Have you ever been on a website and wondered how does all this happen? How does the click of a button lead to a different web page? How am I able to chat with my friends on a website? How am I able to listen to music and watch videos? All of these features you take for granted are thanks to the work of talentedly skilled people called developers.
For those of us who don’t have much (or any 😅) experience with codes, programming languages, and computers in general, websites seem like an enigma – mysterious, puzzling, and difficult to understand. To be fair, websites are an enigma, even for the most talented developers at times, but that’s part of the fun. 😜
In the world of web developers, there are three different (but intertwined) kinds of roles – front-end, back-end, and full-stack. Firstly, we’ll talk about front-end and back-end, and then finish off with full-stack developers.
Looking at the Bigger Picture of Web Development
Before we dive into the specifics of what each role comprises of, we’re going to look at the bigger picture with a metaphor. Front-end and back-end developers are a tad bit different, but have their own respective similarities. In fact, there are some connected responsibilities between the two.
Let’s visualize it with a simple metaphor. Imagine your head. Yup, you heard that right.
If we’re looking at your head, then your face is the front-end because it’s the part of your head that interacts and communicates with people and the outside world around you. And if your face is the front-end, then your brain is the back-end because that’s where all the information you receive from your surroundings is stored and sent from.
Makes much more sense now, right? You’re welcome. 😉
Now, a little bit more into the specifics of what front-end entails. Front-end developers create the code for the things on the website (or application) that you see – hence, why it’s called the client-side of things. You’re referred to as the client and everything that you see and interact with is created by the front-end developers.
These front-end developers are responsible for everything that you see and play with when you’re navigating around the Internet. If you see it, they code it – fonts, colours, banners, dropdown menus, sliders, and more! In fact, they’re the ones who take the design and code it to create a functioning website. Talk about skills!
Back-end developers are slightly different than front-end developers. Unlike front-end developers, their work is primarily focused on the things that you can’t actually see in the browser, like the database and server – hence, why they’re called the server-side of things. Their responsibilities involve a strong focus on data as they need to be able to work across several databases and servers from different service providers.
While front-end and back-end developers constantly need to be able to work together in a mutually supportive relationship, back-end developers work with front-end developers specifically to make their code work within the website and over all front-end.
The key programming languages back-end developers use are PHP, Ruby, and Python.
Full-stack developers are responsible for the entire flow and experience on a website from its design, responsiveness, interactivity, structural composition, loading time, and more. That’s quite a load of work for one developer – and it is. But full-stack developers don’t necessarily work on all the functions and components on their own, they just have the experience and fluidity to be able to so they can get their hands dirty wherever they’re needed. Flexibility is a full-stack developer’s middle name. 😜
Now that you know about the different types of developers, are any of you motivated to become one yourself? 😜