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Randy Schmidt

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Full Stack Web Developers

June 03, 2008

Full stack of pancakes. Over the past few months, I have really started to admire what I call “Full Stack Web Developers”. A full stack web developer is someone that does design, markup, styling, behavior, and programming. Some examples of these types of developers are Jason Tremblay, Geoffrey Grosenbach & Tom Preston-Werner.

Jason Tremblay is a Philadelphia local who I met a little over a year ago. Recently, we started working together on a little project called iSepta where he did all of the user interface design. I was blown away with what he was able to produce as well as the development feedback he gave. I literally could not stop grinning from ear to ear.

Geoffrey Grosenbach is fairly well known in the Ruby on Rails world for the screencast and ebook company he put together called Peepcode. He has done everything for that site from design to development as well as all of the editing and voiceovers. Everything he does looks spectacular but he also has the deep technical knowledge to make most of the screencasts and ebooks.

Tom Preston-Werner has become widely known for such projects as Gravatar where he did all design and development and Github where he did some development but all of the design. He’s also known for a project called Fuzed which is a Rails server stack written in Erlang. Yes, Erlang.

About 4-5 years ago, I was in college going for a degree in structural engineering when I decided I had too many ideas not to learn web development. I finished out my structural engineering degree and worked in that field for 2 years before finally going out on my own in July 2007. What that means is while I was learning how to make sure a 60 story condo building was able to withstand an earthquake, I also was trying to learn ruby, rails, html, css, and javascript. That was tough, but I made it through and I think I can finally call myself a developer.

So, where am I going with this? I think I have finally decided that my next professional goal is to learn the last thing to becoming a full stack web developer, design. I am already proficient at everything from the back-end development to javascript, but I have always thrown my hands up in the air when it came to design. I’m not going to do that anymore. I’m going to tackle this like I tackled learning web development over the past few years.

If anybody has any suggestions about how I can go about achieving my new goal, please feel free to speak up! I have a feeling this is going to be quite a bit more difficult than web development since design is so subjective.

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