On 15 September, Lunatech hosted a Fronteers event for the first time. Fronteers is an industry association for front-end developers in the Netherlands and Belgium, which makes this event pretty strange considering that pretty much everyone at Lunatech writes Java code, while probably none of the 400 Fronteers members do.
The evening included beer, networking and two presentations. Egor Kloos a.k.a. dutchcelt, senior front-end developer and user-experience expert at Lunatech, explained issues in enterprise front-end development. Jeroen Wijering, developer of the widely-used JW Player video player, presented HTML5 video.
What is front-end development? Inside the Guardian blog helpfully explains:
In our visually and tecnhologically sophisticated society, access to information and knowledge seems easier than making sense of it or decide its veracity - on the web, pages and appplications are built by front-end developers to present and put data or relationships in context.
Front-end or client-side development is a relatively obscure Internet discipline. Historically, this role has been known under several aliases, htmler, web designer, coder, frontender and so on, but its core functions remain the same while expanding with the progress of the Internet. It is a hinge role that requires both aesthetic sensitivity and programmatic rigor.
Enterprise application development convergence
In the past, this aspect of the World-Wide Web has remained separate from the enterprise software development projects taking place inside the firewall - Lunatech’s core business. Today, the gradual shift of the last ten years has resulted in a new convergence: businesses now use consumer-style web-based software such as Google Apps that runs outside the firewall, and IT managers are increasingly demanding business applications with a user-experience as rich as provided by the social networking software their children use at home.
In practical terms, this means that the discipline of front-end development, with its more sophisticated visual and user-interaction design, has arrived in the enterprise software development world. This collaboration means better bespoke business software: application developers are not limited to ugly user-interfaces with poor usability, and front-end developers no longer just build product marketing web sites.
Now things get interesting.