Ultimate Guide to Frontend Bootcamps

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Frontend developers ensure web applications are well-designed, responsive, and friendly to touch on mobile devices. Thanks to frontend frameworks like AngularJS, frontend programming is becoming a more important part of the web development stack.  These new frontend frameworks allow developers to move programming logic and data that was once restricted to server-side development onto the frontend, which increases the speed and interactivity of user-facing functionality.

Meanwhile, the market demand for frontend developers continues to rise.  As a result of this market demand, and the increasing power of what can be accomplished on the frontend, a range of frontend bootcamps and courses have emerged. So we compiled the below list of top courses and programs. In this post, we’ll describe each course, and offer some opinions and recommendations. But first, let’s clarify a few things about frontend web development.

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It’s harder to choose a program for learning frontend

In response to the buzz around frontend programming, a number of frontend-focused coding bootcamps have emerged. These bootcamps, however, don’t consistently serve the same needs in the same way that iOS Bootcamps or Rails bootcamps do. This generation of frontend development is relatively new, and there is no single framework or development process that is definitively better than the others. Arguments about React vs Angular or Grunt vs Gulp are still up in the air.

To make the debates more interesting, all the major frontend frameworks and libraries are open-source, which means their development is extensively monitored and influenced by the developers who use them. This has made for a more collaborative, yet contentious process toward finding the frontend development workflow that works best for a majority of developers. So how can you cut through all these opinions about the emerging world of frontend web specialists? Hopefully this post will do that for you!

What’s the difference between frontend and backend development?

Frontend web development refers to working with any code, markup or styling that is user-facing. That means that anything that is clicked, tapped, scrolled, etc has to do with the frontend. The styling of the buttons, the links, the layout, and everything else the user can see is handled by frontend web development. Frontend responsibilities have expanded in recent years to include data-modeling, data manipulation and frequent calls to servers to retrieve and create data.

The backend, on the other hand, simply describes any code that is executed on a server. This frequently involves creating, retrieving, updating and deleting data, along with processing it for operations like searching, organizing or transferring data.

Frontend vs JavaScript — what’s the difference?

“Frontend” is the general term used to describe all code that executes and manifests itself in the context of a web browser. This may include HTML, CSS and JavaScript. But JavaScript is the star. JavaScript can add dynamic functionality, use complex functions, data structures, and element manipulation, among other operations. CSS and HTML are static styling and markup, respectively, and cannot dynamically alter themselves once they’ve been loaded in to the browser.

Why should I care about these frontend frameworks?

Frameworks are big chunks of pre-written code that have a specific structure designed to optimize for certain characteristics on the frontend. You might have heard about JavaScript frameworks like Angular, React, Ember and Backbone, and you might be wondering why you should care.

The cool thing about these frameworks is they’re fast, have lots of features for making your site responsive and dynamic, and make it easier to delegate logical responsibilities to your browser. This translates into big and small companies being able to handle large amounts of data, interactive animations, and mobile compatibility using some or all of the features these frameworks offer. Some of YouTube’s apps, for example, use Angular to cut down on loading times for large videos and playlists, while making the site more interactive with cool animations. Facebook uses React to do all new JavaScript development, and used it refactor big parts of their site, like their commenting interface.

For developers though, the best part might be how many features these frameworks offer with minimal setup compared to past implementations of frontend interactivity.

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JoeMeet Joe – Frontend Web Dev Course Director

Prior to becoming the Curriculum Developer for Bloc’s Frontend Web Development course, Joe was a developer at Lapel, Brandslip and ESM Group.  Joe developed the Frontend curriculum and recruits, trains and manages mentors.

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Methodology for our bootcamp recommendations

In writing this guide, we wanted to distinguish between programs by what they teach, how comprehensively they teach the subject, and how relevant each curriculum is to getting a job as a frontend developer. We aren’t afraid of offering up opinions, so next we asked Joe, our Frontend Curriculum Developer, to share his thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of each program. So without further ado, let’s jump right in.

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Betamore Academy

Baltimore, Maryland

$3,000

6 hrs/week x 10 of weeks

Whether you’ve never touched a website or maybe done a little dabbling in WordPress, you’ll learn everything you need to know about web-design in this class. Topics in HTML, CSS, JS, responsive web design for mobile and tablets, all of that is covered in this 10 week course.

Joe’s Take:

Betamore’s course includes extensive coverage of basic JavaScript and jQuery, along with mobile development patterns using grids and media queries. They also take time to teach PHP, which makes it a great option for any student looking at becoming a WordPress developer. I strongly recommend this course for designers who want exposure to development patterns that will enable them to build out working versions of their mockups. It’s also a good bootcamp for students who have less technical experience. However, this course also omits emphasis on modern JavaScript frameworks and tools like AngularJS or EmberJS, so don’t recommend it to anyone looking to spend their future job as a frontend developer working on large JavaScript applications.

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Bloc

Online

$4,999

25 hrs/week x 18 of weeks

Bloc offers structured, intensive online courses in web development, mobile development, and web design, built around the time-tested model of an apprenticeship. Bloc students around the world acquire life-changing skills through hands-on, project-based learning and continuous mentoring from an experienced professional.

Joe’s Take:

I’m obviously biased, but I think Bloc offers the best solution for anyone who doesn’t want to move to another city or fork over $10K+ to get an intensive bootcamp experience. Benefits of Bloc: an online approach where you work 1-on-1 with a mentor; rigorous, structured curriculum; job prep phase; curriculum that is regularly updated to keep pace with the rapid development of the frontend landscape; experience with a modern frontend framework, AngularJS, which explores data-modeling and the architecture of building robust applications using only the frontend, as well as exposure to NodeJS on the backend. Bloc emphasizes project-based learning that simulates working on a real dev team, pair-programming, and career acceleration.

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DecodeMTL

Montreal, Canada

$2,145.34

4 hrs/week x 8 of weeks

Front-end web development allows you to build beautifully crafted and well coded simple websites. You will learn how to quickly turn ideas into working prototypes, and be able to design and build a well structured website. This course is for beginners who are eager to learn web development. You will be required to put in a lot of work to get the most out of this course. A laptop is also required.

Joe’s Take:

DecodeMTL provides a good beginner’s education in frontend web development. Like Betamore, they take you through the basics of HTML, CSS and JavaScript, and expose you to jQuery and basic DOM Scripting. They offer instruction on responsive web development, so if you’re looking for an intro on making your websites compatible with many devices, that’s covered. They have a limited projects section, the scope of which seems to be restricted to landing pages or a “microsite”. It seems to be a good fit for designers looking to polish their frontend skills. I wouldn’t recommend it to students looking to produce a high-volume of work, or those interested in having a deep understanding of any of the major frontend frameworks.

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Fullstack Academy

New York City, New York

$15,680

9.5 hrs/week x 13 of weeks

Our JavaScript-driven curriculum immerses you in the latest web technologies such as Node.js, Angular.js and MongoDB. You bring the energy, curiosity and dedication — we’ll provide a world-class school for becoming an expert software developer.

Joe’s Take:

Fullstack has a rigorous and comprehensive curriculum. It seems to strike a good balance between teaching practical skills, like web development in multiple languages, and introducing Computer Science foundations, like algorithms and data structures. The course seems very intensive for a 13 week schedule. As the name implies, it offers more than frontend development, so you’ll get good exposure to applying JavaScript on the backend, in addition to using it with Angular on the frontend. If you can afford the tuition and the cost of living in NYC, it’s one of the best options available.

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General Assembly

Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Hong Kong, London, Melbourne, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, Sydney, and Washington D.C.

$3,500

6 hrs/week x 13 of weeks

This course is designed to teach students how to quickly translate their ideas into functional, stylized websites for personal or business purposes. This course enables students to create a site with the user in mind, become more innovative in their current job role, and master the technical vocabulary to communicate ideas to others.

Joe’s Take:

General Assembly’s frontend course is part-time, which means that the total time spent working on frontend development is notably less than other bootcamps we’ve mentioned here. The part-time nature of the course means that this may not be the best course if you’re trying to launch a new career as a frontend developer. If you’re a designer or marketer looking to get some basic programming experience under your belt, this might be for you. General Assembly is one of the industry’s biggest bootcamps, so if you’re interested in working on a shorter introduction to frontend development with a polished mentorship process, this is a great option.

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Hack Reactor

San Francisco, and online

$17,780

66 hrs/week x 12 of weeks

You’ll begin Hack Reactor with a feeling of excitement and anticipation. Twelve weeks later, you’ll follow the footsteps of our trailblazing alumni, taking the methodologies and best practices you perfected at our coding bootcamp to your next job. We’ve built world class software engineering curriculum and programming courses. However, Hack Reactor is, above all else, a world-class learning environment.

Joe’s Take:

Hack Reactor bills itself as “the Harvard of development bootcamps”, and they’re not far off in both educational quality and price. This is the most intensive learning experience you’ll have in a bootcamp, and you’ll be challenged to work with different server-side and frontend technologies. It’s the most expensive option we’ve seen so far — but with an average annual salary over $100,000 after graduation, you should be able to pay it off in short order. Hack Reactor gives lectures to small classes and breaks its students up into smaller teams for working on projects related to the lectures afterward. They explore computer science basics, algorithms and design patterns, and facilitate student project development using technologies like Node, Angular, Rails and more. If you can manage the move to San Francisco and make it through their tough admission process (only 3% of applicants get accepted), it’s a fantastic option. They also recently released an online version of the course, but it’s still very much in its infancy. We recommend their in person bootcamps, but for the cost, it’s worth waiting on their online course until it’s clear the track record can match their in-person counterpart.

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HackerYou

Toronto Canada

$7000

40 hrs/week for 9 weeks

Make 2015 the year that you take charge of your career. Join us for HackerYou’s full-time front-end web development immersive and become a front-end developer in nine weeks. Yes, the only thing standing between you and a rewarding career as a front-end web developer is nine weeks with us. Classes run Monday to Friday from 10 am to 6 pm.

Joe’s Take:

Recommended by Jon Lax of Teehan + Lax, the designers and developers behind big websites like Medium, this Canadian bootcamp provides instruction on all of the basic frontend technologies, and also introduces you to developing for WordPress. They offer instruction in “soft” skills as well, discussing subjects like personal branding, starting a freelance business, project management and more. They guarantee that you’ll have 12 finished projects by the end of the course, which makes it ideal for students looking to produce a large volume of work. If you live in Canada and are looking to freelance or work at an agency after your bootcamp, then this is great option.

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New York Code + Design Academy

New York City, New York

$2,000

6 hrs/week x 8 of weeks

If you prefer the front lines of web development, envisioning the layout of elements and the aesthetics of a webpage across all devices, then The New York Code + Design Academy’s Front End 101 is just the class for your detail-oriented mind.  Front End 101 is an intensive 8-week coding workshop focused on advanced front end web development skills and geared toward tasks closely related to that of an everyday front end web developer.

Joe’s Take:

NYCDA is a good option for people looking for a short bootcamp (8 weeks) that focuses more on applying designs with frontend development. Their emphasis on CSS animations, Sass, practical JavaScript and DOM manipulation with jQuery is supplemented with student projects that you present to your peers during the last week. If you’re a designer looking to make your work come alive, this is a great option. However, similar to DecodeMTL and BetaMore, this one doesn’t go deep into JavaScript and skips frameworks like Angular and Ember altogether. Unfortunately, they require taking their Web Development 100 course or demonstrating equivalent experience, so you may have to look elsewhere if you’re student with a blank slate.

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TalentBuddy

Online

$4,500

15 hrs/week x 15 weeks

Learn the best practices from mentors that forged their skills solving complex problems at Google or built products used at Twitter, HubSpot and Oracle. This course is focused on teaching the unique challenges of building real-time web applications with fast-growing technologies (Javascript, Ember.js, Node.js, Express.js, MongoDB). Learn from a set of interconnected problem solving experiences: from how to set-up a coding environment to dealing with massive amounts of data.

Joe’s Take:

TalentBuddy is a full stack JavaScript bootcamp, which means they don’t emphasize frontend development. However, JavaScript is their language of choice and they do work with the frontend, so we’ve included it here. It’s a good option if you’re looking to understand what’s possible using Node on the backend, and how it works with frontend technologies. They only require a 15/hr a week commitment and only ask students to complete one project, which means it’s not super intensive. I’d recommend this for someone looking to get a sense of the entire JavaScript ecosystem, but who isn’t looking for a full-time commitment and doesn’t want to move to a new city to get a solid learning experience.

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Conclusion

Frontend bootcamps vary widely in price, location, requirements, and exposure to different languages and frameworks. In general, if you’re looking for skills that will keep you in the development field longer, look to invest in learning one of the major frontend frameworks in addition to the basics of CSS, HTML and JavaScript. If you’re considering enrolling in a bootcamp, weigh each of these aspects instead of worrying about names or recognition. It’s a tough choice, but there are many great options to choose from.

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