re: Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Web Development VIEW POST

FULL DISCUSSION
 

I like your article and the points you made except the first one that web development has nothing to do with Math. That I disagree. Problem solving skill comes from math. Everything that has to do with Math, has to do with solving problems one way or another. Art is more off being creative and that's completely different from problem solving.

I am now a Full Stack developer who started from traditional art (drawing and painting) to digital design, 3D modeling and animation to VFX (special effect) before learning web development and I can tell you that I appreciate all the math I did before learning web development. My art background only help me to analyze and visualize projects from a creative stand point but my math background greatly contribute to how I solve many of my programming challenges my friend.

 

While some problems are solved mathematically, not all are. And when you read an article like this one written by an engineer with background in robotics and machine learning, realize that the math she is talking about is above simple high school algebra. Very few web developers need high-level calculus, statistics, numberical analysis to build portals. This, in fact, is the fundamental reason why coding boot camps can kick out web developers in droves with not so much as a math refresher.

 

I guess it depends what people mean by math exactly.

Boolean logic is math too. So you could say that, whenever we write an if statement, it's technically math 😁

 

Definitely, agree there.

The "math" that you would apply to the average website/web application, is often limited to some dimension/scaling computation. A sorting algorithm perhaps, or something with applying interests/taxes to a certain financial amount.

There are of course exceptions to the rule, but those are not the standard projects for web developers.

Does that mean that web development is easier? I believe it's not. It's different. Not every engineer is suited for both fields. I expect from a senior web developer to have a certain "feeling" about what he is building.

This feeling; you have or you don't. An algorithm can be tested by a unit test. The decision if the button should be aligned left or right, can not. In the perfect world, we have UX designers for that. But in the real world, they are not always on the team.

So a senior web developer should have a certain feeling for common sense. Also there, I'm sure that not everyone agrees. But that's how I run my team. I don't spec every integration. I don't convert every mockup to a final UI design. The mockup is what you use, and convert to match our standards and used frameworks.

I had a comment once on a retrospective; the point for improvement was that new functionality should be specced better. Because there were multiple development cycles required before we reached a final thing that worked in a nice way.

The point being; that development cycle was planned that way. But the developer wasn't comfortable with that. We often need something, of which we are not entirely sure how it should work. So we start with a prototype, we stabilize the code, get some users to try it, collect feedback, improve usability, collect feedback, ...., finalize.

Sometimes the feedback part is internally between developers, sometimes clients/users are involved. Sometimes this cycle spawns a few product versions, sometimes it's a faster iteration.

The alternative is to spec everything. That's more clear for the developer. And it might even be a bit faster in total time spent if there is a good idea of the product you want. But chances are big that you don't get what you wanted. That it works suboptimally. Just because something works in your mind or on paper. Doesn't mean it will work in the real world.

 

It is true that you learn a lot of problem solving and logic when you do math. I'm glad you have been able to use those skills you have learned from math. But my point was more like what Shawn has said.

It's great to have a math background, although it's rare a developer would have to do advanced math like calculus or Bayesian statistics.

Plus there are a lot of other ways to learn problem solving and logic. ☺

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