Old Dogs, New Tricks, and Cognitive Bias

For 15 or more years I have told myself that I can't do frontend web work. I remember seeing a presentation from a co-worker on CSS in 2003 or so, and thinking it was just too complicated. I've always been the guy behind the scenes building the services that power the web, but never the one spending any time making them less ugly.

I know basic HTML -- from the roughly the HTML 4.01 era. My excuse has always been that this is enough to create the sort of user interfaces I've been required to create. Simple admin screens, simple tabular reports, those sorts of things. I was able to avoid learning any more complex frontend skills over the years by simply shrugging and saying "I don't know frontend".

I've recently started working on Congo again, in an effort to simplify the piles of spreadsheets, notes, emails, and TODO lists that pile up on conference organizers. Congo will provide an API for clients to consume, and will require a web interface for management. It's time to finally buckle down and learn some basic frontend development skills.

I'm not trying to minimize my abilities, or pretend that I have no capabilities. I've made modifications to existing React and Angular applications before. I've changed and tweaked a few CSS styles to get a desired effect. But it's not a place that I'm comfortable, and not a place I can start from scratch. I need someone else to set it up and do the hardwork so I can make the small changes. So you can think of me as a Junior Frontend Developer, but without the hoodie and expensive coffee.

I know that there is nothing preventing me from being a capable frontend developer other than my own bias and laziness. So today I'm making the commitment to learn more. I'll be writing about it here, so follow along and enjoy the laughs. If you have tips and tricks - send them to me on twitter or follow me there for regular updates.