's a them problem?

[00:29:28] Ar: I feel like that's a whole other topic that we should definitely explore.

[00:29:33] T: Yeah, because if you think about the types of people that usually have imposter syndrome…

[00:29:38] Al: I think that is called imposterception syndrome.

[00:29:42] T: Of course, you have to one up my name. By Alex Riviere.

[00:29:49] Al: Yeah. I will also say having a network is very smart. I will also lift up what everybody else has been, basically, already saying. But like local meetups, super helpful, just to like meet people. It's harder now that they're all online. But like finding that place where you can go and be like, “I have a stupid question.” People will be like, “It's probably not a stupid question.”

[00:30:17] T: But also, those are the best questions, let's be honest.

[00:30:23] Al: Yeah. And like just don't be afraid, find a place that you feel comfortable asking a dumb question, or what you feel like it's a dumb question, because that is the key, right? There are times where you don't necessarily need someone to explain something to you, you need them to give you the words to look it up and understand it. 

[00:30:47] T: When you don't know the words, look something up. That’s the worse.

[00:30:51] Ar: Yeah, when you don't know what you don't know.

[00:30:52] T: Or when you're trying to look up like angle bracket are something, that is not going to tell you.

[00:30:59] Al: Yeah. That is the challenge in every occupation. In my last career, like there was a big holdup on like, some of my learning because I was like, "I have a thing. It's a device. I don't know what it's called. I have this tool. I don't know what this tool is called." There were times were like, I'd have a broken connector, and I'd be like, “I can't order a new one. Because I literally don't know what this thing is called.” For theater, they actually have a book. And if you're listening to this and doing theater, and you don't know about this book, where have you been? The book is called the Theater Hand Guide, and somebody went through and basically, hand drew pictures of things and labeled them. So, you could like just read through it and be like, “Well, that's what that's called.” It's fantastic.

[00:31:51] T: Imagine if you did that and they were not proficient at drawing.

[00:31:57] Al: They're not. Sometimes it's really, like, there's a whole page full of like tape, right? And so, they have like gaff tape, packing tape, this type of tape, that type of tape, and then they have cassette tape…

[00:32:08] Ar: How do you adequately draw that?

[00:32:10] T: I would literally just tape it on the page and call it a day personally. And I've had years of art schooling.

[00:32:15] Al: Yeah. It's one of those where like, it's fascinating. They had a lot of weird jokes in there and stuff. But yeah, they have like different size, like different types of washers. So, you have like a round washer, a locking washer, friction washer, and like sizes and stuff like that. And then they had like, a washer, and it was like the washing machine.

[00:32:38] T: It was really nice having you on the show.

[00:32:41] Al: I will find my copy and I will show this to you.

[00:32:45] Ar: I'm sorry. Are you expecting us to be excited?

[00:32:46] Al: Yeah.

[00:32:47] Ar: Okay, I'll work on that.

[00:32:49] T: This is reminding me of when I was in the history religion class, and we were reading this book called Be Here Now, this sounds like the theater version of Be Here Now.

[00:32:58] Al: Okay. So, the programming equivalent of that is like, okay, you start working with something and you get back data in a weird structure. And you're like, “I need to navigate the structure.” And like, if you're trying to do that, and you don't have the words to understand what that structure is, you're not going to know like, “Oh, this is actually like a binary tree, and people who have already solved this problem.” Right?

[00:33:19] T: Wait. You get data back from your API in binary trees?

[00:33:24] Ar: Apparently, I have not been interacting with the right APIs.

[00:33:30] T: And then you just came out with binary tree.

[00:33:33] Al: I'm just saying it's a possibility, right? You can end up having a problem that you don't realize is necessarily a classic computer science problem that other people have written on extensively, because you don't have the words to know like, that's what this is.

[00:33:47] T: So, what I'm hearing is whiteboarding problems do work.

[00:33:51] Ar: Yeah. One time I ran into needing — I ran into needing a big int, and had I not once listened to a podcast where they talked about Netflix needing big int, I wouldn't have thought of it. 

[00:34:05] Al: Right. Exactly.

[00:34:06] T: Honestly, for me, that's been one of the biggest boons of meetups, but it also often made me feel like, maybe I'm not really learning anything, is I would go to tons of talks, like before I even had a job and I didn't understand anything that they were talking about. But I would retain enough memory of the topic to like later on, I'm running into something and I'm like, I feel like I want to talk about this thing, and then go look it up or be able to talk about it.

[00:34:34] Ar: Yeah, I'm a huge proponent of breadth-first knowledge. When you need the depth, you can go there. I think when you're the only front-end dev, inevitably you will end up with shallow knowledge of a lot of things. And occasionally, you have the opportunity to actually like deep dive a little more, but unfortunately, it's mostly just perpetual shallow knowledge.

[00:34:59] Al: Well, a lot of times you can find creative solutions to some things on CodePen, they may not always be the right answer to. If you need an example of a thing, you may be able to find examples of a thing on CodePen, but the person who wrote it may be in the same boat as you. And so, it's not always like, you can't always assume that, “Oh, somebody else has made this and this looks good. So, I guess it's fine.”

[00:35:23] Ar: It's usually pretty obvious though, that seems hacky. Because that's what I would do.

[00:35:29] T: So, the correct answer, you always want to go to the top reply in stack overflow. That is 110% time the correct answer that you need exactly, verbatim. Copy and paste it. Don't even change the variables.

[00:35:44] Ar: Disgusting, Tessa. How dare you?

[00:35:47] T: I was just hearing a story about somebody that use a library. Was that on the show? I feel like my brain is just not working today. Where like somebody copy and pasted the library, and they didn't change the variable names from the example code. So, it was like, let's say a car company, and they're using like a video game library. And so, it just has video game everywhere in the car app, because they just copied and pasted wholesale. Because that's the smart thing to do. Save your fingers for typing the important stuff like single letter variables.

[00:36:18] Ar: Does anyone have any final thoughts on being the sole front-end dev?

[00:36:24] T: Find a new job? No, I don't know. You're in a tough spot. You're going to learn a lot. It's for a certain type of person, I would say.

[00:36:33] Ar: Yes. I love my job. Mostly I love my team. Maybe I would love it less if there are other front-end devs.

[00:36:42] T: There can only be one, take them all down, Ari.

[00:36:48] Ar: Yeah, for me, the trade off at the end of the day is worth it. And with that, let's move on to picks. Who wants to go first? Oh, sorry, Alex won with the finger on the nose in time. So, Tessa, you’re up first.

[00:37:05] T: My pick is this guy Peet Montzingo. I think he's on TikTok and YouTube. I've only seen him on YouTube, and he does a lot of different kinds of videos. I guess he sings as well. But the videos that I've seen from him are mainly, he is the only non-dwarf, I think, in a dwarf family. So, he does a lot of videos of him and his mom doing things around the house, or showing like the kinds of affordances that he's made in her new house for her because she moved to be closer to him. And they're just really cute and fun videos where you see a mom and son that clearly have a lot of affection for each other doing things and being silly. That's my pick.

[00:37:48] Ar: Alex, you’re up next. 

[00:37:51] Al: I've had several comments today, and I've had somebody mention it before. I have on my webcam, a pair of googly eyes, so that when I stare at my webcam, it is not staring directly back at me. It's kind of looking at my chest actually, it's kind of awkward. But I'm able to have a conversation with my webcam, and at least be sort of staring at a face. My recommendation this week is go buy a bag of googly eyes and put them on everything because it makes everything better to have googly eyes on them, like across the board, googly eyes just make things better.

[00:38:35] Ar: Okay, noted. My pick for this week is a limited series on Netflix called Maid. It is essentially the story of a woman trying to leave an abusive relationship and all the the setbacks that she faces along the way. And yeah, just a compelling story of one person's journey into a better life.

With that, that is all for this week's episode. So, be sure to follow us on Twitter. If you're not, we are @EnjoyTheVueCast, or if you want to see our cats, you can also follow us @EnjoyTheVueCats. If you're not already subscribing to the show on whatever podcast app you're using, please do. It makes us happy. If you have time, and you like the show, leave a review. If you didn't like the show, please don't.

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