from any "quality" areas (in my mind).
I felt safe with programming backends and I was more than happy with
Rails. Rails is a framework that is really good at abstracting the
frontend problems. It gives you a set of view helpers, so that you can
do almost everything in Ruby.
designer required it) it was a painful experience to me. I just couldn't
find a good way of structuring the JS code. I didn't know how to test
it well (and yes, I knew Selenium, thank you).
Now I love working on frontends.
Why the change?
I realized that my mental model of a web applications, that I had in my
mind, was wrong. I'm guilty of not thinking it through harder in the
past. The Rails framework created an illusion for me that the frontend
is the View part of the MVC architecture. It's not and Rails is not MVC.
It's not only a Rails problem, I think that in most web frameworks we see a similar illusion.
The View part is another application
, that Rails happens to generate quite nicely.
The mental process of moving the View from the backend app to a separate
application is quite interesting and I hope to cover it another blog
post if anyone is interested [UPDATE: I blogged about this process
]. I see a similar pattern of transition among my fellow developers.
Once I realized that the JS is in fact another application it was like a
whole new world of programming opened to me. With the rise of
CoffeeScript it became even more cool. I'm able to use all the patterns
from my desktop apps experience (I've been working a lot with Java/Swing
apps and on an .NET Windows Forms app with IronPython).
A CoffeeScript (or JS) application can embrace the original vision of
MVC. There are new architectural patterns like DCI, which put use cases
in front of everything, that fit perfectly well into this kind of apps.
There are some concepts from AOP that come back (even Twitter uses them)
and are great for domain - gui separation.
Even more, the backend is now an optional part (a plugin) of my project,
it's possible to run the frontend application without a Rails backend.
We live in exciting times. The Single Page Applications are becoming
more and more popular. I'm no longer a backend-only programmer and I am
very happy with that!