How to bridge the gap between developers and designers

One of the toughest conversations for front-end and web developers can be talking to designers. Kathryn Grayson Nanz argues it’s because of a language divide and she aims to change that.

Nanz should know: she lives in both worlds, as a UI designer and React frontend developer with Progress software. She presented “Learn Enough Design to Be Dangerous” at Tuesday’s Progress 360 conference in Boston, Mass.

“A lot of places where we see the friction is with the transfer [with design] or when the teams struggle and we feel that struggle between the two teams,” Nanz said. “They are trying to accomplish literally the same thing. They just get there with two different ways of describing it.

Teach developers the jargon — what kerning Where first means, for example — and that can help bridge the gap, she said.

ThemeBuilder Pro helps programmers design

Nanz sat down with The New Stack to update us on Progress Wednesday’s release of ThemeBuilder Pro, a revamped tool that makes coding design easier for developers.

Originally, ThemeBuilder was more of a tool for decorating components — essentially, for changing colors to reflect a company’s branding, she explained. The revamped tool supports deeper editing, from padding and margins to different typefaces. For designers, the company offered a set of Figma Kits parallel to its component library. But there was nothing that really empowered developers in companies without designers.

“For the teams that had a designer, they were great with the Figma kits,” she said. “Teams that haven’t done that are really, really struggling because they maybe don’t necessarily have a frontend specialist or someone who even – if they have a frontend engineer – is really focused on writing this type of CSS, which is becoming more and more [of] specialization. So we wanted to expand our offering, to allow teams to make these granular changes to the look of our components.

ThemeBuilder allows developers to customize components with a WYSIWYG style editor and then exports a set of CSS or TOUPET and drop it in the app.

It specifically targets those using Progress’s Kendo UI component libraries for jQuery, Angular, React, and Vue. Kendo offers a set of pre-built components so developers don’t have to create components like buttons, color pike date pickers, and data grids. In fact, Progress told TNS that datagrids are a major driver of adoption for their Kendo offering.

Developers can start with Material, Prime Where Fluid design, and when done, implement the design system through their UI components in web applications. They can make changes to themes in a visual UI without having to go into code.
It is available on Progress’ Telerik UI for Blazor, Kendo UI for Angular and KendoReact. Using the interface, developers can accomplish in minutes what would typically take hours or days, the company said in a statement. Press release.

The ThemeBuilder supports all Progress web UI component libraries including jQuery, Angular, React, Vue, ASP.NET MVCASP.NET Core, ASP.NET AjaxPHP, JSP and Blazoraccording to a business blog post.

Support for Kendo UI for jQuery, Telerik UI for ASP.NET MVC, Telerik UI for ASP.NET Core, Telerik UI for PHP, and Telerik UI for JSP will launch early next year, the company said. Telerik UI for ASP.NET Ajax will continue to use the previous version of ThemeBuilder for the time being, due to significant differences in component rendering.

The company also announced new features for Blazor development frameworks, .NET MAUIAngular and React, to help developers create a consistent, high-quality, and accessible user interface.

Front expansion

In general, frontend developers are doing more and more beyond what was originally the frontend, both on the “frontend of the frontend and the backend of the frontend,” Nanz said, paraphrasing Brad Frostauthor of Atomic design.

“The interface gets so much bigger as JavaScript becomes able to do more,” she said. “We see these big frontend frameworks, that our frontend engineers who write React or Angular do a lot of business logic and backend type things on the frontend. This front line recedes more and more.

Disclosure: Progress Software paid for Loraine Lawson to attend its conference in Boston.

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