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What is the different between a Frontend, backend & fullstack developer?

Updated: Jan 18, 2021

Front-end and back-end development are the key components that maintain optimal system function in applications and websites. Front-end operations deal with the system interface while backend is usually behind the scenes dealing with servers, databases, and other applications that deliver information to the user.

Since back-end and front-end are different aspects of development, they have become highly specialized. Each has very specific programming languages, and frameworks that require targeted technical expertise. This is thus the etiology of highly specialized front-end and back-end developers who focus on specific parts of front-end and back-end development respectively. There’s yet another unique set of developers; the full-stack developers. These are well-placed to handle every single aspect of both back-end and front-end development.

Front-End Development Explained

The front-end of a website or application is the part that is built to interact with users directly. In web development, front-end creation involves CSS, HTML, and JavaScript.

Cascading Style Sheets, or CSS for short, controls the outlook of a website. It sets the fonts, colors, backgrounds, and even the layout of every page. CSS controls HTML presentation. For instance, it can be used to align various HTML elements in ways that are different from the arrangement in the HTML file.

The latest version of CSS, CSS4 is even more exciting to work with as it has a myriad of other usable features such as animations and basic interactivity.

HyperText Markup Language, HTML, is the framework upon which a website is built. HTML builds the content and structure of a website. The most recent HTML is HTML5.

After creating a website with HTML and CSS, front-end developers improve the overall performance through JavaScript. Through JavaScript, they are able to add complex animations and enhance the interactivity of the site. They additionally are able to build web applications via JavaScript. Most developers will tell you that today JavaScript is quite a gamechanger in web development. With such JavaScript frameworks as AngularJs, Node.js and jQuery, there is quite a lot that a front-end developer could do for a website.

Most front-end developers rely exclusively on CSS, JavaScript and HTML to build their websites. Nevertheless, there still other forms of codes that could be used to code up a website. Such code augments and enhances a website’s front-end.

Back-End Development Explained

Back-end architects design and built the systems, data layers and other services that support a website. As such, backend developers may also work with various algorithms in a website as well as with front-end developers to create solutions that offer enhance user interaction and satisfaction.

Back-end programming indeed forms the major building block for major content management systems such as WordPress as well as most of the complex web applications being used today. It’s in fact not wrong to think that it’s through back-end programming that you find solutions and build anything that you want.

Datasets and algorithms are the backbones of back-end coding. Database technologies that are SQL variants are thus quite indispensable when creating back-end models and database queries.

Back-end developers use various languages in their work. While JavaScript is still quite popular in back-end development, it's recently fallen out of favour with most back-end programmers. Popular languages include Python, Ruby/Rails and PHP among others.

Full-Stack Development Explained

Full-Stack Development includes both front-end and back-end programming. A back-end developer is well-versed in HTML, JavaScript, and CSS for front-end development. They also can work with one or more back-end programming languages. Therefore full-stack development represents the complete web development package.


Web development is highly dynamic. What we call front-end or back-end development today may change radically change a few years down the line. Therefore, if you are thinking of joining the web development community, better make yourself as versatile and forward-thinking as you possibly can.

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