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If you're new to coding and software engineering, terms like front end, back end, and full-stack development may be confusing. When you see programming languages like Ruby on Rails and Javascript, your mind may race.

So, let's take a poll. Raise your hand if you've ever wondered, "What does it all mean?" "What is the distinction between front end and back end?" We understand because we were there once.

At Kenzie Academy, we believe that a career in technology is possible for anyone who is willing to learn and put in the effort to master the art of coding. So, let's clear up some of these technical terms. We'll explain the difference between front end and back end.

Today, we're debating the differences between development styles and answering the following questions:

  • What is front end development?
  • What is back end development?
  • How are front end and back end development different?
  • What is full-stack development?
  • What pays more, front end or back end?

To begin with, website development refers to the process of creating websites and applications. Web development, as opposed to UI UX Design, is more concerned with coding and ensuring that a website functions properly. It essentially refers to the usability of websites and apps. But where do terms like "front end" and "back end" come into play? Web development is divided into two types: front end development and back end development.

So let's get started and become acquainted with these web development styles!

What is front end development?

Front end developers design with the end user in mind. Front end development is a type of computer programming that focuses on the coding and creation of website elements and features that will be visible to the user. It is concerned with ensuring that the visual aspects of a website are functional. Consider the front end to be the "client side" of an application. Assume you're a front-end developer. This means that your job is to code and bring the visual elements of a website to life. You'd be more concerned with what a user sees when they visit a website or use an app. You'd also want to make sure the site is easy to use while also running smoothly.

These developers bring the visual designs created by UX and UI designers to life, ensuring that the website functions properly for the user. You could use your front end skills to create a static website, which is a website with fixed content that is delivered to a user's browser exactly as it is stored. If you come across a simple landing page or a small business website that does not allow users to perform any interactive tasks, you may come across a static website.

Front end developers create elements such as:

  • Buttons
  • Layouts
  • Navigation
  • Images
  • Graphics
  • Animations
  • Content organization

What is back end development?

Back end development is concerned with the side of the website that users do not see. It is what allows a website to be interactive. The back end of a website is also known as the "server side." Assume you're the owner of a social media website. You'll need a convenient location to keep all of your users' information. A database is a type of storage centre, and some popular examples include Oracle, SQL Server, and MySQL. Databases are accessed via a server, which is essentially a remote computer. A back end developer will assist in the management of this database as well as the site content stored on it. This ensures that your social media website's front end elements continue to function properly as users browse uploaded content and other user profiles.

While users do not directly interact with the back end of a website, they will interact with elements that these developers are working on via a front-end application. Back end development is concerned with storing and organising data while also ensuring that the front end works properly.

Back end web developers are responsible for tasks such as:

  • Building code
  • Troubleshooting and debugging web applications
  • Database management
  • Framework utilization

Front end vs. back end: what’s the difference?

"Front end vs. back end...the what's difference?" you may be wondering. Let's talk about the differences between the front and back ends now that you've gotten a sense of what they are. There are four major distinctions between front and back end development.

Front and back end developers work on different sides of a website

Front end development is a branch of programming that focuses on the visual elements of a website or app with which a user will interact (the client side). Back end development, on the other hand, focuses on the side of a website that users do not see (the server side). They collaborate to create a dynamic website that allows users to make purchases, use contact forms, and engage in any other interactive activities while browsing a site. Netflix, PayPal, Facebook, and the Kenzie Academy website you're currently on are all examples of dynamic websites.

Front and back end developers have different strengths

Different developers, according to RealMensch, have different strengths. However, it is critical to remember that one aspect of the development process is not more difficult or important than another. In fact, they're both crucial in developing a cool website that users will enjoy interacting with.

So what pays more, front end or back end?

There are differences in pay for people with different strengths. According to Glassdoor, mid-career front end developers earn an average annual salary of $76,929 in the United States. Meanwhile, mid-career back end developers in the United States earn an average of $101,619 per year.

Though there are differences in pay depending on whether you specialise as a front or back end developer, it all boils down to your individual talents, passions, and abilities. You may discover that you prefer one aspect of development over another. Instead of focusing solely on salary projections, when deciding between the two, consider which one provides you with the most fulfilment and satisfaction as a developer.

Front and back end developers work in different languages

You'll use a programming language when you're coding. These languages, like human languages, enable programmers to communicate with their computers through a series of symbols (referred to as code). Simply put, it's the same as giving your computer instructions. Front end developers use programming languages such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

  • HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language. It’s the standard markup language for creating webpages.
  • CSS is short for Cascading Style Sheets. While HTML is used to create structure on a site, CSS is used to bring style and flair. It defines a site’s colors, fonts, and the style of other site content.
  • JavaScript is a language that can be used to make a site interactive and fun. You can use it to run a game on your site, to name one example.

Front end also works in its own set of frameworks and libraries. Here are just a few of the frameworks and libraries a front end developer would work with:

  • AngularJS
  • React.js
  • jQuery
  • Sass

Back end developers work in languages like PHP, C++, Java, Ruby, Python, JavaScript, and Node.js. Here’s a bit more on a few of these languages:

  • PHP is a server-side scripting language.
  • Java is a highly popular platform and programming language.
  • Python is a general-purpose coding language. It’s different from some of the others we’ve mentioned here because it can be used for other kinds of software development and isn’t limited solely to web development.

Back end frameworks include:

  • Express
  • Django
  • Rails
  • Laravel
  • Spring

Front and back end developers work together to create awesome applications

While the two sides of web development have some similarities, it's easiest to think of them as sides of a cassette tape. They are both necessary components of the web development process for creating functional, visually appealing websites and applications. So, if you're thinking about becoming a web developer but aren't sure which side of the development tape you want to listen to, you could consider becoming a full stack developer. Full stack developers benefit from the best of both worlds because their work includes both front and back end elements. Every day is like getting to listen to the entire flipping cassette.

Front end vs. back end? Why not both?

If you want to work as a front end or back end developer, you should consider attending a coding bootcamp or technical school. Kenzie Academy provides a 12-month full-time Software Engineering programme that teaches students the skills necessary to succeed in both front end and back end development. You'll learn from industry professionals how to improve your tech skills, soft skills, and chances of getting hired. Students spend the first six months learning the ins and outs of front end development, followed by the second six months honing their skills in back end development. Here are some of the projects you'll be working on in Kenzie's Software Engineering programme:

Front End Skills:

  • Break apart interesting problems, as well as design engaging solutions.
  • Design, create, and modify static web pages that conform to HTML5 specifications.
  • Analyze the client-side performance of a webpage to better understand the consumer experience.
  • Imagine, create, and deploy interactive and mobile-friendly applications for the web using the latest web technologies, including HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript (ES6+), and React.
  • Pair those skills with back-end technologies like databases and Node.js, as well as developer tools like Bash, Git, and automated tests.
  • Understand how to effectively work and collaborate on a software project, and also how to interview confidently.

Back End Skills:

  • Level up with a second, popular programming language (Python 2 & 3), as well as its own most common web framework, Django. Also use language features like lists, sets, and dictionaries appropriately for simple algorithmic tasks.
  • Become adept at interacting with behind-the-scenes technologies, like databases and servers, and also at solving more complex sets of problems.
  • Identify and fix performance bottlenecks in a web application. Additionally, propose a viable fix to a specific bottleneck in a provided sample application.
  • Learn to make applications faster, more secure, more stable, and more capable.

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