Front-End versus Back-End Developers | Pluralsight (2023)

Updated on November 2, 2022

Frontend and backend are two of the most used terms in the computer industry; in a way, they became buzzwords. They dictate the type of job you do as a software developer, the technologies you use and how much you get paid.

So, let's talk about the differences between these two terms, why they exist in the first place and the different paths you can take in your software development career.

Frontend vs. backend: A matter of site rendering?

To begin this journey, we need to understand the concept of site rendering. In layman's terms, site rendering means generating or rendering HTML output. HTML is a markup language that web developers use to create web pages. It's said that site rendering can happen both at server-side or client-side level, so what does this mean? It's worth noting that frontend and client-side are synonyms. The same is true for backend and server-side.

Server-side rendering (Backend development)

Not until too long ago, server-side rendering, or back-end web development, was the de facto way to create websites and web applications. You visit a page, send a request for content, the server processes this request and creates a response that is sent back to your browser.

When a site renders server-side, all the processes involved in creating an HTML page that your web browser can understand are handled on a remote server hosting the website or web application. This includes querying databases for information and processing any logic that your web application requires.

(Video) Front End vs Back End development - Which should you learn?

While the remote server is busy at work, your web browser is idle, waiting for the server to finish processing the request and sending a response. When the response is received, web browsers interpret it and display the content on the screen.

In more modern days, a new form of site rendering emerged called client-side rendering or front-end development.

With client-side rendering, the rendering of the content happens in your computer instead of the remote web server using the de facto language of the web, JavaScript. In practical terms, it means that a server is only needed to serve the raw web application, and the browser will be in charge of rendering this application in its final form, HTML. It also means that some of the logic involved in creating the web page, especially the one in charge of dealing with how things are presented to the user on the screen (called presentation logic) are handled on the client-side.

Client-side rendering became popular with the advent of JavaScript libraries such as Angular, React and Vue.

Isomorphic rendering

Also called universal rendering, isomorphic rendering is a new technique used in modern web development. The idea behind isomorphic rendering is to render a web application developed with a JavaScript framework such as Angular, React or Vue, on the server-side the first time a page is loaded and on the client-side afterward.

To complicate things even further, there is yet another form of rendering called pre-rendering that renders content at compile time.

Where to render a site is a decision that is often based on the type of application and application demographics and will vary from team to team and business to business.

(Video) Frontend vs. Backend - Which Is Better?

What is a front-end developer?

Now that we understand the different types of site rendering methods, it's easier to understand that front-end development is the art of creating sites and web applications that render on the client-side.

Technologies used by front-end developers

While there are many different types of technologies and stacks, most front-end web developers use HTML, CSS and JavaScript, the de facto building blocks of the web, and client-side frameworks such as Angular, React, Stencil and Vue.

Not everything happens on the frontend, though. Client-side rendered applications still rely on services and APIs that run on back-end remote servers or the cloud.

What are some jobs for front-end developers?

  • Web designer:A web designer, you guessed it, designs websites. The job title of web designer is pretty broad, though. A web designer could just be someone who designs the sites in a program likePhotoshoporFireworksand will never touch the code. But in another location, a web designer could do all the design comps in Photoshop and then be responsible for creating all the HTML and CSS (and sometimes evenJavaScript) to go along with it.

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  • User interface (UI) designer:This is basically a visual designer and is generally focused on design. They're not usually involved in the implementation of the design, but they might know light HTML and CSS so they can communicate their ideas more effectively to the front-end developers.

  • User experience (UX) designers:UX designers work in the frontend, studying and researching how people use the sites. Then, they make changes through a lot of testing.

  • Front-end developer: Also called a front-end designer, they can create a site without any back-end development. The site they would create without a web developer, or using the backend, is a static site. A static site is something like a site for a restaurant or hair salon. It doesn't require any information to be stored in a database. The pages will almost always stay the same, unless it's time for a redesign. A front-end developer may be required to have a grasp on testing, as well as be well versed in HTML, CSS and JavaScript. This person may or may not have experience with creating the design in a design program. A different version of this title is front-end engineer. People who work with specific front-end languages likeJavaScript developerare also considered front-end developers.

What is a back-end developer?

While front-end development is about making sites and web applications render on the client-side, back-end development is all about making these apps render server-side. But it's a bit more involved than that. While the previous statement holds true, back-end developers also create services that process business logic and access other resources such as databases, file servers, cloud services and more. These services are the backbone of any application and can be accessed and used not only by server-side rendering apps but also from client-side rendering apps.

Technologies used by back-end developers

When back-end developers create apps that render on the server-side, they use the same building blocks as front-end developers: HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

Back-end developers also work with software stacks that include operating systems, web servers, frameworks, languages, programming APIs and more. The frameworks, languages and programming APIs in these stacks are used to render server-side sites and web applications and to create services that other applications can consume.

Notorious stacks include .NET, MEAN and LAMP, but there are many more, and each includes a programming language of choice, such as C#, JavaScript, Java, Go, Python or PHP.

What is a full-stack developer?

(Video) Frontend Vs. Backend Development – What's The Difference?

As a developer, you don't have to settle for just frontend or backend; you can do both as a full-stack developer. This is, in my experience, where the fun begins. Full-stack developers can create sites and web applications that render both on the client-side (frontend) and the server-side (backend).

They also create services, components and APIs that encapsulate business logic, solve specific business problems and access infrastructure such as databases, file servers, cloud services and more. They work with the full stack and it's the best of both worlds.

Reflections on Frontend and Backend Developers

By now, the difference between the frontend and backend should be more evident, as well as the different activities carried by developers that work on both ends of the wire. In practical terms, the frontend means the browser and the backend, the server or, more recently, the cloud.

If you like user interfaces, are keen on sound design and like the visual aspects of creating apps, then perhaps you would be most interested in becoming a front end software developer. The frontend is exciting not only visually, but also from a programming standpoint; you will spend endless hours writing logic that will make your site look and behave the way the designers intended.

If you like to spend your time solving business problems, writing algorithms, working in the cloud, and creating services and APIs, then backend development is for you.

If you enjoy both and feel equally excited and comfortable with all aspects of web application creation, then a career as a full-stack developer is what you want.

Whatever path you choose, there has never been a better time to be a software developer.

FAQs

Which is better front end or back-end developer? ›

A: It depends upon the interest and specialization you want to undergo. If you're interested in the designing aspect, the front end would be great. If you're good at logical thinking, API, server management, the back end would be better.

Who gets paid more front end or back-end developers? ›

According to Indeed, a mid-level Front end developer makes around $106,553 per year, while a Back end specialist ─ $122,768. The average Front end engineer salary in the US, according to PayScale, is $74,432 per annum.

Is Python front end or backend? ›

Remember, Python is a general programming language. It can be used for both frontend and backend development. However, it is more widely used in backend; in fact, Python is listed among the most popular backend languages.

Is Java front end or backend? ›

Java programming language is used for back-end development. Based on the training from Java online course; browsers don't understand other languages other than HTML, CSS, and JS. So, other programming languages like Java, PHP, Python, Ruby on Reels, and Node JS all run on the server.

Is backend coding harder than front end? ›

1. Steeper Beginner Learning Curve. There is no doubt that backend development has a steeper curve than frontend. While you can build a website frontend with only HTML and CSS, you need to learn an actual programming language to work on the backend.

Can I learn backend before frontend? ›

Short answer is No,you don't need to know any frontend to work on the backend. But you need to have command to frontend basics to start.

Which developer has highest salary? ›

Highest Paying Programming Jobs
  • Full-Stack Developer. Source: QAwithExperts. ...
  • Cloud Architect. Source: TechTarget. ...
  • Data Scientist. ...
  • Machine Learning Engineer. ...
  • Database Developer. ...
  • IT Specialist. ...
  • DevOps Engineer. ...
  • AI Engineer.
5 Aug 2022

Do backend developers have future? ›

The future scope of a back-end developer is very vast and many companies are looking to hire them. They can specialize in any of these fields: – Data Integration – This involves gathering data from different sources and mapping it with the appropriate databases.

Do front-end developers have a future? ›

Front-end developers and organizations are constantly looking for solutions to improve user experience, scalability, and accessibility, among many other things. JavaScript reigns supreme just like it did in 2021 and previous years but it's never a bad idea to learn a new framework or library.

Is C++ front-end or backend? ›

C++ is a widely used programming language nowadays for competitive programming. It is popular as a back-end language too.

What language is full stack? ›

Currently, the most popular languages for full stack developers are Node. js, Python, C#. ASP.NET, and PHP. It's believed that the most common languages for full stack developers in future will be HTML/CSS, and some of the newer ones like AngularJS, Node.

Which language is mostly used in frontend? ›

The most extensively used Frontend Language is HTML, which is a markup language. HyperText Markup Language is the abbreviation for HyperText Markup Language. It's a programming language that is used to make websites and web apps.

Is Java better than Python? ›

Java is generally faster and more efficient than Python because it is a compiled language. As an interpreted language, Python has simpler, more concise syntax than Java. It can perform the same function as Java in fewer lines of code.

Is Python or Java better for backend? ›

Java is popular among programmers interested in web development, big data, cloud development, and Android app development. Python is favored by those working in back-end development, app development, data science, and machine learning.

Is backend development hard? ›

The backend development is easier one said. It only needs to prepare the data without the complication of creating a good interface and any subjective matter regarding design. How can we determine which one is harder then? It depends on its degree of complexity.

Can I switch from frontend to backend? ›

Making the switch from front end to back end can feel daunting. It means having to learn new frameworks, new languages, and mastering a different way of thinking. Luckily, having front-end experience can help set the foundation for becoming a back-end developer.

Which is the easiest backend? ›

Express JS is considered to be one of the top backend frameworks. It is a single programming language. ExpressJS is available to JavaScript developers to write server-side applications. It has an easy and straightforward learning curve.

How long does it take to learn backend? ›

How long does it take to become a back-end developer? Getting a back-end developer job can take three months to six years, depending on: Your current skills before starting your technical education. How well your previous experience translates to software development.

Which backend language is best for beginners? ›

C# C-Sharp is one of the most widely used languages for creating system backends. It's because of its incredible features, such as Windows server automation.

Which is more in demand front-end or backend? ›

As there are more backend languages than front-end, the jobs are also according to the technologies. There is a high demand for Java developers who use Springboot to develop backends.

Which frontend is easiest to learn? ›

HTML gives you the basics, but there are four other languages that are relatively fast and simple to master. Learn more here. Programming languages like CSS, HTML, and JavaScript are among the simpler languages to learn for front-end development.

Which IT field has highest salary? ›

Here are some of the highest paying IT jobs in 2023:
  • Big Data Engineer.
  • Software Architect.
  • Blockchain Engineer.
  • DevOps Engineer.
  • Cloud Architect.
  • Full-Stack Developer.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) Engineer.
  • Product Manager.
4 days ago

Which IT field is best for future? ›

Top 5 Tech Careers Of The Future
  • Machine learning engineer. This specific branch of artificial intelligence is ideal for those who have a passion for computer science and desire a career in a fast-moving and exciting industry. ...
  • UX designer. ...
  • Robotics engineer. ...
  • Data scientist. ...
  • Cloud engineer.

Which skill has highest salary? ›

10 Most Essential High-Income Skills to Learn
  • Online Course Creation. ...
  • Content Creation/ Content Marketing. ...
  • Copywriting. ...
  • Web Designing. ...
  • Software Development. ...
  • Data Analysis. ...
  • Python Programming. ...
  • Social Media Marketing.

How many hours does a backend developer work? ›

A back-end developer works over 40 hours a week on a full-time schedule. You also work overtime hours and weekends to complete web projects within the stipulated time.

Which country is best for backend developer? ›

The most popular locations among different countries for offshore software development worldwide are Central and Eastern Europe, India, China, and South America.

Which backend is most in demand? ›

6 Most Popular Backend Frameworks
  • Express. js. ...
  • ASP.NET Core. ASP.NET Core was used by 20% of backend web developers in the last year. ...
  • Spring. Spring was used by more than 16% of backend web developers in 2021. ...
  • Django. Django was used by 13% of backend web developers in 2021. ...
  • Laravel. ...
  • Ruby on Rails.
5 Aug 2022

How many hours do front-end developers work? ›

How many hours does a web developer work each week? Most web developers work full time. This typically translates to 40 hours a week, though exact hours vary. Developers may need to work overtime to meet client or employer needs.

Do big companies hire front-end developers? ›

High-profile companies are hiring front end developers to improve their business visibility. You can also work for development firms that offer design services like mobile designs and digital experiences. These companies offer great benefits and learning opportunities for career growth.

Do frontend developers get paid less? ›

Full-stack developers command the higher salary package than front end or back end developers. Employers are willing to pay more for a full stack developer because it makes more business sense to hire an individual with front and back end skills, rather than getting two people to do the same job.

Is Facebook a backend? ›

Facebook uses a variety of services, tools, and programming languages to make up its core infrastructure. At the front end, their servers run a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP). Facebook's backend services are written in a variety of different programming languages including C++, Java, Python, and Erlang.

What is the most powerful coding language? ›

Java is one of the most powerful programming languages that is currently used in more than 3 billion devices. Java is currently one of the most trending technology. It is used in desktop applications, mobile applications, web development, Artificial intelligence, cloud applications, and many more.

Is there coding in front end? ›

Front end development is a style of computer programming that focuses on the coding and creation of elements and features of a website that will then be seen by the user. It's about making sure the visual aspects of a website are functional. You can also think of front end as the “client side” of an application.

Is full stack and DevOps same? ›

DevOps and full-stack development are two parallel modern day software development philosophies. Both have their own development environment, objectives, and end-result. While full-stack development might help drive growth in certain scenarios, in other scenarios it would be DevOps that can steer your project forward.

Is Python full stack? ›

No matter where you are in your journey as a developer, Python is a great programming language to support you in full-stack development. Learning the skills to carry a web application from design to deployment will not only be a fascinating learning process, but an excellent move for your career as well.

Which country is best for full-stack developer? ›

The best country that offers great full-stack developer future scope is the USA. However, other countries, like Australia, Canada, Sweden, Singapore, and the United Kingdom, also provide great opportunities for these professionals.

Which is easier front end or backend? ›

In short, front-end developers make the stuff the user interacts with while the back-end developers ensure it all works flawlessly. There's a general perception that front-end developers have it easier than their back-end colleagues. This might be true on a beginner level.

Is Python a frontend language? ›

Here are the major languages: Python: Is Python front end or back end? The simple answer is yes: Python can be used for either front-end or back-end development. That said, it's approachable syntax and widespread server-side use makes Python a core programming language for back-end development.

What language is Netflix frontend written in? ›

Netflix frontend is written in ReactJS for mainly three reasons… startup speed, runtime performance, and modularity.

Should I learn C++ or Java? ›

C++ is used more in large-scale development, like for banks or governments, whereas Java creates more consumer products like apps, software, and video games. Java is ideal for creating simple mobile applications, so if your ideal job is to become a freelance app creator, Java is where you should start.

Which coding language should I learn first? ›

Python is one of the most chosen programming languages to learn first for its wide use and simplicity. It is a great stepping stone to learning more complex programming languages and frameworks!

What is fastest programming language? ›

Go. Go, also known as Golang, is a programming language developed by Google. It compiles to Assembly like most of the other languages here, but it has more modern features, simpler syntax, and is easier to write than the long-time leader of fast programming languages, C/C++.

Which pays more Java or Python? ›

As per the 2021 Stack Overflow Survey, professional Java developers earn $51,888/year globally, whereas dedicated Python developers earn $59,454k/year globally.

Can a non IT person learn Java? ›

A simple question, but otherwise an important question for anybody who is never exposed to the Programming language. Would non-IT people capable of learning a programming language? Sure, you can.

What is the fastest backend language? ›

Python. This is the most used backend language in 2022. It is considered a fairly simple and fastest backend language to learn and use.

Are backend developers happy? ›

Back-End developers rate their happiness above average.

Is backend good career? ›

As far as job prospects go, it is competitive for back-end web developers, but you can rest easy that there will always be a demand for a back end web developer as long as your skills are up to scratch.

Do I need to be good at math to be a backend developer? ›

Back-end developers typically work with databases and code that interacts with them. As such, they need to be comfortable with basic algebra and geometry. In addition, they should be able to understand basic trigonometry and calculus.

Which is more in demand front end or backend? ›

As there are more backend languages than front-end, the jobs are also according to the technologies. There is a high demand for Java developers who use Springboot to develop backends.

Do front end developers make a lot of money? ›

As an entry-level frontend developer, you can expect to make $97,377 per year, according to Glassdoor. The lowest salary reported is $54K, and the highest is $176K per year. PayScale, on the other hand, reports lower numbers. Their average entry-level frontend developer salary is $61K per year.

Does front end developer pay well? ›

Front end Developer salary in India with less than 1 year of experience to 6 years ranges from ₹ 1.8 Lakhs to ₹ 12 Lakhs with an average annual salary of ₹ 4.2 Lakhs based on 12.7k salaries.

Do front end developers make a lot? ›

How Much Does a Front End Developer Make in US? The average salary for a Front End Developer in US is $108,911. The average additional cash compensation for a Front End Developer in US is $11,501. The average total compensation for a Front End Developer in US is $120,412.

What is backend job salary? ›

Backend Developer salary in India ranges between ₹ 2.0 Lakhs to ₹ 18.9 Lakhs with an average annual salary of ₹ 5.5 Lakhs.

Can you make 100k as a front end developer? ›

Software and web developers are well-paid professionals. Even entry-level positions can earn upwards of $60,000. After a few years of experience, the United States national average front-end developer salary can jump to around $100,000, depending on your level of education and location.

How long it takes to become a front end developer? ›

It doesn't matter if you have some experience, limited experience, or no experience at all; you can become a front end developer within six months. Generally, the best way to upskill within this span is to enroll in a part-time coding boot camp.

How long does it take to learn front end? ›

It takes approximately six months to learn front end web development under perfect conditions. Learning HTML tends to take about three weeks. You can receive comprehensive front end web development training through an in-person or live online course with Noble Desktop.

Is backend developer a good career? ›

With the likes of big tech giants such as Google and Apple clamoring to hire backend developers with high salaries, backend development is undoubtedly an exciting career path! A solid understanding of programming languages, algorithms, and other programming tools is necessary for a successful future in this field.

Is Java full stack in demand? ›

Java Full stack developer is the in-demand for the Software IT Industry. Today's tech companies need developers who just do not code but are also good solution architects, developers, testers, and designers.

What is the hardest thing about front-end development? ›

Browser compatibility, is by far the hardest part of being a front-end developer.

What do front end developers do daily? ›

A front end developer has one general responsibility: to ensure that website visitors can easily interact with the page. They do this through the combination of design, technology and programming to code a website's appearance, as well as taking care of debugging.

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