Talking about the front -end ceiling

 The height of the front ceiling has been a highly debated topic. On the Internet, there are even more factions fighting each other.

Those who support the high ceiling believe that the front-end technology stack is very broad, and each field can be studied for a long time. Such as new frames, scaffolding tools, 3D rendering, etc.

Those who support the low ceiling point out that: Judging from the distribution of high-level development of major manufacturers, whether it is P9 or P8, the proportion of the front end is very low.

And my point is: the front end is indeed a position with a very low ceiling


Of course, to discuss this issue, we must bring scope. Here I want to point out that when we talk about the "front-end" ceiling, what we are talking about is actually the ceiling of the "front-end engineer" position, which is the upper limit of development for this position.

There are high and low ceilings between different occupations, which is unavoidable. Just as we don't think that a security guard or a cleaner has a high professional ceiling. This is determined by the business value of the profession.

For the employer, as long as the cleaners keep the area clean, the employer doesn't care at all as to the method used. Even if he knows all kinds of cleaning tools like the back of his hand and works extremely diligently, this will not bring extra value to the employer. In other words, the professional ceiling of cleaners has been limited by the needs of employers.

                                TECHNICAL CEILING

In addition, as an engineer at the front end, while there is a professional ceiling, there is also a technical ceiling, and the technical ceiling is unlimited.We can simply divide the direction of the front end into several parts:

Rendering frameworks (Vue, React, Svelte, etc.)

Scaffolding/build tools (Webpack, Vite, Esbuild, etc.)

3D rendering (WebGL, WebGPU, etc.)

After the analysis, you will get a conclusion: no matter which direction it is, you can delve indefinitely.

Rendering framework - mining V8, hardware performance

Scaffolding/Build Tools - Beginning Rust's Involution

3D Rendering - Light up graphics skills

According to this line of thinking, if the ceiling of the front end is defined by the technically dignable depth, then it is infinite.

Define Front-end Ceiling

But don't forget, usually when we start discussing the ceiling, we are most likely to be confused about our career. What we really care about is how far our careers can go.

So back to the idea of [professional ceiling] above, let's take a look at where the business value of the front end is.

First of all, we need to be clear that there is only one goal of software products from beginning to end, which is product digitization.

Take library management as an example. In the era without computers, we need to use a notebook to record the information and quantity of various books. Once the book is borrowed or put into storage, we need to change the original corresponding number on the book. That's the business of library management.

When we digitize this business, we will create a book management platform that displays the information and quantity of each book. Users can directly search for titles on the platform to find books they are interested in. Once the borrowing is confirmed, just click the button, and the corresponding quantity on the platform will be modified.

To sum up this process, the front end actually only does two things: rendering and interaction. This rule can be applied to any software. This is the business requirement of the front-end, and at the same time determines the business value of the front-end.

No matter how the number of books and users in our system increases in the future, how rich the book information is, and how complicated the relationship between book labels is. For the front end, the business requirements are the same, and it is enough to do a good job of rendering and interaction. But different from the front-end, as the business becomes more and more complex, the business requirements of the back-end will become more and more difficult. Therefore, everyone tends to agree that the ceiling at the rear is higher than that at the front.

Front-End Direction Suggestions

Even though the ceiling for cleaners is low, we can still find some good paying cleaning jobs. Because there will always be people who have higher requirements for cleaning, and cleaners who can meet these needs become experts in the field of cleaning, specializing in dealing with some special advanced needs in society, such as luxury renovations, luxury car cleaning, etc.

In other words, for a job with a generally low ceiling, the best corresponding strategy is to "volume" crazily on business value and become a domain expert.

Back to the front end, we know that the business value of the front end lies in rendering and interaction. Therefore, some guesses about the direction of the front-end high-value areas can be roughly inferred.

  • 3D rendering

To break through the current front-end rendering bottleneck, the direction must be 3D. The user experience brought by 3D will be a qualitative improvement. To enter this field, we need to pay attention to the dynamics of WebGL and WebGPU. At present, WebGL is a widely used technology, but because its underlying layer is still OpenGL, the value it brings is limited. Therefore, I think WebGPU should be a technology worthy of more attention in the front end.

At the same time, the battle between Web and Native is not over yet. We cannot predict which faction will be the winner of Internet 3D technology in the future. Although the development army of the Web is huge and the cost of technology migration is lower, with the development of WebAssembly, the effect of Native on the Internet 3D is getting better and better, and the momentum is not worse than that of the Web. If you choose the 3D track, developers need to continue to pay attention to industry trends and master relevant technologies in advance.

  • Metaverse

No matter how many negative things happen, I still believe that the metaverse is the next era of the Internet. For the front end, the most obvious change brought about by the metaverse is the change in the way users interact. The change of interaction mode must rely on new hardware, which will bring great challenges to the current browser. In this context, the possibility of transferring the front end to the client (or "big front end") will be very high.

Therefore, what developers who choose this track should do is to pay attention to the hardware dynamics in the industry and improve the comprehensive capabilities of the "big front end".

  • low code

In addition to rendering and interaction, there is another direction that can bring value to the business, which is "cost reduction and efficiency increase". At present, low-code tools are born in response to this demand. Compared with the first two directions, low-code tools are more like traditional front-end projects. But don't forget, the demand background of this product is "cost reduction and efficiency increase", which means that the tool itself must have specific and powerful functions and compatibility. On the one hand, the enterprise hopes that this tool can meet as many needs as possible without causing too much burden on employees; on the other hand, the enterprise hopes to add tools without purchasing additional new hardware.

To sum up, as a low-code product, its bottleneck actually comes from product design. But from a technical point of view, the biggest challenge that low-code tools bring to the front-end should be compatibility and performance. It needs to be able to run on most of the hardware in the market, and it needs to ensure efficient performance while adding functions. This difficulty is no less than the other two tracks above.

The front-end development of low-code tools should pay attention to browser compatibility and understanding of various syntaxes of JS. At the same time, in order to efficiently solve these problems, developers should try to start with building tools. Second, performance improvements must rely on the ability to render the framework. Therefore, developers also need to have a deep grasp of various rendering frameworks in the industry. If necessary, they may even need to develop their own frameworks to break through performance requirements.

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