Front End vs. Back End: What's the Difference?

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Last updated on
25th Nov, 2022
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08th Apr, 2022
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Front End vs. Back End: What's the Difference?

There are numerous aspirants who want to become web developers due to the opportunities in the field of web development. So, it is important for developers to understand the concept of two significant terms - Front-end and Back-end development. In this article, we have given the relevant information on both the web development terms and what are the main differences between the two to clear out the dilemma.  

We are also going to look into the various technologies that one should learn to become a successful Front-end, Back-end developer or full stack engineer. We will also learn that full stack developer skills include both the front-end and back-end parts. They can build entire applications and are in high demand at small start-ups. So, without further ado, let us get started with the head-to-head comparison of front end vs back end web development and the differentiation between these technologies. In case you are wondering how to learn these skills enroll in the full stack engineer course to figure out the front-end and back end developer career paths.

An Overview on Front-End Development

Front-end development is all about building great user experiences. Astounding websites like Apple and Amazon have been made by none other than skilled front-end developers and designers. In most cases, the designer creates a mock-up, which is basically an image file, and gives it to the front-end developer. After receiving the file, the developer creates the structure of the site using HTML (HyperText Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). 

The functionality, like pop-ups and clicking of buttons and other tasks, is added using JavaScript. The web has gone through a major change since web applications like Facebook came into the picture in 2005. Before that, basic websites were made with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, but with time even desktop apps started to convert into web apps.  

To have these major functionalities, JavaScript was not enough, and AngularJS was released in 2010. It was instantly a hit, adopted in the industry and used to create the front-end of even enterprise software. AngularJS was followed by ReactJS, and it has become more popular than Angular in recent times, and its growth is going on. We also have another JavaScript library called VueJS, which is also used in front-end development.  

An Overview on Back-End Development

Back-end development is a major part of a web app. All major web apps like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter need to store various user data like their user credentials, the posts they create, and their engagement activities. And once users log in, they all need to be shown other users' posts on their walls. All of these are stored in the databases, but they are served by REST endpoints. These endpoints are also called API endpoints, and there are various frameworks to code them.  

These endpoints interact with the databases and are written in all major programming languages. Spring Boot is the framework in Java that is used to create these API endpoints. Similarly, we have NodeJS in JavaScript. Then we have the frameworks of Django and Flask in Python. We also have the Laravel framework in PHP and Ruby on Rails for Ruby. 

Technologies Used for Front-End Development

The structure of a website is written in HTML, the style is added with CSS, and functionalities are added using JavaScript. Before the age of web-apps started in 2010, only these three were used to create interactive websites along with some medium-level web-apps. Two other things that were very popular at that time were j-Quey and Bootstrap. 

Today, jQuery is used to create complex JavaScript tasks, and there are many small plugins built by open-source developers to add functionalities. For instance, there are many awesome sliders built in jQuery which can be directly used on websites.  

CSS and its libraries such as Bootstrap comes into play in modern front-end development. It has an easy-to-use grid system and easy-to-use components like cards and carousels to name a few. 

JavaScript frameworks like Angular and ReactJS have enhanced the capabilities of frontend developers in building robust web apps that too at a faster pace. These have become the heart and soul of medium-to-large scale web apps due to their collaboration capabilities and modularity. 

Most front-end today is written in ReactJS, Angular, and the latest kid on the block, VueJS. These have their own learning curve but are a must to get a front-end developer job in any company, from start-ups to enterprises to MAANG.  

Technologies Used for Back-End Development

The hottest and most demanded backend framework is NodeJS, which is a framework for JavaScript. Other popular frameworks are Django and Flask from Python, Laravel from PHP, and Ruby on Rails from Ruby.  

Let us have a look at front-end vs back-end languages. 

TechnologyFront EndBack End
HTMLUsed to Create the Structure of the SiteNot Used
CSSUsed to give Styling to the SiteNot Used
JavaScriptUsed as Vanilla JavaScript, ReactJS, Angular or VueJS to create web-appsUsed as NodeJS, to create backend Functionality including API endpoints.
JavaNot UsedUsed as Spring Boot to create API end point
PythonNot UsedUsed as Django or Flask to create API end points
MongoDBNot UsedUsed to store data of web-app

The main functionality of a web-app comes from the backend. All web-apps, including the popular ones like Facebook and LinkedIn, have a log-in and register functionality. Now, the user credentials are stored in the database, which is developed by a backend developer. The databases are broadly divided into relational databases like Oracle and MySQL and No-SQL databases like MongoDB. The creation of the schema and structure of the database is the responsibility of a backend developer.  

API acts as the bridge between the front end and the database. The API endpoints help the frontend interact with the database and is executed using REST API, the most used API. The most popular REST APIs are GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE.  

For example,  

  • GET is used to get all the data from the endpoint, which in turn gets it from the database.  
  • POST API is used to send something to the database and in-turn store it.  
  • The DELETE is used to delete something from the database, like deleting a post from Facebook.  
  • The PUT is used to edit something and store the updated thing in a database. 

What Are Some Front-End Developer Jobs?

  • Website developers

Many of the available developer jobs involve building small, static websites for clients. These jobs only require HTML and CSS skills, and little to no JavaScript experience is required. WordPress is another tool used to create these types of sites, and small agencies use it. WordPress comes with in-built templates and plugins, but HTML and CSS need to be customized.  

  • ReactJS developers

This is the most in-demand skill right now. ReactJS is backed by a huge developer community that facilitates easy troubleshooting. This is an open-source project, created and maintained by Facebook. Each component of the project using React is divided into parts, and developers can work independently on each.  

  • Angular developers 

It was the first JavaScript framework to be released, and it changed the web app development scene forever. That is why enterprise projects go on for years, so Angular developers are also in high demand. Angular is a complete framework, and you do not need to rely on third-party npm modules like ReactJS. But that adds to its complexities also. It takes around ~15 days to learn ReactJS for a JavaScript developer, but it will take ~2 months to learn Angular.  

  • VueJS developers

It was released last in the list of JavaScript frameworks/libraries by Evan You, who used to work at Google. The VueJS learning curve is also ridiculously small, and it takes the best features from both Angular and ReactJS. That is one of the reasons it is used in start-ups a lot. It also has a backup from Alibaba, which uses it heavily for internal systems.  

Although the designers are also a major part of the front end of the team, they are not considered front-end developers. Most of the designers are highly creative people, and many of them come from art schools. These are the four front-end developer jobs currently available at companies. If you're interested in web development, one of the easiest ways to get started is to take a Web Development course. 

What Are Some of the Back-End Developer Jobs

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. The second most in-demand backend job is that of a NodeJS developer, as it is easy to learn in comparison with Java, and a ReactJS front end developer can pick up this skill very easily.  

A lot of freelance projects are done in Django and Flask, which are backend frameworks for Python. The demand for Django/Flask developers is also growing. The demand for.NET developers is still high because a lot of enterprise software are built with .NET on the backend and Angular on the front end.  

Other backend developer jobs included developers in Ruby on Rails and PHP. Here is a list of job roles in both technologies. 

S.No.Front End developer JobBack End developer Job
1Web-site developerJava developer
2ReactJS developerNodeJS developer
3VueJS developerDjango/Flask developer
4Angular developerPHP developer

Frontend Development Tools

A front-end developer tool includes good light weight editor like VS CodeAtom, or Sublime Text. Out of these, VS Code is used a lot, because of the active development being done by Microsoft for it. All of these are completely free to use.  

Besides this, front-end developers also use Postman to do the API calls without a front end. The backend engineers generally give the API through Postman.

Backend Development Tools

Backend developers use tools as per their development language. If you use Java and .NET, you will need tools like Eclipse or Visual Studio. But languages like NodeJS need light-weight editors like VS Code. Most of the databases nowadays are on the cloud, so the backend engineers need to have cloud computing skills as well. 

A backend engineer should also have knowledge of version control system of git. Whether you use git or some other tool, you should know most of the commands. Backend engineers should also have a fair bit of knowledge of package managers like npm or yarn. Nowadays, most projects work through a lot of small packages, created by open-source developers. So, backend engineers use these tools on a regular basis.  

Besides these, the build automation tools of Maven and Gradle are also used by backend engineers on a regular basis.  

For local development, they use the local GUI (Graphical User Interface) version of Oracle, or MongoDB, and other databases. Backend engineers heavily use Postman because the backend development is done in parallel to front-end development. Postman allows you to test APIs with front-end code.  

Here is the list of front end developer vs back end developer Tools.

S.No.Front End developer ToolsBack End developer Tools
1VS Code, Atom, Sublime TextVisual Studio, Eclipse
2Chore, Firefox, Brave browsersOracle/MongoDB GUI
3PostmanPostman

Frontend Skills

One of the major front-end skills, whether you work on a small website or a big web-app, is converting the designs given by the designer into pixel-perfect sites. To do that, the developer uses HTML and CSS. For some small or enterprise projects, CSS frameworks like Bootstrap and Tailwind are used because they are easy to implement. Modern layout of CSS Flexbox and CSS Grid is used for bigger and more professional-looking sites.  

Today, the major front-end skill is creating the front end of a web-app using JavaScript frameworks or libraries like Angular, ReactJS, or VueJS. These are required to create complex web apps where a lot of interaction is required with the backend. As all of them are JavaScript frameworks, a good knowledge of JavaScript is required before going for these frameworks.  

Backend Skills

The backend skills require knowledge of the database and the framework used to interact with the database. The most common way to interact with a database is to create REST APIs, and all major languages have frameworks. So, the backend developer needs to master these languages before moving to the framework. For instance, to create APIs in SpringBoot, you need to learn Java first or to create APIs in NodeJS, you need to know JavaScript well.  

Besides these, a backend engineer should also be exceptionally good at problem-solving. They also need to have a knowledge of data structures and algorithms in the underlying language. Most of the time, performance is a required criteria for backend APIs, and in these cases, the code needs to be optimised with data structure and algorithm knowledge. 

Frontend and Backend Developer Salary

Backend developers are paid more than front-end developers because most of the logic and heavy lifting of a web app is done in the backend. The average mid-level salary of front-end developers is $76,000 in the US, and the average mid-level salary of back-end developers is $101,000 annually.

Bonus - Who Is a Full-Stack Developer?

A full-stack developer is a developer who knows both the front-end and back-end. They are in high demand, especially in start-ups, because they can create whole web-apps. An engineer aspiring to be a full-stack developer should know the current skill trends and constantly upskill. 

The MERN developer is one of the most in-demand full-stack developer. It stands for MongoDB, Express, ReactJS, and NodeJS. Because NodeJS and ReactJS are both JavaScript frameworks, this stack is the simplest to learn because you can apply your JavaScript skills. MongoDB is the No-SQL database here, which is based on JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) and so it is easier to pick.  

You can become a full-stack developer in 3-6 months with the awesome full-stack engineer course by KnowledgeHut. 

Besides this, people with knowledge of ReactJS on the front end development, Java (Spring-boot) on the backend and SQL Server for databases are also in high demand. This is a tough stack to master because you need to master both Java and JavaScript, and it is used for exceptionally large enterprise and customer-facing projects. Java is still the most superior language for backends because of multi-threading. It can handle loads of a million requests per second, where other backend languages and frameworks fail.  

Another popular stack is Angular on the front end, .NET on the backend, and SQL Server for the database. It is the most difficult stack to master, because of the learning curve of Angular and.NET. You can learn about all of the web-development courses from KnowledgeHut.  

Full-Stack Developer Skills and Salaries

A full-stack developer possesses skills that are a combination of bank end and front-end developer skills. Aside from that, the full-stack developer should understand the entire requirement for designing the web app. The mid-level salaries of full-stack developers are $111,000 annually in the US.

Conclusion

In this article, we have learned about the difference between front-end and back-end. We got a brief overview of front-end development and back-end development as well. 

We learned about the various technologies used in front-end development like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and jQuery. We also observed that the front-end has evolved to JavaScript frameworks and libraries like Angular, ReactJS, and VueJS.  After that we have learnt about the vast number of frameworks from all major languages used in back-end development. We have also learnt about the various databases being used in the backend.  

We discussed about the various skills required for the front-end and back-end development. We have also had a sneak peek into the average salary for full stack developer (mid-level back-end developer versus a front-end developer). Lastly, we learnt about full-stack developers, their skills and the three different development stacks that are in high demand. We hope this article does the job of differentiating between frontend and backed.  

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

1. What is better front end or back end or Full Stack?

Full-stack engineers are in high demand in early-stage startups, where one person needs to wear many hats. A front-end engineer needs to have good CSS skills along with programming skills in JavaScript and any of its frameworks or libraries.  

Backend engineers need to optimise the code, so that the API calls are fast. They also need to know a fair bit about databases. Both the technologies attract professionals equally well.

2. What is the difference between a front-end developer and a back-end developer and a full-stack developer?

The front-end developer works on the design given by the designers and converts it to HTML and CSS.  

A backend developer creates those APIs in any programming language and also creates the connection between the backend language and the database.  

A full-stack developer knows both the front end and back end and can create the complete application.  

3. What are full stack skills?

Full stack skills are skills required to develop the complete web-app. It includes creating the frontend in JavaScript/React/Angular/Vue and the backend in any of the languages. 

4. What do full-stack developers do?

Full-stack developers combine their knowledge of front-end and back-end to create fully functional web-apps.

5. Is full stack development a skill?

Full stack development is a skill that is in high demand. With this skill, a person can develop the complete web-app.

Profile

Nabendu Biswas

Author

Nabendu Biswas is a Full Stack JavaScript Developer, who has been working in the IT industry for the past 16 years and has worked for world’s top development firms, and Investment banks. He is a passionate tech blogger. He is also a tech youtuber and loves to teach people JavaScript. He is also an Apress author with three Gatsby books published.