Different Types of Developers

Published on May 29, 2023

If you know someone that is a developer, you’ve probably heard them say they are a frontend or backend developer. You may have even heard them say they are a fullstack developer. But what does it all mean? What is the difference between frontend and backend? What is a fullstack developer? Or are they just making up words to sound cool?

In this post I will break them down for you and hopefully next time you hear someone say they are a frontend, backend or fullstack developer, you’ll know what they mean. I’m not presenting these as job titles because I believe that most, if not all, developer job titles ultimately fall under these three categories.

I’ll use a football (soccer) analogy to explain it seeing as my team, Manchester City, just won the Premier League (yes, again).

Frontend developers

According to our football analogy all the players on the field would be the frontend developers. They interact with the ball which is essentially the user interface and try to achieve some objective which would be scoring a goal and winning the game. Players pass, dribble, shoot, defend, etc.

All the actions they take are what, you, the spectator (user) sees. They create something that you will, hopefully, enjoy watching.

Backend developers

The manager and support staff would be the backend developers in this analogy. You don’t see them on the field playing, but they are critical to the team’s success. The manager is the one that comes up with the strategy and tactics regarding how to tackle different scenarios in the game and win the game. The support staff are the ones that make sure the players are fit and healthy to play the game.

Without the backend (managers and support staff) the frontend (players) would not be able to do their job and give you the best possible experience. Ultimately, it’s the teamwork of the manager, support staff and the players that makes the team successful.

Fullstack developers

Now that we know what frontend and backend developers are, what is a fullstack developer? Well, a fullstack developer is someone that can do both frontend and backend development. They can play on the field, and they can be the manager and support staff. They can create the user interface, and they can create the backend that powers the user interface.

They can basically do it all, albeit not every part as well as someone that does just one of them.

Sure, these are very simplified explanations of what frontend, backend and fullstack developers are, but I hope it helps you understand what they mean. I left out a lot of details (especially the technical ones), but I think this is a good starting point.