People commonly use the terms frontend and backend in describing Web development. While frontend and backend development are quite different from each other, they are interdependent, and both play important roles in Web development. In this article, I’ll describe in detail the differences between frontend and backend development and explain what they are.
What Is Frontend Development?
The frontend, or client-side, refers to the part of a Web application or site that runs in a Web browser—the part that users can see and experience. It typically includes buttons, menus, and navigation bars and comprehends everything else with which the user can interact.
The frontend aspect of computer programming relates to the creation of features and user-interface elements for a Web application or site. The developer’s main objectives for the frontend are to create a Web application or site that has good performance and is highly responsive.
If you are a frontend developer, you must bring to life the visual aspects of the Web application or site and make sure they are fully functional. Your job is to create an interactive and smooth-running Web application or site. As a frontend developer, you implement the user-interface design, structure, content, and behavior of Web applications, Web sites, or mobile apps. Endeavor to make sure they appear the same on all devices, regardless of the size of the device.
What Are the Frontend Languages?
The following frontend languages are foundational to all Web applications and sites:
HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is a language that combines markup and hypertext. The markup language describes the text on a page, while the hypertext provides links between Web pages. HTML is the core of a Web application or site and provides the basis for its structure and functionality. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) periodically updates HTML, and every new version comes with additional tools to make it more interoperable. The current version is HTML 5.
CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) control the look of an interactive Web application or site and determine the way the browser displays HTML or XML elements. They determine the structure and layout of Web pages. The current version is CSS 3.
What Is a Frontend Framework?
A frontend framework is a platform on which you can build the frontend of your Web application or site. Frameworks provide ready-made user-interface blocks and reusable code that helps developers implement a Web application or site more efficiently and consistently. Frontend frameworks make the development process both easier and quicker. There are many popular frontend frameworks, including the following:
React—Initially, the Facebook team developed React to help them create and change code easily. Later, it became an open-source framework. It is an easy-to-learn, easy-to-use language and is perfect for developing mobile-friendly Web sites. If you want to build an interactive Web site in a short period of time, React is a wonderful choice because of its reusable components.
Angular—Google originally released Angular in 2010. Since then, its development team has delivered many updated versions. Angular is an open-source framework and is free to use. It is perfect for developing single-page Web applications. Angular was designed to overcome the hurdles found with other frameworks. Because it offers directives, it is one of the best options for creating frontend user interfaces.
jQuery—One of the older frameworks, it was developed more than two decades ago, in 2006. Although it is old, it is still one of the most popular frameworks. You can easily develop a Web site with jQuery because there is no need to write extensive code. It is not only a simple framework but also an easy-to-deploy framework. You can easily add components.
Ember JS—This framework is similar to Angular in many ways, but it is one of the toughest frameworks to use. Nevertheless, it is a favorite of developers because of its two-way data binding feature. Large companies such as LinkedIn and Apple use Ember JS. Its older and newer versions are compatible with one another. However, because of its complexity, this framework is not suitable for small apps.
Flutter—Google manages Flutter, another open-source framework, which is helpful in creating high-performing, attractive mobile apps. You can create cross-platform apps with Flutter. It is not only the best choice for building a great user interface but also for powerful backend applications. Flutter offers both ready-to-use and customizable widgets, thus, developers prefer this framework.
What Is Backend Development?
The backend refers to the hidden parts of a Web application or site that users cannot see—the code. It comprehends all the functionality that users can access digitally. Just as the frontend is the client-side, the backend is the server-side. Its main functions are to store, manage, and structure data and ensure that the client-side works without any glitches. It is also called the data-access layer. The backend is the code that runs on the server. It consists of a combination of applications, databases, and servers.
Backend development focuses on the development of server-side functionality. It involves coming up with solutions that meet the business goals for the Web application or site. As a backend developer, you are responsible for building an application’s structure. Just as with frontend development, backend development involves many tools and languages. A backend developer requires skills relating to databases, servers, backend languages, and APIs (application-programming languages). The main tasks of backend development are database management, coding and debugging applications, framework utilization, and troubleshooting.
What Are the Backend Languages?
Typical backend languages include the following:
Python—This is one of the most popular languages in use by large companies such as Google, Uber, Spotify, and Mozilla because it offers many advantages, including a large collection of code libraries. Many developers prefer Python because its libraries make their work easier. Moreover, this language is easy to understand in comparison to other backend languages. Python also offers many other benefits such as code readability, portability, and GUI-programming support.
Ruby—This open-source programming language is similar to Python in terms of its excellent prototyping capabilities. Using it does not require extensive coding, and developers can create code quickly. Moreover, the language gives priority to conventions rather than configuration so developers don’t have to waste time with configuration files. Instead they can start the development process right away. Ruby is a simple, but highly productive language. Companies such as Airbnb use Ruby as their backend language.
Java—A survey concluded that Java is the most popular programming language in the world. It is popular because it is secure, convenient, and easy. Java also has cross-platform capabilities. The main benefit of Java is this principle: Write once. Run anywhere. You can use your compiled Java code on any platform, without making any changes. Moreover, Java supports multithreading and offers rich libraries. Companies such as LinkedIn, Amazon, and Flipkart use Java for their backend development.
PHP—This open-source, very secure, backend language is both one of the most successful and the most popular languages. PHP is simple and easy to learn. It is useful for building landing pages and WordPress Web sites easily, as well as for creating large Web sites such as Facebook. This language is also the right choice for beginners. Large companies such as Facebook, Wikipedia, and Tumblr use PHP for their backend development.
Node.js—This open-source, backend language has the largest developer community and code library—despite its being a new language. This language is very effective and highly performant because it runs in a single process. There is no need to create a new thread for each request. Moreover, you can use code from other developers. You can create two-way connection Web sites that enable free data exchange. Node.js is helpful for rapid, straightforward, backend development.
What Are Backend Frameworks?
Backend frameworks are the foundations that help developers to develop Web applications more quickly and in a more standardized way. They can save you time and are robust, secure, and scalable. There are many backend frameworks. Here is a list of a few popular frameworks:
Django—This is one of the best backend, Web-development frameworks. It helps in reducing the amount of coding you must do so enables rapid development. This framework is a wonderful choice for feature-rich, data-driven Web sites and ensures maximum security. Moreover, it is scalable and versatile. So it is no wonder that this framework is very popular.
Ruby on Rails—This is a Ruby-based backend framework. It is also called Rails and is a Model-View-Controller (MVC) framework for developing both Web pages and Web services. Ruby on Rails is time-efficient, cost-effective, consistent, and scalable. Its MVC architecture separates code based on its function. Moreover, it gives precedence to convention over configuration. Testing is simple with Rails.
Flask—This Python-based backend framework does not require any special tools or libraries and provides support for extensions. You can add features that give the impression they were implemented in Flask. Its main advantages are flexibility, optimal performance, and its modular nature. Its key features are WSGI (Web Server Gateway Interface) compliance, integrated unit testing, and debugger functions. Moreover, Flask is Google app-engine friendly. It is also helpful in creating secure cookies.
Spring Boot—This is also an open-source application framework. You can use the core features of this framework for Java applications. Using Spring Boot doesn’t require boilerplate code. It lets you customize the properties of applications very easily. Banner customization is one of its most important features. Developers prefer Spring Boot because it supports lazy initialization. If you want to utilize your fluent builder API, this framework is the best option.
What Are the Main Differences Between Frontend and Backend Development?
As you can see, frontend development is very different from backend development. Moreover, they require different languages and frameworks. Now, let’s consider the main differences between the two.
What—The frontend is the part of a Web application or site that the clients can see, while the backend is the part that users cannot see. The frontend is client-side, while the backend is server-side.
Why—Both frontend and backend development play a significant role in Web-application and Web-site development. However, they play different roles. The frontend is about the visual aspects of the Web site, while the backend is about everything that happens in the background and makes the frontend Web experience more functional.
Who—What programmers should choose frontend development versus backend development? Programmers who love to work with data should opt for backend development, while those who love to create wonderful visual designs and amazing user experiences should opt for frontend development. Of course, if you like doing both, you can choose full-stack development.
Essentials—The essentials of backend and frontend development are different. The languages and frameworks are different. Only a few provide support for both.
Together, frontend and backend development provide the basis for a functioning Web application or site. However, they are different from each other in many ways. Frontend development is all about what the user sees and interacts with. On the other hand, backend development is all about making everything work. Nevertheless, it is clear that they are like the two sides of a coin. They are inseparable and interdependent.