1. 11
  1. 14

    Recently in not believing in full-stack developers, I didn’t exist.

    1. 11

      One culture note I find really interesting: I remember 3-4 years ago a lot of people were griping about how “full stack” wasn’t real. Almost all of them argued that backend was so complicated you needed a specialist to do it well.

      Now we’re seeing the exact same articles but now it’s the frontend that’s too complicated.

      When it comes to specialisation, generalists underestimate the benefits but specialists overestimate the necessity.

      1. 5

        I think it’s related to how complicated front end has become.

        I think the problem is that most people who call themselves “full stack” are, like most of us, quite highly experienced in one area, and have enough working knowledge to get by in the other areas.

        Every “full stack vs not” discargument I’ve seen has boiled down to “full stack” people claiming that more specialised people are “single skill”.

        I’ve never met or worked with anyone that did just one thing. In most teams/orgs I’d expect people to have some experience across most of the tech stack - but that doesn’t make them “full stack” any more than it makes me a mechanic because I can change a tire or replace a car battery, or a builder because I can put up a shelf.

        That doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for people who are (or seemingly claim themselves to be, ala “full stack”) more evenly experienced over the stack than those who specialise, but in my experience these people tend to be the ones who just brush off anything that’s beyond them as “we don’t need to worry about it”.

        1. 1

          I acknowledge that you used “most” and “tend” to allow exceptions, but your argument still rubs me the wrong way.

          I am one of those people who has described himself as a full-stack web developer. I feel comfortable doing this because I have designed and implemented back-ends and front-ends of services that scaled to hundreds of thousands of users. Obviously there exist much larger scales, but I think ~million users will cover the needs of most web services out there and in some countries, like Slovenia where I live, it will cover all of them. It does not seem unreasonable to me to have a term for noting that you can build any part of it if necessary.

          I do not claim to know everything I need to know at all times, but I do know enough about everything relevant that I can tell where the gaps are and fill them in a reasonable time. I find this perfectly reasonable in the same way as needing to learn a new language for a project does not disqualify a developer from still being a developer.

          I am not alone and have colleagues who can do the same or better. None of us argue that we are all anyone needs and even on smaller projects it is generally better if people focus on fewer things. Most of my work lately is on front-end and I certainly am not stupid enough to not notice that specialists can do many things better than me. If your project can benefit from that and can afford hiring such person, it would be stupid not to.

          As you say yourself, full-stack is really just a description for a different distribution of skills and experience over the stack and you can be a competent developer over huge part of it if you pay attention to what and why you are learning something and avoid switching tools and frameworks for the currently fashionable one every half a year.

          I don’t doubt most full-stack developers are bad at their job in the same way as most of any group of developers are (X specialists, Python developers…). Likewise no group of practitioners of noticeable size lacks individuals disparaging other groups.

          1. 1

            I did specifically qualify it as anecdotal:

            in my experience these people tend to be

            The rest of your comment just seems to reaffirm what I said though - fullstack is generally just a broader, shallower set of experience rather than narrow, deeper with someone more specialised.

      2. 7

        If that is your definition of “full-stack engineer”, then I absolutely count myself as one. I thought the joke around that title was that “full-stack” is far more than just the web services and UI of a typical web app.

        I wonder also if I’m the only one who finds it weird when someone quotes themselves.

        1. 6

          Everybody I work with is a “full stack engineer” in the sense meant by this. And that applies to just about every team I’ve been on since I started working.

          1. 4

            I’m going to propose an alternative argument: that the debate over full-stack vs. front-end/back-end demonstrates that our ability to develop user interfaces is broken.

            I want to be specific here, because I’m not talking about developing user experiences. Taking an abstract set of requirements and turning it into an implementable series of interactives is absolutely a unique and complex skill. The same is true of design.

            But this front-end/back-end dichotomy strikes me as… okay, as someone who’s done plenty of both, front-end is needlesly complicated because our front-end targets are absolute garbage. The browser offers an absolutely awful target for applications, and your basic front-end “hello world” these days takes 15 pages of boiler plate and 1,024 dedicated frameworks.

            Front-end development shouldn’t be complicated. Our tools make it complicated, but that’s because we have bad tools

            1. 1

              The author of the article quotes a tweet from, er, himself at one point which I think supports your view more effectively than it supports the argument he makes in the article:

              If we spent as much time thinking about users as we do about the titles we give front-end developers then the web would be a much better place.

              I think this is a good way of looking at it.

            2. 3

              Design is a separate skill from development; since when was a full-stack “engineer” expected to be a good UI designer?

              1. 2

                It depends on the size of what you do… Sure full stack at Netflix sounds impossible… And everyone is a specialist in the service he manages.. but probably some are full stack at the level of their service…

                1. 2

                  basically the entirety of this post is not “i don’t believe in full-stack”, it’s “i don’t know what the definition of full-stack is, and assume it includes design in addition to development, not just the ability to move between frontend languages and backend languages to build an application”.

                  1. 1

                    Paul Evans (‎LeoNerd‎) - ‎Full Stack in Five Minutes‎: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24cCjo6_sXc&t=4904s

                    1. 1

                      Unfortunately, the term full-stack is one of those terms where everyone reads into it what they want it to mean. I’ve worked with some back-end developers who were good (not great) at front-end. By most people’s usage, they are “full-stack,” but not by the usage of this article, which seems to require great skill in all areas of the stack.

                      I for one, will happily admit that I’m not “full-stack” because while I can work on back-end systems, I am multiple times more effective when working on the front-end.