Front-end vs Back-end

August 14, 2018

We can differentiate between front-end and back-end development easily by understanding that web designers focus on the design, typography, colors, etc. (front-end development), while web programmers focus on back-end development using specific languages (MySQL, PHP, other database languages, etc). Front-end = what you see; back-end = how it works.


These days, front-end development refers to the part of the web users interact with. In the past, web development consisted of people who worked with Photoshop and those who could code HTML and CSS. Now, developers need a handle of programs like Photoshop and coding in not only in HTML and CSS, but also JavaScript or jQuery (a compiled library of JavaScript).

Websites combine HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, all controlled by the browser. For example, if you use Google Chrome or Firefox, the browser translates all of the code in a manner for you to see and interact with, such as fonts, colors, drop-down menus, sliders, forms, etc. In order for all of this to work, though, something has to support the front-end; here the backend comes into play.


In a previous blog, we talked about how web programmers are concerned with launching websites, updates, and maintenance, among other things. All of that works to support the front-end of the website. The back-end has three parts to it: server, application, and database.

To better explain, let’s use the example of a customer trying to purchase a plane ticket using a website. Everything that the customer sees on the webpage is the front-end. However, once the customer enters all of their information (ie. their name, billing address, destination, etc), the web application stores the information in a database that was created previously on the server where the website is calling for information.

The web application creates, deletes, changes, renames, etc items in the database. For example, when a customer purchases a ticket, that creates an item in the database, but when they change their order or they wish to cancel, they change the item in the database.

A server, in the simplest form, is a computer accessed remotely that runs software to fulfill requests from clients. In our example, the server the customer’s browser is communicating with is where the database is stored and modified.

When a customer wants to buy a ticket, the backend operation web application communicates with the server to make a change in a database stored on said server. Backend programmers use technologies like Java, PHP, Ruby, Python, and others to make this communication work smoothly, allowing the customer to purchase his or her ticket with ease.

What’s your preference?

Many of these technologies relate to eachother. They all work together to make something work. Some developers can program for both front-end and back-end. However, it takes much more time to design while programming the back-end. It all depends on the project and what technologies and skills are needed where.

Which do you prefer? Does front-end development with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript interest you more? Or do you see yourself as a back-end champion tackling technologies like PHP, Python, and Ruby? Whichever your choice, you can learn how to use these programming languages in Codeup. Our classes focus on Java and client-side JavaScript; This leaves room for our graduates to decide whether they would like to pursue front-end or back-end development.

For the next blog, we will talk about being a full stack developer and what that entails.Interested in learning in becoming a software developer? Give us a call at (210) 802-7289 or contact us here!