Front-End? Back-End? Full Stack? Where Do You Fit?

Front-End? Back-End? Full Stack? Where Do You Fit?

Websites are now one of the most important marketing tools for any thriving company. The people that build and maintain websites—web developers—never lack for work because trends and best practices are always changing. And companies are always updating their sites to keep them fresh.

There are three main roles you can play in the world of web development: front-end, back-end and full stack. Following is a breakdown of each role, and some guidelines to see where you might fit.

Front-End Developer

If you like art and science, this role may be for you. That’s because front-end developers design and code everything you see when you’re browsing the Internet—from fonts and colors to drop-down menus and sliders to buttons and boxes. Front-end developers use programming languages including HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to make the site’s interface easy on the eyes, and easy to use.

In addition to fluency in these programming languages, front-end developers should be familiar with frameworks like Bootstrap, Foundation, Backbone, AngularJS, and EmberJS, which ensure good-looking content no matter the device. They should also be familiar with libraries like jQuery and LESS, which package code into a more useful, time-saving form. Some job listings also request experience with Ajax, a JavaScript technique that lets pages dynamically load by downloading server data in the background.

Front-end developers often work closely with designers or user experience analysts to create mockups, or wireframes, from development to delivery. This partnership also ensures that design can actually be achieved using a coding solution.

Front-end developers are technical and visual. They’re able to leverage their creativity using technical tools to bring a website or app to life.

Back-End Developer

The front end of a website can’t exist without a solid technology backbone. Where will all the data be stored? How do you tie in the server, an application or a database?

A back-end developer builds and maintains the technology that powers these components, which together, enable the user-facing side of the website to exist. They make the site functional and secure.

Back-end developers use server-side languages including PHP, Ruby, Python, Java and .Net to build an application. They also use tools like MySQL, Oracle and SQL Server to find, save, or change data and serve it back to the user in front-end code.

Back-end developer job listings also call for experience with:

  • PHP frameworks like Zend, Symfony and CakePHP
  • Version control software like SVN, CVS or Git
  • Experience with Linux as a development and deployment system

Back-end developers use these technology tools to create or contribute to web applications through clean, portable, well-documented code. If you’ve got a logical and analytical personality, and love to solve problems creatively, there’s a pocket protector waiting for you in back-end development!

Full Stack Developer

Some companies can’t afford to pay both a front-end and a back-end developer, so they opt for a full stack developer. This role is a hybrid of both, and full stack developers are often jacks-of-all-trades. The role was made popular a few years ago by Facebook’s engineering department. Figures.

Here it is in a nutshell: A full stack developer can work cross-functionally on the full “stack” of technology (both front- and back-end). In fact, these pros offer the full package.

Full stack developers find more professional opportunities by working on both the server side and client side. They can fluently speak the front-end languages that control how content looks on the site, while also handling its more complex tasks:

  • Setting up and configuring Linux servers
  • Writing server-side APIs
  • Managing the client-side JavaScript powering an application
  • Turning a “design eye” to the CSS

A full stack developer would take a 360° approach to a web project—identifying client- and server-side responsibilities of a solution and articulating the pros and cons of various solutions. From load times to layouts to structure to interactivity, the full stack developer has a full plate, but is able to “do it all.”

Summing It Up

Regardless of which web development track you decide to pursue, all require common skills, such as the ability to learn quickly, attention to detail, solving problems efficiently and strong communication. Master these skills and the programming languages, and you’ll be master of the web development universe!

Ready to make your mark in web development? Visit KnowledgeNet and speak to one of our friendly Success Advisors about your training options.

Technology adopter. Doubles player. Pug lover. Martini drinker. Snow skier. And rabid reader.

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