Front-end vs Back-end

In your journey to becoming the best web professional you possibly can, there are terms you will have to fully understand and differentiate. Front-end and back-end are two terms at the top of the list of those terms.


When we discuss the “frontend” of the web, what we’re really talking about is the part of the web that you can see and interact with. The frontend usually consists of two parts: the design and frontend development.

The frontend is the part of a web site that you can see and interact with, while the backend is all the rest.

The frontend of a web site has specific technologies attached to it.

  • HTML makes up the text on the page
  • CSS makes it pretty
  • JavaScript makes it interactive.

All of these things happen in the browser.

Now to make all of this become a reality and to store the information that you capture in the frontend elements through forms, we need a technology to make it happen. Enter the backend…


The backend is everything that happens before it gets to your browser.

If you’re booking a flight, the back-end is where prices are checked, itineraries are booked, and credit cards are charged. A back-end can be very simple or very complicated.

A typical setup for a backend consist of;

  • A web server
  • An application
  • database.

The web server delivers a message to the application that you’d like to see all of the flights to London. The application looks up the flights in the database, puts together a web page that lists them, and sends that web page back to your computer through the web server. That’s all the backend. Once your computer gets a hold of it, it’s the frontend.

Because you don’t see the backend, programmers can swap out pieces of it without you the user ever knowing. For a while Twitter was powered by Ruby on Rails, but in 2011 switched over to Java. I’ll bet most people didn’t even notice this change!

Technologies use in the back-end;

  • Web server
    • Apache
    • Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS)
    • Sun Java System Web Server
  • Database
    • MySQL
    • Microsoft SQL Server
    • PostgreSQL
    • SQLite
    • Oracle
  • Scripting Language
    • Python
    • Ruby
    • PHP
    • Perl
    • ASP
  • Web Services.

Back-end Web Developer

Back-end web developers handle the heavy lifting, and the code they create acts similarly to a house’s foundation, frame, wiring and conduits. Back-end developers get the website’s framework set up, get the forms (anything that requires users to enter info) to function properly, and establish the databases (where any user-provided information is stored). They make sure your site plays nicely with others (like Facebook or Google maps) when integrating various Application Programing Interfaces (APIs). They create the Content Management Systems (CMS) that allow clients to easily add and edit content on their site without knowledge of HTML.

All together now!

WordPress is a good example of the frontend and backend working together because WordPress is an open-sourced framework built on PHP that you have to install on your server with a database. Designers then customize the look and functionality of WordPress sites using CSS, jQuery and JavaScript.


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