The Difference Between Front-end and Back-end Development

By: Dalton Mankin  | 07/03/2018

There exist countless metaphors to describe the differences between the front-end and back-end development when building websites. But, a single sentence can sum up the differences nicely: Front-end development is what you see and back-end development is what you don't.


What is Front-end?

The front-end of the website is what you see and interact with. It's the menu page of a restaurant. It's the contact us form of a new business. It's the shopping cart of a boutique. Front-end Developers use three main tools: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Each of these technologies serves a different purpose to a Front-End Developer. HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) is a formatted document of text and links. It's used to define the content and structure of a website.

A website can be plain HTML, but would look boring. That's where CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) comes in. Applying CSS gives the content style and presentation. With HTML and CSS, you can display content and make it pleasing to the user, but you still can't interact with it. JavaScript is a programming language that fixes that.

By utilizing JavaScript, developers can create fun and engaging user experiences. Fancy forms and validation, drag and drop interfaces, responding to a user's input without refreshing the page are all things you can do with JavaScript.

What is Back-End?

The back-end of a website powers a lot of what you see on the front-end. Two parts make up the back-end of a website: the database and the application.

The database stores all sorts of information for the website, like a giant spreadsheet. Page content, form fills, user login information, and tons more gets stored in the database. The application works as the middle-man between the database and the front-end.

The application is going to be what takes items, such as form fills, and stores it in the database. Or, it takes content from the database and makes it easier to use by the front-end. For example, the database could hold records of every product available for sale. Then, it's up to the application to get the relevant products to display in a search query a user is performing.

Sometimes the lines blur between front-end and back-end and can be more complicated. The important thing to note is that while they are different and distinct, both are necessary to make a website accessible, user-friendly and engaging.



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