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Discussion on: Backend or Frontend First?

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John Lehew

Front end first can work if the developer checks the schema that is generated but most devs I’ve seen never check and accept whatever is generated. Even if they checked, many do not have the experience needed to properly evaluate the schema generated. This in combination with the fact that tools do not always refactor the database schema and data correctly lead to bad designs and lost data.

The method I follow after designing 16 systems from scratch in my career consists of iterating over the the back end design, the api calls, and high fidelity mockups with the users until users agree with each other and the design stabilizes. The backend, api, and front end must be continually reviewed and kept in sync with requested changes by both the users and senior dev team members. Once the design stabilizes it becomes a guide and the system is built using agile principles. It is critical to understand that the original design is not a contract, it is a guide. This process educates the team on the business processes, clarifies the language everyone uses to describe system functionality, and refines the core design of the system.