Career: Frontend vs Backend

jahanzaib profile image Jahanzaib ・1 min read

I am coming from a web development background with a mix of frontend (not an advanced one, mostly writing markup+css+custom js) and backend development (lamp stack, CMS[Drupal, Wordpress, Joomla]). Now i am doing Java EE development, working with web services (SOAP, REST) and some other stuff like DevOps.

I receive, as most developers, a lot of job offers, interviews, etc...but they differ as sometimes they see my profile and offer me a frontend position and other times they ask me to come as a backend dev (i assume by seeing my current position).

I just don't get my head around this issue of deciding between the two sides: i have some personal inclination towards the frontend but i am finding interesting backend too and cannot choose between the two.

What is your view on this issue? Seeing the market, the future of the current technologies and by your personal experience how would you manage to decide on this issue?

How have you decided your career, your job? Did the job chose you or made a rational decision about it?

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Not so experienced to give advice but if you like your actual position why would you care about the job offers?😂
If you would like to perform in frontend you can also start a personal project on a subject that really motivates you. It can help you to make a choice while practicing. And if you really like both, full stack developer is also a very good career choice 😉


I like my current position but i feel i am missing something; not doing much frontend and i fear that i will loose my experience if i stop using it in daily work.

Working on a personal project is a good suggestion, time permitting :)


Though I don't have an extensive amount of experience, I'm with you on feeling like my brain is split between the two roles. While I enjoy both sides equally, it seems like I receive more acknowledgment and job offers for front-end work. Not really sure why though.


I think because it's more easy to demonstrate your abilities on the Frontend immediately even to somebody not so technical (like the HR people).

On the other hand when you talk about backend experience is more like you have to express in words your experience and with a portfolio of backend work you can talk what tools you have used.

Maybe staying in the middle is not that bad but i am kinda jealous of those who are specialized in one area, they have to focus only on that piece of cake.


That's very true, I hadn't thought of it like that.

I also agree that there are definitely benefits to being exclusively focused on one side in a professional sense. Though I feel like doing a bit of both allows me to offset the expected frustrations of the backend work with the more meditative frontend/design stuff.


Why not have both?

I'm on my second job as a full-stack web developer right now, and for the time being I don't want to have it any other way. When I do only backend, I get bored. When I do only frontend, I get bored.

My personal experience and that of my friends' is that in a small company or small project, it is very hard to avoid doing frontend if you're hired as a backend developer. Teams are usually very small, with max. 1 dedicated front-end developer. The amount of front-end work fluctuates, so in times where there is more than usual, other people do it too.


we usually don't have small teams but i am trying to keep myself active on both sides.


I think that it is good that you are spending time considering your career the way you are. That being said the sign of great developers is building in the ability to make decisions as late as possible - when you have the most knowledge.

Whilst it is good to try and pick work that is exciting or that with that align with your ethics, you'll eventually find that most places have issues that you might eventually grow too weary of. It is good to keep and eye on your own wellbeing as well as that of the place/people you're working for.

I've been a 'full-stack' web developer for close to 15 years with some other stuff before that. The whole idea of being a frontend developer is reasonably new I think because the web has a lot of very poor developers and very poor development practices - as well as the startup mentality that comes with it. It is difficult to keep up and develop strong solutions on the front end because the deployment platform is still so varied! On the backend I get to make choices but on the frontend the choice is up to the consumer. This, I believe, has lead to a very immature area on the frontend.

App development suffered from this and continues to do so because it is such a new area with changing tools and languages. Even companies the size of Facebook suffered from terrible code structure and had deep structural issues in their mobile apps - amongst others.

Back to the point though ... I would just focus on being a good developer and learning the stuff that everybody should know. Patterns, refactoringings, transformations, SOLID, and so on - they're all extremely important especially in an immature area like front end development. These skills will almost never become unimportant and transitioning from a good Python/Ruby/.NET/whatever developer to front end might require some new, weird skills like CSS and webpack, etc, but what I've found when learning React and Redux for instance is that after a short while you'll be teaching the people that taught you.

React is pretty great but the patterns people used initially sucked hard because it was so new and noobs were jumping in to set the tone. Now you see patterns out there that have been established in other areas for decades. Ruby and Rails were much the same where the first 3-4 years were the wild west and then mature developers joined and the product was much better and set patterns that are still widely adopted and used. It's become quite stable. The frontend is still in too much flux to make good calls on what it will look like, but I think it is safe to say it'll be around a while.

So TLDR; keep focussing on core skills these will allow you to postpone choice until later. I don't think frontend is going away as it is sneaking into mobile apps now as well and for all the lamentations lately I don't see the web going away any time soon either.


thanks for your thoughts.