This question came in today and I thought it was an excellent one to share with my readers. It is also one of those questions with a lot of different takes so I hope my readers chime in with their own opinions as well. The reader wants to remain anonymous, but I really feel like he is in a similar position as a lot of my other readers as well. So, let's get into it.
First, some background (that I'm mangling a bit to help keep his anonymity so please excuse any awkwardness).
12 years in IT. Started as helpdesk tech, budget cuts inherited systems/server admin, more budget cuts inherited developer position, more budget cuts inherited Adobe Connect Admin and server cluster, even MORE budget cut and absorbed DBA position, but hired helpdesk guy. My organization has around 450 employees spread across the organization and state. So roughly, I'm ... Systems/Server Admin, Web Developer, DBA and Connect Admin. I consider myself a decent CF and .Net programmer (.net MVC mainly). To clarify I am NOT talking about designing Apps, just websites/web applications.
While I was in a different role, I was doing roughly the same over the past decade as well. (Although I only used .Net for a little while.)
Now - the questions:
The more courses and conferences I go to and the more I learn/read about the need to move my server side websites and applications to more client side with 100% responsiveness (which to me, means built on a js platform, with a bootstrap framework). Is this thought process correct?
Technically you are talking about two very different things. One is about moving to the client side and the second is about responsive design. I'm going to completely ignore the responsive question since it is a bit off topic. Let's carry on though with his next question as it directly relates to the above.
Is it even possible to 100% replace all the server side CF and .Net code with JS to bring db calls and such client side? Is it necessary? Or is still having CF/.Net server code ok? This is my big question....should I start dumping/migrating these technologies and move in a js direction?
I started doing more and more server-side work and leaving the client behind. My only real front-end work was taking a PSD and turning it into a table-based layout. (Yes, I used tables. They worked. Deal with it.)
It was only a few years back that I turned my attention back to the client-side. If you've followed this blog for many years, then you know what happened next. I spent a heck of a lot of time researching and learning about the client-side. When I had left it was an IE6-induced mire of pain and agony. Now it's much better.
So enough rambling - he asked - is it possible to 100% replace server-side code with client-side code? No. But you can do a heck of lot more on the client-side then you could in the past. You still have browser incompatibility issues to be concerned about, but the environment is just so much stronger now. Plus, many of these new sexy tools degrade well. It is no longer a case of, "I can use X if IE6 supports it", but rather, "I can use X because I know that if your browser doesn't support it, I gracefully degrade."
It feels like we went from a dumb-client/smart server playground to a smart(er)-client/smart server system. That's good all around in my opinion.
You shouldn't be thinking about replacing your server-side code but complementing it.
If js is the way to go (which quoting you and many others it is), what direction do I go? I get overloaded with which structure to use (backbone VS jq mobile VS angular etc).
I don't know if I am going 100 different directions at once and am being more confusing with each abstract question.
p.s. Ok, responsive design is important. I feel bad ignoring that aspect of his email, but since it was a bit focused in and his main concerns were at a higher level, I thought it was best to ignore it in the main article. Feel free to chastise me for that in the comments. ;)