The Difficulty Level of Becoming a Web Developer is Growing

I know it’ll be odd coming from someone who yesterday made a commitment to daily blogging, but I’ve been overwhelmed with tech for a while now.

Part of it is the endless news cycle, both about and enabled by technology. Part of it is the way that it can feel like an entire day is spent online, and not a single thing of value has been produced, and not a single person helped by my presence. But the biggest part is that diving into new web development has become a greater challenge than in the past, and we are dangerously close to cutting off the hobbyists, tinkerers, and dreamers who built the web up to what it is today.

I’ve been spending time playing around with and building things for Gutenberg, the new content editor coming to WordPress. I’m doing this to stay up to date on tools for the WordPress Orlando Meetup and other events, like the Winter Park Blogging Meetup that I’m presenting at this afternoon. I’ve also been doing it because I know that new tooling means new opportunities when it comes to delivering products to market.

My first dive into Gutenberg was the theme that my site now runs on, and which I’ll document a bit later this week. I worked on that while taking Zac Gordon’s Gutenberg courses, which give a good overview of how it currently works as a plugin and the way to start building your own blocks. Some of the first ones were easy, but getting into more complex blocks require more effort.

It’s the glut of technologies that make this exhausting. While Javascript has been something that we’ve been exhorted to “learn deeply” for the past few years, that isn’t necessarily enough direction. Javascript itself isn’t enough, as there is a lot of tooling that goes into modern frontend development.

I began learning about JS management with a presentation on Grunt. By the time I got to that there was a debate on if it should be replaced by Gulp, and by the time I got serious about using any in my workflow, Webpack became both the new hotness, and the standard that many Gutenberg contributors have been using.

But it’s not so simple as learning Webpack alone. Have you started with Node? NPM? ESNext? What about React itself, which is tied with Vue.JS as the popular frontend dev library to make Gutenberg blocks.

The point is that if you want to get started, there are plenty of resources and paths that you can take, so many that the hard part now is determining what to use and how to best apply it to what you want to learn and make. I’m in that process myself right now, and it is mentally draining.

There need to be alternatives that allow someone brand new to web development to come in, start writing code for free, and share them with the world while learning and growing. Thankfully there are organizations like Glitch which are trying to do exactly this, and I intend on highlighting them and others in the future.

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