What is a webdev
February 14, 2005
I was disappointed a few weeks ago to hear two people I respect use the term “webdev” as a term of contempt, referring to the Frontpage-using HTML-monkey type. The odd thing is that both these guys are webdevs, albeit at the other end of the quality scale. Then more recently I went to talk to some other people I respect, who are basically like super high-end PMs. Same thing: to them, webdevs were the folks at the bottom end of the skill scale, someone you would sort of barely admit to having hired — certainly not a potential locus of innovation and big ideas. These experiences made me seriously wonder: is that what most people mean when they use the term?
I’ve had a lot of formal job titles, but in real life I’ve always referred to myself as a webdev. I’ve meant by that something like, “I make stuff that the end user accesses over HTTP”. I’ve always been awfully fond of good old RFC 2616, and never had the slightest interest in apps that don’t connect over the Internet. Over time less of my work as been strictly browser-bound — I’ve done plenty of systems that the user interacted with via Excel or IM or even the command line — but that didn’t change the essential nature of the job for me. Connecting people to knowledge is the entire point of programming as far as I’m concerned, and so far there’s been no better medium for that than the Internet. So in my own heart I’m a webdev.
Let me just make one request: fellow webdevs, please stop using the term to talk about the least skilled and least committed of our kind. If other people do it… well, there’s only one way to change their minds. But we should say it loud, and all that noise. If I hear it again, you will get the smackdown.