(Selfish) What’s Next for Web Development?

Posted: April 08, 2019 Comments(3)

I’ve been thinking a lot about the future in a lot of ways and I’m stuck in a bit of a loop when it comes to what I’d like to do in the next five years development-wise. I’m talking specifics, kind of focusing on the stuff that doesn’t really matter: my tech stack.

We always say that the underlying tech doesn’t matter, and it doesn’t when it comes to realizing ideas, but it does when it comes to being excited about the work you’re doing.

It’s hard to label what I’ve spent the past decade doing because it’s such a mix; client side, server side, database stuff, pretty much everything to make a website work. I like that it’s a mixed bag and feel it’s good to be well rounded. But it also keeps me from having strong opinions, opinions I’d like to have (I think?)


I’ve attempted to keep my work broad but at the same time have applied that knowledge to the WordPress ecosystem in the majority of my projects. WordPress has been the basis for my learning for a long time and I owe it quite a bit for that.

But WordPress is changing. A lot.

In my development travels I’ve kept up with frameworks like Laravel but also branched out into JavaScript quite a bit (Vue is so good) and can’t help but have what I have in my head cause me to question whether it’s time to shore up not only what I do know but my desire to know more about how things are done outside my bubble.

What’s your position?

I wrote this post with the prefix of (Selfish) because I selfishly want to know about the crowd’s perception of modern web development.

  • PHP is great. I know PHP and it’s maturing every day.
  • JavaScript is very intriguing. It too has matured and is maturing rapidly, and language utilization both server side and client side seems like a really neat place to be.
  • Exploration is a huge factor in my love of development, and JavaScript presents many opportunities for learning by doing (my favorite way to learn).
  • The JavaScript world is bustling with innovation and it’s mostly all over my head. That discomfort can many times be a good place to be.

I’m not so much questioning what server-side language would be great to get into, but more along the lines of: is JavaScript going to be the green field choice for web developers from here on out?

Thinking 30 years down the line are we going to have this segmentation in language or is the coalescence of JavaScript going to be even more industry (and world changing) as time goes on?

Lately I’m just thinking about change a lot, about the future a lot, and I’m wondering what you’ve got to say about it.

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  1. I was a web dev before Javascript. I remember the first time I saw a status bar crawler and I thought it was SO COOL. Then I realized how not cool it was. Just like pop-up window ads and flashing color web sites. Javascript was a stupid, worthless, hurtful thing for the web, so I didn’t learn it.

    Then XMLHttpRequest appeared and I immediately saw how it would change the world forever. But I didn’t know javascript, and it was complicated. I had friends who knew it, so I leaned on them, wrote my php and css, and I didn’t learn it.

    Then suddenly it became a desktop tool. grunt, gulp, composer, node, npm; the list goes on. Suddenly it wasn’t good enough to just write css. It had to be scss, or sass, and be compiled. With javascript. Tutorials rarely helped. Any framework I set up broke within days, and I didn’t know how to fix. So I went to straight php, and didn’t learn Javascript.

    Now my beloved WordPress is becoming less and less php. It’s not good enough anymore to know just php. It’s all about React and Gutenberg etc. I still haven’t learned Javascript.

    Now I’m in sales and marketing. And I love it, I really do. But I struggle to call myself a web developer. I’ve known HTML for 25 years. I’ve known PHP for 20. CSS for 18. But no-one writes that anymore. People use tools to generate that stuff. Those tools are things like Laravel, React, and vanilla javascript.

    I’ve been on this road a long time, and my advice is to follow the javascript. Frameworks if you wish, but javascript at the core. Always know and css, because the browsers will always read it, but gone are the days when people simply write it.

  2. I was in a similar boat until recently. The bulk of my experience was with WordPress, html, css and presentational javascript. But it seemed like all the interesting frontend development positions outside the WordPress space required deep javascript knowledge, usually with specific frameworks (looking at you React!).

    However, I was fortunate to be able to join a company that needed WooCommerce expertise, and then happened to have a variety of other projects to work on. Laravel, Node, React. It’s been nice. I feel like I’ve advanced more as a developer this last year than in the previous three combined.

    But it’s a weird feeling, right? You have a deep skillset in one technology that has plenty of work and clients- but you want to do something that’s challenging and different. I think it’s a curse most developers have.

    I say lean into it. Javascript is eating the development world. It also never hurts to learn something new.

  3. I”ve been a web dev since before PHP existed, so I started doing JS in the bad old days. I currently do mostly back-end in PHP, Rails and Node/Express.

    Nothing is going to look enough the same in 30 years to matter, but JS is going to be a good bet for at least the next 5 or 10, so dive in. The community is vibrant if a little overwhelming at times. I agree with Topher that there will continue to be JS framework churn but having a solid grasp of the language makes learning new frameworks pretty easy.

    Also, all the skills you have now will carry over. The more things change, the more they stay the same. It doesn’t matter what language you are using when you are tracking down a crazy redirect loop or insane XML payload 🙂

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