Front-End Architect

At last year’s CSS Dev Conf, one of the more outstanding presentations I saw was Micah Godbolt’s “Raising a Banner for the Front-End Architect.” It was a powerful and motivational piece that aimed to bring recognition to the fact that front end development is development, and that as a discipline, front end development is every bit as nuanced and challenging as any other aspect of development. Even before the talk had ended, I changed my Twitter profile to include “Front-End Architect,” not as a job title, but more as a complete description of my role on our team at RP3 Agency.

Today, “Front-End Architect” officially became my job title. After recent and long-standing bouts of self-doubt (am I too old? am I too female? am I too front-end focused to be considered a “real” developer?), I see this redefinition of my position as something of a validation that front-end architecture is as vital to the process of bringing a website to life as the application or system architecture.

Development is not limited to Java, or PHP, or Node.js. Despite the options in a Stack Overflow survey, specializing in Sass and CSS is just as crucial to the development of a successful website as any other part of it. Even if what you code can only be executed in a browser and not on a linux server, without it websites would be nothing, would look like nothing, and the whole web would still look like this.

I’m also, by terms of skillsets, a full-stack developer. I not only code in Sass and front-end JavaScript, but in PHP building WordPress themes and plugins. But throughout my career, my heart has been in the code that has made it to the browser—HTML, CSS, and JavaScript—and while I’m stronger in some sides of that triangle than I am in the other, it’s still a complete, complex, and challenging discipline that has languished in its own imposter syndrome for far too long.

General Assembly

Recently, I got some intriguing direct messages from Nick, a friend of mine from the D.C. Sass meetup. He told me that one of General Assembly’s WordPress instructors hadn’t worked out, and wanted to know if I’d be interested in teaching a class about once a month or so. It sounded intriguing, so I followed up with GA.

What quickly unfolded was a tremendous opportunity. Starting in April, I’ll be teaching WordPress for developers classes and bootcamps. The first will be a two-hour evening class on April 23, and will focus on creating child themes for WordPress. I think this would be a good introduction for front-end developers to get a taste of the WordPress development world.

Then in June, I’ll follow this up with a two-day weekend bootcamp on building custom WordPress themes and plugins using all the development best practices we’ve established at RP3 Agency. This will be an intensive dive into the WordPress world, and we’ll get into topics like using a starter theme (_s, of course), building with Vagrant, Sass, Gulp.js, etc.

The plan for now is to teach each of these courses (the evening course and the bootcamp) about once a quarter, #ParentingLife permitting. Of course, there’s a drawback in all of this. In preparing for these upcoming courses, I’ll likely have to take a break on speaking at WordCamps for the time being. There’s just not the time to prepare for a new WordCamp talk, while simultaneously preparing for these classes and managing my other projects and commitments.

RP3 Agency has been a long-time partner with General Assembly, and while this opportunity didn’t come directly from that relationship, I still see it as a great next step to work together to help produce more great developers in the Washington, D.C. community. I’m excited to be a part of this.

Washington Area Women’s Foundation

I’m super-excited to share the latest launch by RP3 Agency: The Washington Area Women’s Foundation website.

This website launch is the culmination of nearly a year of close collaboration with the client, extensively reimagining their outdated website and delivering a clean, modern and responsive new site.

Additionally, the new site is built on WordPress, leveraging the platform’s strengths as a full-featured content management system. My goal as the technical lead of the project was to deliver a site that not only was more pleasing and easy to use for visitors, but easier and more intuitive to manage for our clients.

In coming days and weeks I’ll be sharing more about the structure of the site: how we created a flexible content entry system yet maintained simplicity in the entry fields; our use of technologies such as Backbone.js to improve site performance, and how we architected the front end with Sass, Breakpoint and Susy grids.

My sincerest thanks to everyone on the team who made this site possible:

  • Jared Arrington
  • Suriporn Bridge
  • Bryan Cox
  • Mark Lovett
  • Kat Piscatelli
  • Allison Rinaldi
  • Kurt Roberts
  • Julie Smith
  • Deanna Steers
  • Lauren Turner

Way to go, team!

Picturefill.js + WordPress

Matt Marquis, chair of the Responsive Images Community Group, asked on Twitter:

Anyone know whether picture/Picturefill support is officially in the works for WordPress? Could swear I saw something about that once.

There’s no official, native support for the <picture> element (or its polyfill) in WordPress, and the Picturefill.js script is not included in the WordPress distribution (like jQuery is), but you can use both the <picture> element along with Picturefill.js in your WordPress theme today, if you’re not afraid of a little custom theming. We’ll follow the instructions for using Picturefill.js by Scott Jehl for our actual <picture> element markup.

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