Difference between front end and back end developer

As you progress into your journey as a web developer, you are going to reach a point where you need to decide what role in web development are you going to focus on.

There are two basic classifications of web developers: front end and back end.

In this article, we will be talking about the difference between front end and back end developers. I will also be sharing my opinion on which is better between the two roles depending on your own unique skills and personality.

Table of contents:

What is a front end web developer?

Which Are The Main Frontend Development Languages?

What is a back end developer?

What is the difference between frontend and backend?

Which is better frontend or backend developer?

Should I Learn Frontend Or Backend Development, Or Both?

The unicorns: full-stack web developer

Let us begin with defining front end web development.

What is a front end web developer?

A front end web developer is someone who does the job of the software’s user interface and specializes in it.

The term “front end” refers to the part of a web application (or a website or software) that the users are going to see, use, and interact with.

Like for example this article that you are currently reading, is an example of a work done by a front end developer.

Front end developers are responsible for the following goals:

  • How the application looks
  • How is the data being represented to the user
  • To provide a great user experience
  • To make sure that a webpage is responsive to the user’s device
  • The animation available for the application
  • The color or the theme of the application
  • The fonts that will be used

Anything that users see on the application, that is the work done by a front end developer.

Which Are The Main Frontend Development Languages?

A front end developer is expected to be knowledgeable and proficient with HTML, CSS, and Javascript programming.

A web application is composed of one or more web pages. HTML and CSS are markup languages that are used to let the browser know the structure of a web page.

HTML and CSS are static, which means that HTML and CSS alone will not allow dynamic changes and actions to a web page.

Javascript is used to make a web page interactive and smart. Javascript is used in buttons, dropdown menus, animation, submitting a form, and anything that requires dynamic actions or features.

Front end developers are also expected to learn at least one in CSS and one in Javascript frameworks such as:

  • CSS
    • Bootstrap
    • Foundation
    • Bulma CSS
    • Tailwind CSS
    • etc
  • Javascript
    • VueJS
    • AngularJS
    • ReactJS

Frameworks are a collection of libraries and tools that make web development much easier. Frameworks contain almost all of the basic and common requirements of any web development project.

Now, let us proceed with discussing what is a back end developer.

What is a back end developer?

A back end developer is a specialist who is responsible for the part or aspect of a web application that users do not directly see. These include but are not limited to a database, business logic, architecture, networking, and server maintenance.

Back end developers are interested in maintaining the data of the software. They are the ones responsible for the data that front end developers need to present in the software’s user interface. Once a user creates or updates a record, the back end developer makes sure that data is secured and maintains its integrity.

With data in mind back end developers should know database languages such as SQL or NoSQL. They use database applications such as PostgreSQL, MySQL, MongoDB, or SQLite.

Back end developers are also responsible for the security of the application.

Like front end developers, back end developers are expected to be knowledgeable with at least one of these examples of back end programming languages:

  • Python
  • Ruby
  • Java
  • .Net
  • PHP
  • Etc

And knowledge in one of these back end frameworks are also expected:

  • Django (Python)
  • Flask (Python)
  • Ruby on Rails (Ruby)
  • Spring (Java)
  • Struts (Java)
  • ASP.net
  • Laravel (PHP)

Back end developers are also knowledgeable with development operations (DevOps) tools and resources such as Ansible, CI/CD tools, NGINX, and AWS or other web service providers.

What is the difference between frontend and backend?

The difference between the two is frontend developers are responsible for the part of the web application that the users see. While backend developers are responsible for the part of the web application that the users do not directly see but are critical to the data and business logic of the application.

The table summarizes the different languages the front end and back end developers use:
Front end Back end
Markup language HTML
CSS
JSON
XML
YAML
Programming language Javascript Javascript
Python
Java
.Net
Ruby
PHP
Framework Bootstrap
Bulma CSS
Tailwind CSS
VueJS
AngularJS
ReactJS
Node.js
Express.js
Django
Flask
Spring
Strut
ASP.net
Ruby on Rails
Laravel

Which is better frontend or backend developer?

You might be asking, which is better?

The answer to that question actually depends on your very own unique skills and personality.

If you are more creative than logical, then front end development is better for you.

If you are more logical than creative, then back end development is better for you.

Should I Learn Frontend Or Backend Development, Or Both?

Once you know the role that fits better into your unique skills and personality, then you should be able to know what role is best for you that will give you a better chance of becoming successful as a web developer.

The unicorns: full-stack web developer

front end vs back end vs full stack

Front end developers and back end developers are specialists in their crafts.

But there are developers who chose to practice both. And they are called full-stack web developers.

They can do the front end work as well as the back end work.

The author is a full-stack freelance web developer.

Full-stack developers effectively know the programming languages both role requires.

Being able to perform in both roles has its own advantages and disadvantages.

One advantage is that there are more career opportunities for full-stack developers since they can go and look for both roles. Another advantage is that you can speak and relate to different types of developers.

But there is a level of mastery that only specialists can have. Like how much better Stephen Curry shoots three-pointers than everybody else in the NBA. Steph does that because he is a 3-point specialist.

So full-stack developers may not reach a certain mastery that front-end developers or back-end developers can reach.

CONCLUSION

The decision of whether you should become a front end developer or a back end developer solely is your responsibility.

I hope that this article successfully differentiated the two roles. And would be able to help you with your decision.