Front-End vs. Back-End vs. Full-Stack Developers

Web development has rapidly expanded in the past decade, this trend is projected to continue. With some giving growth projections of 20 percent or more, web developers can expect to have a thriving market for the foreseeable future. They also have many attractive options for building their unique niche in the development market.

If you’re considering making a career out of web development, you need to think about what areas you want to focus on. Which languages you learn or specialize in has everything to do with where you fit into the market. You’ve likely heard of many of these languages, such as JavaScript, HTML, CSS, Python, and Bootstrap . However, you may be unfamiliar with the unique uses of each language.

Which languages you learn will largely depend on what kind of  website developer you want to be. The three most common types are front end, back end, and full stack developer. In this article, we’ll go over the three to explain what makes them unique and show what they have in common.

First, let’s cover some basic information on website development.

Website Development

While it may look simple at first glance, a website is a complex combination of various programming languages. Usually, more than one person has contributed to developing a web application (though this isn’t always the case). Websites use HTML as a basic template that holds them together.

Originally, HTML was pretty much all there was to website design. This meant that every update to an application had to be entered manually into the HTML files.

As website development advanced, the distinction emerged between static and dynamic web applications. Dynamic websites are where the concepts of the back and front ends begin to emerge. On the one hand, there is what the users see, and on the other is what the website developer sees.

By using other languages in tandem with HTML,  web developers can update websites without needing to manually re-code each time. PHP is the most common language used to do this. A database holds the information for the application and PHP accesses it. This means that developers don’t have to do as much work on updating information. Instead, they can focus on making an application look good and work well for the end-user.

With this in mind, we now have enough information to make the distinction between front- and back-end development.

Front-End Development

Front-end development is programming work done on the front of a website — the part that users see and operate. Front-end developers are responsible for the entire user interface and usually the aesthetic design aspects of the application. Since websites are more effective when they look professional and operate smoothly, front-end developers are key in ensuring that users have a pleasant experience every time they access a site.

Front-end developers tend to use CSS3, JavaScript, and HTML since these languages are key to website design. CSS3 is used to aid HTML in improving the aesthetic quality of a site, while JavaScript offers almost numberless supplemental uses, from programming clocks to adding subscribe buttons. The important point to remember is that these three languages work together to make up the front end of a website.

Back-End Development

If the front end is the look and feel of a website, the back end is the nuts and bolts. If a website doesn’t have content, it doesn’t matter how good it looks or operates. Some of the most commonly used languages for back-end development are PHP, Python, and CSS.

PHP is used to construct website databases, often alongside SQL. Information is pulled from this database to be used by the front-end’s HTML files. You are engaging with these languages, probably without realizing, every time you update your social media accounts or check news sites. The more information that needs to be stored on a website, the more needed a database becomes.

Back-end development is crucial for how a website operates in ways clients never see. If a website isn’t user-friendly, what information it contains matters little to users. On the other hand, if the back-end programming is lacking, a website doesn’t run very well.

Full Stack

Full stack is, put simply, a combination of back- and front-end development. There is no set industry definition of just what makes a full-stack developer. This is because there is such a wide variety of languages used in the industry. It’s generally agreed that full-stack developers can operate with little or no help in both front- and back-end programming. Full-stack developers generally are expected to engage servers, databases, client-side, data modeling, hosting, user experience, and the ongoing needs of the website.

Because full-stack developers can do work in both areas, many employers see them as more efficient. This is what leads many developers to attend a full-stack bootcamp to receive a certificate. By attending a full-stack boot camp, developers can engage in languages they may be unfamiliar with. They’re also able to show their full-stack certificate to prospective employers, increasing their chances of being hired.

The big advantage of becoming a full-stack developer is that it lets you see web development from a variety of angles. This can help improve your work quality and save time or money. Additionally, those with a full-stack certificate of completion often earn a higher salary more than those who merely work in front- or back-end development.

One of the major benefits of a full-stack boot camp is that it can help you learn the most popular languages relatively quickly. This means less time between beginning the learning process and getting hired. This is why so many developers choose to learn new languages this way. With enough knowledge of diverse programming languages, you can be well on your way to becoming a full-stack developer.


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