First of all, I’m not saying back-end developers are real men or are the only ones who have “Curiosity”! But I’ve begun to realise more and more that XPages developers are either back-end or front-end, features or look & feel.

In the old days of Notes Client development, the two were so tightly coupled that there was no separation. Maybe that’s one of the reasons Notes got a bad reputation. But it was not particularly easy to know which camp you were in.

But over the last couple of years, I’ve realised I’m most definitely back-end. Dr Marky Roden is front-end. Nathan Freeman is back-end. Bruce Elgort is front-end. I’d say Mark Leusink is front-end. Mike McGarel, my co-presenter again this week, confirmed my suspicion he is front-end.

XPages has shown that because it’s a wide canvas and you find yourself specialising in a particular area. For me, it’s Java, with the OpenNTF Domino API. I took great delight last year at IBM Connect in showing a plugin that allowed integration with Sametime. What fired my imagination with the XPages OpenLog Logger project was when I learned how I could pick settings from xsp.properties. I’m definitely back-end. But OneUI and, now, the Bootstrap4XPages project on OpenNTF mean even someone who lives for functionality can easily create an app with great look and feel.

But for those who enjoy the front-end stuff, it’s easier than ever to integrate other frameworks in XPages apps and keep them current. Whether it’s using OneUI to stay consistent with other products like Connections and Sametime (if we can still call it that), ExtJS as shown by Marky Roden, Twitter Bootstrap or anything else. And the Bootstrap4XPages project also removes the nightmares of rewriting lots of stuff when moving up to Bootstrap 3.

But the future isn’t and never has been just within Notes back-ends or using LEI/DECS/JDBC to pull from relational datasources. Just as a business needs to work with social – or you can call it Enterprise Collaboration if your phobic about the word “social”, it’s the same thing and all about making it easier to work together inside and outside the silos that appear within businesses. So the SBT provides a number of tools – and now also templates for integrating with Connections or anything else you can integrate with via OAuth. But that too is about choice. Front-end developers can use JavaScript. Back-end developers can use Java. Mobile developers can use iOS APIs. WordPress developers can use PHP APIs. And I heard someone offering Perl code as another integration language too. So, thanks to IBM, there is no excuse for not using SBT. We’re not all the same, but the language people choose will be interesting.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you have to choose. I’m saying that most people will find themselves falling into one camp or the other, particularly once they get confident with XPages and start separating business logic from UI. And I think as people get confident with creating plugins, renderers will be the place they come together, using Java to write out the JavaScript required to easily change the presentation layer. Which “planet” you find yourself drawn to will depend on what you enjoy. But with the community we have, there will be plenty of people to share knowledge and expertise on one side or the other.

3 thoughts on “Back-End Developers Are From Mars, Front-End Developer Are From Venus”

  1. Did you call me a girl?? 😉 Thanks for the mention 🙂

    I agree that there appear to be definitely distinctly different approaches developers take to satisfying requirements. But I disagree that this is an XPages thing and not a Domino thing.

    Since R4.5 Domino has always been a web server – and the client side user experience has always been independent of that. The only decision to make them “tightly coupled” was that of the developer who chose to not venture beyond the bounds of the out of the box capabilities. Nothing has changed really in that respect….

    1. Ah forgive me – to be clear – I was never a Notes client developer, always Domino web developer (16 years now, started R4.5). The Web UI and UX were only tightly coupled to the out of the box experience by those developers choosing not to deviate from it.

      1. I was always a Notes Client developer. I think RAD still means developers have to do both, but I think with XPages the preference becomes clearer. Maybe it’s the same outside of XPages and Domino, but that’s really my only frame of reference.

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