The following blog post was written a while ago. Due to one reason or the other, it never got published. Well, the wait has ended!
It is just like “Wolverine and the X-Men”, but a way more creative bunch.
Jitendra Vyas is one among those who were enthusiastic about art and design even before the Internet was widespread in India. Passionate about experimenting and learning new ways of web design, he was always on the lookout for further knowledge and experience. As such, it was important to him to find people who knew more than him; to share what he knew, and to learn what he knew not. It was this yearning of his that led him to bring together the Bangalore Front End Developers community.
According to him, in this world where tools and technologies are changing so fast, the ability to understand and start using a tool is equally important as having a thorough understanding of the basic concepts related to web development. “It is one thing to say you know HTML and CSS really well, but it is completely another when you use notepad to type in your code”, says Jitendra. “You have to pick up tools that will make your life easier, tools that increase your productivity. Without them, you will be left behind in no time because these days, speed is as important as quality”.
His career as a web designer primarily started when he joined a software firm in his home town Bikaner, Rajasthan. There he started experimenting with HTML and CSS as a way of bringing his design skills onto the web. He found Dreamweaver to be extremely helpful in this regard. With fiery enthusiasm, he explored and experimented on his own, thereby learning a lot. Even though his company fared well, his thirst for exploring new horizons couldn’t be quenched remaining there. After 3 long years of work, he quit.
His thoughts on design as a profession were quite insightful. According to him, finding a good designer is not that hard if you stop comparing them with each other. The trick is to search for them at the right place and be open to hire them from any part of world. However, it is a bit difficult to always give them the correct combination of interesting work as well as good pay.
He thinks that as far as a company is concerned, just hiring a good designer is not enough. You have to listen to them, give value to their thoughts, give them the freedom to experiment, give them time to read UX blogs, invite them to attend product meetings, send them to design conferences if you can afford to, buy them good books, etc. Designers should not be considered just as a pixel decorator. The more he understands the expectations from a project or product and about who the target audience are, the better he can design. Also, a good design is not a guarantee of good user experience. There are many cases where even fantastic graphic designers tend to lack in UX skills. Due to that reason, everyone should be involved in design decisions. Good User experience is a team effort and everyone is a part of that – Designer, front-end developer, copywriter, back-end developer, product manager, etc.
From his experience in the industry, some (not all!) good designers don’t prefer to work at big companies because they think they would not be able to make good designs with their own vision, as well as because they might have to work with people who have less understanding of design than them. He quoted the following:
“The enemy of good design is rarely bad design; more often, it is politics, and poor understanding of the problem at hand”
Moreover, as a freelancer, you are free to choose your own clients and interesting projects and can earn even more money than a regular job, if you are really good at what you do. However, if you are able to find the right enterprise, this shouldn’t be that much of a problem. There are actually many good designers who work at big organizations as well, and these people make designs too.
Being at Bangalore, he looked forward to meeting people with similar interests and learning new technologies related to front end development together. He used the most popular and easiest method of reaching out to everyone – Facebook.
He put down his initial thought on the UX India group. He received an amazing response as many people out there were excited to find a kindred soul. The replies and comments from them was the motivation that Jitendra needed to take the initiative to form the Bangalore Front End Developers group, comprising of a group of elite developers from Bangalore. The group came to be on 26th August, 2012. Read his first post in the group.
Things kicked off when Kavita Arora of the Bangalore Designers group invited Jitendra for giving a demo on SASS for one of their meetups, which was held at CIS. This was done as a joint workshop along with FED.
The group started growing when Jitendra started adding developers from his network to the group. The growth continued when his friends added their friends and so on.
Still being in the early stages of growth, they have not fixed any strict schedules for meetings as of now. Yet, the group is very much active, brimming with discussions regarding the latest and coolest front end technologies.
Apart from just geeks talking to each other about heavy duty front-end issues, they help each other out whenever one of them gets stuck at some point. They have online meetups every now and then, by which they are slowly moving forward on the beautiful journey that lies ahead.
The group is thriving with 800+ members today and instead of simply increasing the head count, they strive to keep the group alive and productive with the ones who are already there. In Jitendra’s own words, “It is easy to start a group, but to prevent it becoming useless, is hard”.
Maulik Suchak says
First, FED is not a term for me. Its a platform where Geeks becomes ‘SuperGeeks’. As we already know, there are lots of things that keep happening day by day in the Front-End world. This is the group where you can share ideas, meet front-end geeks and share tricks!
Talking about the future of the group, I must say it looks very bright. If we do something with good cause, people will surely admire it. Moreover, all of us are putting in our best to keep it alive.
Personally, I like the group because the people there are very enthusiastic and active. We even have plans to take this discussion out from Facebook to our own website if we can achieve it. We are thinking of organizing outings as well.
FED is great! I have never seen such an active group. The good thing is that people are friendly. We joke, we fight and we help each other out. It is just like family to me.
FED has many talented people in the group. I would love to work with them if I ever get a chance. It has helped me in many ways as a developer as well. I had an illusion of knowing a lot about front end development, but after joining this group, I realized that there are still lots of things out there that I need to learn and explore, things that I did not know of in the past.
Bangalore is the place where people come to develop and educate themselves, to make one’s self the best there is. This group has many such motivated people and to have people like that around, makes a lot of difference in your work as well. From getting help to fix issues when you are stuck at some point, to getting to know the latest trends in the market.
If you want to learn something new, then this group has a lot to offer you.
Jitendra started this group after we were discussing about SaaS in User Experience India fb group. We decided to organise a meetup where we got to meet many other front end developers and got a chance to discuss about the workflow each one uses. We also pledged to never hoard the knowledge we learn/acquire and always share it in the group. Then we had a Google Hangout on various CSS frameworks. Non-bangalore folks joined in as well.
I was under the impression that all good designers and front end developers had moved to the valley and nobody stayed back in India. However, the group proved me wrong. I think it encouraged a few of them to come to Bangalore (to attend events like Meta Refresh and then meet other members)
So far, I’ve learned a lot from the discussions we’ve had in the group and I see regular meetups/learning sessions happening in the near future. I hope this encourages developers from other parts of India to start their local user groups as well.
It would seems that Christian Heilmann is an active member of the group. Check out what he had to say once: https://twitter.com/codepo8/status/405747481201229826
In a interesting turn of events, Praveen accidentally made the group a secret one, which unfortunately, was an action that Facebook doesn’t let you revert. So if you want to join in, you should be friends with someone who is already in the group and they have to send you an invite. You can see the current members here: http://labs.apnerve.com/bangalore-frontend/
Well, that’s it for now folks! Here is to the future!