In recent years, there has been a growing concern among front-end developers wondering will front-end development be automated. With advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning, it’s not that hard to imagine a future where software can write its code, leaving human developers out of the loop. But is it really that scary and serious? In this blog post, we’ll explore the current state of front-end development and whether or not we should be worried about automation taking over.
What is front-end automation?
Front-end automation refers to the process of automating tasks that are centered around interactivity, websites, and attended processes. On the other hand, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a type of automation. It focuses on automating processes from the user interface (UI) level, which is front-end automation.
According to medium.com, there are six levels of front-end automation. Code generation may mean different things, by explicitly stating the level of automation (i.e. code generation). We can clearly communicate at each step what we mean when speaking about “front-end automation”. So, let’s dive in; shall we?
1. No Automation
This is when engineers receive static mockups with only an image representing the end result. Without any additional data such as red lines or generated CSS properties, they recreate everything using code. This process involves a lot of guesswork since static images can only convey limited information. For instance, they even have to guess the font sizes as there is no accompanying data available for them.
2. Engineer Assistance
At this stage, an Automated system can sometimes assist the engineer by providing the styling of the front-end code. An interactive webpage containing red lines and styling code snippets (such as CSS, SASS, or LESS) is provided to the engineer. Several automation tools are available at this level, including Zeplin, Avocode, InVision Inspect, Sketch Measure, and others. The CSS generated by these tools is both human-readable and device-readable and can be copied or used as a reference. Although this level of automation saves time and reduces typing errors, it only automates the styling aspect of software development, which is one out of four parts.
3. Partial Automation
At this stage, an automated system can generate a responsive layout of the front-end code. The system generates code for interface layout, encompassing both styling and layout (DOM). The resulting code can be written in various front-end programming languages, such as HTML, React, Swift, Java (for Android), React Native, Flutter, or any other applicable language. For the first time, this generated code is capable of rendering a pixel-perfect interface identical to the original mockup on a device like a browser.
4. Conditional Automation
At this stage, the automated system can generate interactive parts of the front-end code. With the exception of Naming, the system is capable of generating code for various aspects such as Styling, Layout in the Document Object Model (DOM), and Interactivity. The resulting interface is not static anymore but offers an interactive and animated experience that includes micro-interactions, animations, states, and transitions.
5. High Automation
At this stage, the automated system can generate all parts of the front-end code. All 4 parts of the front end include Styling, Layout, Interactivity, and Semantic Naming. The code should be comprehensive, lucid, and easily maintainable by humans. Fully developed components can either be utilized as-is or serve as a blueprint for engineers. The code is designed to be comprehensible not only to human readers but also to devices.
6. Full Automation
At this stage, the automated system can generate all of the front-end code at a human level. The automated system is capable of creating code for all design specifications. And the output code is distinguishable from the human-written code. At this level, when a code review is performed, it must pass a “Turing Test” to verify that the reviewer can’t tell whether the code was produced by an automated system or a human engineer.
Will front-end development die?
The death of front-end development is one of the mostly-asked questions these days. The answer is, first of all, we can’t predict the future. I mean, who could think of artificial intelligence or metaverse years ago? Second of all, NO ONE could replace humans.
Well, of course, AI has turned the table and changed everything about most jobs. However, front-end development won’t die. But some changes will definitely occur in the industry due to the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools and no-code/low-code software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions.
What is the future of front-end developers?
The future of front-end development with AI, AR, and VR
As AR/VR technology continues to evolve, it will enable front-end developers to create immersive user experiences that were previously not possible. In the near future, we can expect to see more websites and applications incorporating AR/VR elements, such as 3D models and interactive virtual environments. This will allow users to interact with digital content more naturally and intuitively. This will enhance their engagement and overall experience. At this stage, hiring AR/VR designers can become handy and make a fantastic collaboration with UI designers and UX experts.
The future of front-end development using AI and machine learning is exciting. With the advancement of technology, it is becoming increasingly possible for developers to automate repetitive tasks and make use of intelligent tools that can learn from user behavior and preferences. Using AI, front-end developers can learn what parts of the products of their product users receive the best. With deep learning and neural networks, front-end developers can test their UI design quickly and efficiently.
Will AI take over UX UI?
As we mentioned earlier, although AI continues to play a role in UI/UX design, nothing can replace human UI/UX developers. So, it’s unlikely that AI will completely take over UX UI in the near future. AI can actually automate certain aspects of design and user experience. But human creativity and empathy are still crucial in creating effective and engaging interfaces. Also, there are many complicated decisions in UX UI design according to the organization’s requirements that need human intuition and judgment. However, as AI technology continues to advance, it is possible that AI could play a larger role in assisting designers and developers with tasks such as data analysis, prototyping, and testing.
Will AI replace front-end developers?
Now, imagine you do the whole project using AI and you face some bugs. Well, this would be incredibly difficult to debug. It would be like a developer spending months building a huge project, without ever actually trying to run any of the code, until completely finishing it. So, AI isn’t perfect and it can’t replace human front-end developers at all. You can definitely hire the best front-end developers to take care of your web design in 50 years. As a result, we’re still a very long way far from front-end developers losing their job and fully replacing them with AI.
Is front-end development still worth it?
Of course! Why not? There’s a common thought that front-end developers typically earn less than backend and full-stack developers. For this reason, you might be wondering if it’s worth it to become a front-end developer or not. This may be happening in some tech companies. But this doesn’t change anything about the worth of front-end development and the required skills. However, with an average annual salary of $89,948, becoming a front-end developer can still be a worthful option.