How many full-stack developers does it take to change a light bulb?

Over the next few days we’re going to look at developer job titles. There are a lot of conflicting messages about titles at the moment, so I hope it will help to look at this together and see if we can get a bit of clarity.

To start with, let’s look at the rise of the full-stack developer.

This job title represents a fundamental conundrum for both for developers and product organisations.

Individuals are often encouraged into full-stack development, as the salaries are supposedly better, and demand is higher.

And on the other hand, we have this meme:

'Full Stack Developer'

The message of this and many associated blog posts is: there is no such thing as a full-stack developer, because no one person can possibly maintain expert knowledge across the whole stack.

Indeed, ‘true’ full-stack developers are sometimes referred to as unicorns becaus of their rarity.

For companies, the conundrum is an age-old balance between hiring generalists or specialists, and it’s certainly not exclusive to web development.

As a front-end lead, you’ll be asked about your opinion on this matter. You probably already have an opinion. I have my own of course, but what I really want is to gather different experiences of working as a full-stack or specialist front-end developer in different environments.

I’m biased by my own experiences, and so I’m keen to hear about yours.

So, tell me:

Do you identify yourself more as a full-stack developer, a front-end developer, or something else? Why?

Just hit reply and vent! I’ll pick over some (anonymised) replies in the next email.

All the best,

– Jim

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