简明现代魔法 -> 互联网时代 -> Nicholas C. Zakas 谈怎样才能成为优秀的前端工程师

Nicholas C. Zakas 谈怎样才能成为优秀的前端工程师

2010-02-05

I was doing an interview yesterday here at Yahoo! and we had come to the point where you typically allow the candidate to ask some questions. I have to say that most of the time I’m pretty disappointed with the questions I get. I like to hear questions that indicate a certain sense of passion about working for Yahoo!. Yesterday’s candidate I think asked me the best question I’ve heard yet: “What would you say makes a good front end engineer?” That’s a question that I think deserves some discussion outside of the confines of that interview room.

昨天,我负责了Yahoo!公司组织的一次面试活动,感触颇深的是其中的应聘者提问环节。我得说自己对应聘者们提出的大多数问题都相当失望。我希望听到一些对在Yahoo!工作充满激情的问题。在昨天的应聘者中,只有一个人的问题是我认为最好的,那个人问我:“你觉得怎么才能成为优秀的前端工程师?”我觉得很有必要把这个问题从面试房间里拿出来讨论一下。

To begin, front end engineers need to know HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. You can’t be good in just one or two of these, you really need to know all three. That doesn’t mean that you need to be an expert in all of them, but it does mean you need to be able to complete most tasks using these languages without stopping to ask someone for help.

首先,前端工程师必须得掌握HTML、CSS和JavaScript。只懂其中一个或两个还不行,你必须对这三门语言都很熟悉。也不是说必须对这三门语言都非常精通,但你至少要能够运用它们完成大多数任务,而无需地频繁地寻求别人的帮助。

A good front end engineer needs to be able to pick things up quickly. The technologies powering the Web aren’t standing still, people. I’d go so far as to say things are changing on almost a daily basis and it’s up to you to keep up with these changes. There are always new techniques and paradigms to consider and digest as part of your discipline; you cannot just rest on what you know today. The Web of tomorrow will be drastically different from the Web of today and it’s your job to understand what that difference means to your web application.

优秀的前端工程师应该具备快速学习能力。推动Web发展的技术并不是静止不动的,没错吧?我甚至可以说这些技术几乎每天都在变化,如果没有快速学习能力,你就跟不上Web发展的步伐。你必须不断提升自己,不断学习新技术、新模式;仅仅依靠今天的知识无法适应未来。Web的明天与今天必将有天壤之别,而你的工作就是要搞清楚如何通过自己的Web应用程序来体现这种翻天覆地的变化。

There are many parts of computer science that are exactly as described: science. The front end is not a science, it’s an art. An artist knows not just the tools of the trade but also when to use them. The solution to a problem in one situation may not work in another. On the front end of web applications, there’s often many solutions to the same problem. None of them are wrong, but some are more appropriate than others. A good front end engineer knows when to use a particular solution and when to consider other alternatives.

计算机科学这个大门类下面的许多分支在人们眼中实际上都不外乎科学。但是,我们所说的前端不是什么科学,而是艺术。艺术家不仅要掌握谋生的技术,还要懂得如何运用。对同一个问题的解决方案在这种情况适用,在另一种情况下可能就不适用。对Web应用程序的前端而言,解决同一问题的方案经常会有很多。没有哪个方案是错的,但其中确实有一些是更合适的。优秀的前端工程师应该知道在什么情况下使用哪种方案更合适,而在什么情况下应该重新选择。

A good front end engineer needs to be able to communicate effectively due to the parties involved with the job. At any given time, a front end engineer answers to at least four customers:

优秀的前端工程师需要具备良好的沟通能力,因为你的工作与很多人的工作息息相关。在任何情况下,前端工程师至少都要满足下列四类客户的需求。

  1. Product Managers - these are the folks responsible for the direction of the application. They have a vision of what the application should offer to users and (hopefully) how to make money off of that model. Oftentimes, they will be pushing for more features.
  2. User Interface Designers - these are the people responsible for the visual design and interaction model of the application. Their concern is what will make sense to the user, consistency of interaction, and overall usability. They are most of asking for slicker user interfaces that can be challenging to create.
  3. Engineering Management - the group that actually builds and maintains the application. In engineering, the primary concerns are uptime (keeping the application available), performance, and deadlines. The push from engineering is usually to try to keep things as simple as possible and not introduce failure points while making changes.
  4. End Users - the primary consumer of the application. Though there’s often not direct interaction with end users, their feedback is crucial; an application is worthless without people who want to use it. End users typically ask for things that would help them personally as well as things that are available from competitors.
  1. 产品经理——这些是负责策划应用程序的一群人。他们能够想象出怎样通过应用程序来满足用户需求,以及怎样通过他们设计的模式赚到钱(但愿如此)。一般来说,这些人追求的是丰富的功能。
  2. UI设计师——这些人负责应用程序的视觉设计和交互模拟。他们关心的是用户对什么敏感、交互的一贯性以及整体的好用性。他们热衷于流畅靓丽但并不容易实现的用户界面。
  3. 项目经理——这些人负责实际地运行和维护应用程序。项目管理的主要关注点,无外乎正常运行时间(uptime)——应用程序始终正常可用的时间、性能和截止日期。项目经理追求的目标往往是尽量保持事情的简单化,以及不在升级更新时引入新问题。
  4. 最终用户——当然是应用程序的主要消费者。尽管我们不会经常与最终用户打交道,但他们的反馈意见至关重要;没人想用的应用程序毫无价值。最终用户要求最多的就是对个人有用的功能,以及竞争性产品所具备的功能。

So who do front end engineers care the most about? The answer is all four. A good front end engineer needs to know how to balance the wants and desires of all four groups in order to come up with an optimal solution. Communication is important because front end engineers are at the vertex of communication from these four groups. This may mean that a cool new feature needs to be scaled down because it will affect front end performance or it could mean pushing back on a design would negatively impact the accessibility of the application. As a front end engineer, you need to understand where each group is coming from and be able to suggest solutions that are acceptable by all parties. A good front end engineer is an ambassador, of sorts, and needs to have that mentality on a day-to-day basis.

那么,前端工程师应该最关注哪些人的意见呢?答案是所有这四类人。优秀的前端工程师必须知道如何平衡这四类人的需求和预期,然后在此基础上拿出最佳解决方案。由于前端工程师处于与这四类人沟通的交汇点上,因此其沟通能力的重要性不言而喻。如果一个非常酷的新功能因为会影响前端性能,必须删繁就简,你怎么跟产品经理解释?再比如,假设某个设计如果不改回原方案可能会给应用程序造成负面影响,你怎么才能说服UI设计师?作为前端工程师,你必须了解每一类人的想法从何而来,必须能拿出所有各方都能接受的解决方案。从某种意义上说,优秀的前端工程师就像是一位大使,需要时刻抱着外交官的心态来应对每一天的工作。

One of the most important things I tell new front end engineers is not to simply agree to do tasks without first reviewing them. You must always understand what is being asked of you, not just in the form of a bug saying “this isn’t working right,” but also understanding what the intention of the functionality or design really is. A task to “add a button” doesn’t always mean you end up adding a button. It may mean you go back to the product manager and ask what the button is for, and then maybe go to the user interface designer to determine if a button really is the right interaction approach. It’s this communication that is vital to being a good front end engineer.

我告诫新来的前端工程师最多的一句话,就是不要在没有作出评估之前就随便接受某项任务。你必须始终记住,一定先搞清楚别人到底想让你干什么,不能简单地接受“这个功能有问题”之类的大概其的说法。而且,你还要确切地知道这个功能或设计的真正意图何在。“加一个按钮”之类的任务并不总意味着你最后会加一个按钮。还可能意味着你会找产品经理,问一问这个按钮有什么用处,然后再找UI设计师一块探讨按钮是不是最佳的交互手段。要成为优秀的前端工程师,这种沟通至关重要。

In many ways, I think being a front end engineer is one of the most complicated jobs in computer science. Most traditional programming concepts don’t apply and there’s a lot of soft science being applied to numerous technologies for usage on numerous platforms. The technical expertise necessary to be a good front end engineer is a vast and complicated terrain made more complex due to the parties you’re ultimately responsible to serve. Technical expertise may get you in the door as a front end engineer, but it’s your application of that expertise and your ability to work with others that makes you good.

无论从哪个方面讲,我都觉得前端工程师是计算机科学职业领域中最复杂的一个工种。绝大多数传统的编程思想已经不适用了,为了在多种平台中使用,多种技术都借鉴了大量软科学的知识和理念。成为优秀前端工程师所要具备的专业技术,涉及到广阔而复杂的领域,这些领域又会因为你最终必须服务的各方的介入而变得更加复杂。专业技术可能会引领你进入成为前端工程师的大门,但只有运用该技术创造的应用程序以及你跟他人并肩协同的能力,才会真正让你变得优秀。

Disclaimer: Any viewpoints and opinions expressed in this article are those of Nicholas C. Zakas and do not, in any way, reflect those of Yahoo!, Wrox Publishing, O'Reilly Publishing, or anyone else. I speak only for myself, not for them.

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