The Habits of Front-End and Back-End Developers

DevToolsGuy / Friday, January 16, 2015

They’re the odd couples of development – the yin and yang, East and West, salt and pepper, fire and water.

Front-end and back-end developers differ significantly in their skills, preferences and personalities. It’s no wonder; they approach development from opposite sides of the equation.

Yet front-enders and back-enders need to collaborate to develop amazing apps, so let’s take a brief look at both to understand them better.

Let’s start with perspectives. The front-end developer creates what the user sees and touches, from design to typography to colors. The back-end developer works behind the scenes to build the infrastructure that makes a website operate and remain dynamic. Think of the front-end and back-end developers as car designers: one designs a car’s exterior and interior, while the other develops the body and what’s under the hood.

The front-ender is client-side, and more focused on what’s in the browser. Typical front-end job titles may include Web, UI or UX designer. The back-ender is server-side, dealing with databases, security and content management. They tend to be programmers or Web developers. 

In addition, their respective languages and tools differ. The front-end developer lives in a world of HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, JQuery and Bootstrap, while the back-ender’s forte is PHP, .Net, Ruby, Python and MySQL.

To use some tongue-in-cheek stereotypes, at a social gathering, the front-ender likely would be the life of the party – personable, creative, energetic, and extremely interested in his appearance. Frequently checking his iPhone 6, he might sport a witty T-shirt. On the other side of the room, the back-end habitué would chat quietly with a few people on the periphery. Feet on the ground, logical, and comfortable with complexity and detail, she would be playing Osmos HD on her Android and might wear a free T-shirt she picked up at the last Code Mash.

Recognize yourself? Even if you’re a full-stack developer, you probably lean in one direction – you might even see a bit of yourself in both types! No matter what side of the fence you fall on, the key to peaceful cohabitation is mutual understanding. Respect where your “opposite” is coming from so you can pool your strengths for the best end-product you can build. Your shared customers - and your company! - will appreciate the results. And who knows - you may learn something useful in the process!

Are you a front-end or back-end developer? How have you learned to work with your counterparts? Please share any amusing or informative stories in the comments below.