Is frontend & backend done the wrong way round?

I’ve been thinking about this post for a few weeks now, what stopped me from writing it initially was that I couldn’t decide which an analogy to use. I had too possible contenders, the car industry or the housing industry. The car industry is generally a better comparison tool as it is soo well regarded as being the pinnacle of efficiency, however the housing industry seems to make more sense in this context.

So I want to start thinking about how we build a room in a house. Lets say we have a shell of a house and want to create a bedroom to sleep in.

So firstly we’re going to need walls. Which will be made by our carpenters, who create a frame and screw it into place. They then add drywall, which is prefabricated plaster board to act as a base layer for the wall. Then the plasterer will come along and apply a layer of render to the wall, it will dry and then we can put wall paper on it.

Now in web development, what currently seems to be the practice is for front-end developers to be given a head start on templates, a lead in time of one interaction, say 2 weeks. Then on the next iteration the back end team pick up the stories where they develop the back end functionality and integrate the front end templates.

Now to me this seems like the house process in reverse, the plasterer has 2 weeks to create a render, the wall then gets built and the carpenters then have to try and apply the render to the walls themselves. This results in two outcomes, the carpenters getting frustrated as they don’t specialise in plastering and can’t see why it isn’t right, the second is that the wall looks shit and the plasters have to be called in again to do it again. This to me appears very wasteful and pointless.

We should be moving towards a process where, the the back end builds the bare bones of the site 2 weeks before the front end gets to it to apply the final render. This will enabled the front end coders to apply the superficial level and plaster over any cracks that may have appeared and the back end free to focus on providing a solid base layer.

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