Michelle Lim on replacing the dev Frontend/Backend axis with Product/Infrastructure:

If there is one tip I could share with my fellow new engineers, it would be… Stop relying on the “Frontend/Backend” axis to understand the engineering you like. The “Frontend/Backend” axis doesn’t map well to engineers' motivations. If you only use that axis, you can end up in projects you don’t like or worse still, give up on engineering prematurely. Instead, try using the “Product/Infrastructure” axis as the first axis to understand your career preference.

This makes a lot of sense to me. Web development continues to get more complicated and specialized, and the simple frontend/backend division in tech career conversations keeps getting a lot harder to stick with.

Product-first engineers map to “Product engineering” – building, launching and maintaining features that solve user problems. They often love being in the same room as designers and product managers to learn about users, and they love finding technical opportunities that can improve the product.

Code-first engineers map to “Infrastructure engineering” – building infrastructure platforms that support applications, be it via building CI/CD pipelines, implementing logging, or supporting high traffic etc. They’re motivated to better the craft of programming and are often obsessed with things like test coverage, using the latest technologies, code architecture, etc.

This doesn’t cover every case of course, but I think it’s a much better place to start the conversation.