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Backend vs Frontend vs Full-Stack?

Which one are you: backend, frontend or full-stack developer?

I've been a developer for the past 10 years, and along this time, I came in contact with many developers who cannot answer this question for one reason or another.

Clearly, a full-stack developer is much more appreciated than the rest for the obvious reason that a full-stack dev can do both backend and frontend, which makes them more appreciated by their employer and by their colleagues.

But I came to realize that most of the devs I worked with had a preference: either backend or frontend. Also, you gotta be better, even if slightly, at one more than the other.

Long ago, I realized that I preferred backend over frontend, which wasn't a surprise since my "main" languages were PHP and Python, although I used JavaScript since the beginning of my career.

Sadly, till this day I see a lot of full-stack jobs (such as Laravel/Vue.js).

backend vs frontend vs FullStack percentages

As you see, the backend and full-stack percentages are almost identical, because it is a common misconception that "if you can do the backend part then how hard is it to also do a bit of JS/HTML/CSS (frontend) to finish up the application/task?"

backend vs frontend vs FullStack

This picture explains it very well:
Backend: kitchen
Backend Devs: chefs, sous-chefs
Frontend: the restaurant hall, tables, chairs..
Frontend Devs: waiters, manager, receptionist, cleaners..
Full-Stack: Fast food truck
Full-Stack Devs: Fast food truck operator (drives it, cleans it, prepares food, greets customer, serves food, gets paid, gives back change!)

So next time an employer offers you a Full-Stack job, remember this picture.

Personally, I'm pushing towards the dismantle of Full-Stack mentality. In my last 10 interviews throughout the last couple of years, I pushed for the segregation of backend from frontend (reminds me of the SOLID principles I). I managed to do backend with a TINY bit frontend in my current gig, and I am pushing currently with couple of future employers with the same result.

I implore you all, if you agree with me, then let's push employers to understand, that backend and frontend are different things and need to be done by different people. Some companies understood this, mostly big companies. But the medium and even smaller ones need to adapt this mentality as well.

In case you enjoy Full-Stack development, then ignore this article :)

Discussion (1)

andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden

I started as a frontend developer then I started to notice that on job boards companies were looking for Polyglot developers more often. So I ended up learning backend development even though at the time it barely interested me. I did not like databases at all and it just felt boring and complicated.

But that all changed when I learned NodeJS and made my first CRUD app. Now I enjoy backend as much as I do frontend and databases no longer scare me 😂