What Is the Difference Between Front-End and Back-End Development?

February 9, 2017 7:58 pm Published by
back-end development

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Front-end and back-end developers team up to create the systems necessary for an application or website to function properly.

The term “front-end” refers to the user interface, while “back-end” means the server, application and database that work behind the scenes to deliver information to the user.

The user enters a request from the interface and it is verified and communicated to the server, which pulls the necessary data from the database and sends it back to the user.

Let’s take a look at the difference between front-end and back-end development.


The front-end is built using a combination of technologies such as Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), HTML5 — the latest version of HTML, JavaScript and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).

Front-end developers design and construct the user experience elements on the web page or app including buttons, menus, pages, links, graphics and more.

  • HTML – Hypertext Markup Language is the core of a website, providing the overall design and functionality. The most recent version was released in fall of 2014 and is known as HTML5. The updated version has improved features to handle audio and video presentation.
  • CSS – Cascading style sheets give developers a flexible, precise way to create attractive, interactive website designs.
  • JavaScript – This event-based language is useful for creating dynamic elements on static HTML webpages. It allows developers to access elements separate from the main HTML page, as well as respond to server-side events.

Front-end developers also use frameworks such as Angular, Ember, Backbone, Foundation or React to communicate with back-end systems.

Also called client-side development, one of the main challenges of front-end development is the rapid pace of change in the tools, techniques and technologies used to create the user experience for applications and websites.

The seemingly simple goal of creating a clear, easy-to-follow user interface is difficult due to the wide variety of mobile device and computer screen resolutions and sizes.


The backend, also called the server side, consists of the server which provides data on request, the application which channels it and the database which organizes the information.

For example, if you purchase a pair of shoes from a website, you are interacting with the front end. After you select the item you want, put it in the shopping cart and authorize the purchase, the information is kept inside the database which resides on the server.

There are enterprise-level databases like Oracle, Teradata, Microsoft SQL Server, IBM DB2, EnterpriseDB and SAP Sybase ASE, as well as other popular databases including MySQL, NoSQL and PostgreSQL.

A few days later when you check on the status of your delivery, the server pulls the relevant information, updates it with tracking data and presents it to you through the front end.

There are a wide variety of frameworks and languages used to code the application, such as Ruby on Rails, Java, C++/C/C#, Python and PHP.

Back-end programmers must have experience in creating applications that can find and deliver data to the front end.

Recently, there has been an increase in the use of Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS) providers who specialize in this task, which is especially useful when you are developing mobile apps.


The development of both the back- and front-end systems has become so specialized, it’s most common for a single developer to work on only one.

However, at times a custom software development company will have developers who are proficient with both sides, known as a full stack developer.

They are valuable because they see the big picture and can suggest ways to optimize the process or remove roadblocks that might be slowing down the system.

To find out which database and framework to use on your next project, read our article on “What is the Best Front-End/Back-End Combo for an Enterprise App.”

If you’re looking for a full-stack development team, contact Concepta today.

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