Have you ever wondered how many websites there are in the world now? Almost 2 billion. (Yes, only 200 million are active, but that is the subject for another article). Who is responsible for all this? Right, web developers.
Today, as our society migrates online, websites are an essential part of modern life, not to mention modern business, where they are vital. Technology evolves, web trends and practices change like the seasons, but we can still define two kinds of professionals that make the web work – front-end and back-end developers.
WHAT IS A FRONT-END DEVELOPER?
The front-end is about how we see and interact with the website. Layout, fonts, colors, transitions, active buttons and sliders are all parts of the front-end. The person who is responsible for user-facing code and user experiences is a Front-end developer.
SKILLS AND TOOLS REQUIRED FOR FRONT-END DEVELOPMENT
Front-end craftsmanship is based on three whales:
HTML is the formatting language used for creating web-pages. Basically, it consists of two things: 1) the content and 2) the tags formatting the content as a layout.
CSS is short for Cascading Style Sheets. It’s a styling language, simple enough to stylize HTML components.
Frameworks front-end devs are better be keen on:
Frameworks are needed to make sure that content looks great no matter what device you are surfing from.
Libraries that are used in front-end development to package all the code into something compact and useful:
But if you think that the front-end developer is the only person working on a visual aspect of the website – you are wrong. Copywriters write texts, photographers take photos, designers propose style and User Experience specialists provide wireframes.
And only then does a front-end dev come in, using all his tools and programming skills, to make the site work.
Of course, these fields are often intersected, when senior front-end developers have their say on user experience, design solutions and other related aspects. Thus, we approach another important duty of a front-end dev – communication with other teams and professionals to clearly see goals, needs and opportunities of the website before it comes alive in all its glory.
Metaphorically speaking, a front-end developer is like an interior designer working on space planning, style and décor of the house that is built by a back-end developer.
WHAT IS A BACK-END DEVELOPER?
So, how does a website work? What is its backbone? Where is all of its data stored?
And the answers are: a server, an application, and a database. And a back-end developer whose job is to build, assemble and keep these technologies aligned allowing for the very existence of a website.
SKILLS AND TOOLS REQUIRED FOR BACK-END DEVELOPMENT
Programming languages that back-end devs use to build an application are:
Tools enabling devs to find, store and manipulate data to convert it into the front-end code:
- SQL Server.
Frameworks allowing to work with PHP:
Also, job listings for back-end developers are often speckled with requirements of Linux knowledge as well as version control software like SVN, CVS, or Git.
Clean, portable, well-packaged back-end code is the result of the proper use of all the above-mentioned tools. But this is only a part of a back-end dev’s job. Another important part is working with stakeholders.
Before they get to the code, devs need to understand stakeholders' expectations, translate them into technical requirements and roll out the most effective architecture solution for the given project.
KEY DIFFERENCES BETWEEN FRONT-END AND BACK-END DEVELOPERS:
- Front-end developers are working on the visual side of a website, while back-end developers are responsible for the server-side including databases, scripting, and architecture.
- Frontend developers create the website’s look and feel based on user experience and enhance it after numerous tests. Back-end developers design a front-end application and provide its stability, security, and management.
- One of the main challenges of front-end developers is seamless website navigation and accessibility from both mobile and desktop devices. On the other hand, back-end devs job is to power front-end with the application running in a stable and error free manner.
- Common front-end tools are jQuery and HTML5, whereas backend development is mostly based on MySQL and PHP.
- Front-end craftsmanship is judged on the design and UI/UX of a website, while back-end developers' superpowers are effective algorithms and system solutions.