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Have you ever wondered what “full stack” actually means?

Software development is a broad industry with many  niches. These niches include back-end development, front-end development, full stack development, web development, database design, mobile development, and more. This article will help you understand the differences between these types.

Back-End Development

Back-End software development is development that focuses on the under layers of software. This means the servers, databases, and application that interface together. These are the pieces that people don’t see. For example, when you interface with this blog you see the front-end: the graphics, the responsiveness, the text. What’s underneath this blog is a PHP application called WordPress, which is tied to a MySQL database, and which is hosted on a server. The parts you don’t see is called “back-end”. Those who architect, develop, troubleshoot, maintain, and optimize those parts are back-end developers. Back-end languages are things like PHP, JavaScript, Java, and SQL variants.

Front-End Development

Front-end development is development that focuses on the parts of applications that users see. Those “front” layers that make things pretty and user-friendly, such as the graphics, menu organization, WordPress UI, and visual forms are all examples of the front-end design and development. Front-end tools are Photoshop, JavaScript, CSS, HTML, and jQuery.

Full Stack Development

Full stack development is the combination of front-end and back-end. Most projects require full stack development. For example, this website includes front-end and back-end. If a site was only front-end, no data could be saved for later uses because there’d be no database to store it in. Applications that are back-end only are unusable for everyone but developers and database admins.

Developers do best when they can specialize in either front-end or back-end development, rather than trying to master it all. This is why at SlideWave we’ve developed a complementary team of experts.

Mobile Development

Mobile development is simply full stack development designed for mobile hardware (phones and tablets). The applications must run on less processing power and smaller screen sizes, so mobile development is usually lightweight and optimized for speed. Graphics and UX are very important with mobile development also, making development harder, rather than easier, to execute effectively. Mobile development uses languages like Java (Android), HTML/CSS/JavaScript (cross-platform), and Swift (iPhone).

Is Full Stack Development Right for Your Project?

All projects require full stack development at some stage. It’s a matter of what degree of investment is required for each side. If you’re selling concert tickets, your back-end is going to be hugely important. Being able to quickly process transactions with extreme accuracy is huge. The front-end design may improve usability, but poor back-end development will break your business. For other businesses, the front-end design is paramount. If you have a website that showcases a photography portfolio, maybe you don’t need an optimized back-end.

The mistake that many make is under-pricing their project because they assume that what they see is the entirety of the development needed. A smooth shopping cart system may look easy, but the implementation, development, optimization, testing, and maintenance that goes into it isn’t easy or cheap. Understanding the entirety of what is at stake and what’s involved will help you budget and estimate more accurately.

How to Pick a Full Stack Developer or Development Team

As mentioned earlier, we recommend that you search for a full stack development team rather than a full stack developer. A team should include, at minimum:

  • a user experience/user interface (UX/UI) designer
  • a front-end developer who can write code in JavaScript/C#/Objective-C/Java (depending on the environment)
  • a back-end developer who can write code in NodeJS/C#/Java/SQL/PHP (depending on the environment)
  • if working with reporting: a database specialist who can optimize data warehouses, database design, performance, and reporting

The SlideWave LLC team contains front-end and back-end developers who each specialize in one area. For example, David specializes in C, C++, C#, JavaScript/jQuery, 3D algorithms, and back-end technologies. Another team member specializes in graphics, user experience, and front-end development. If you’re interested to see what the whole SlideWave full stack team can do for you, fill out the contact form and let’s talk.

SlideWave is an agile, full stack development team that focuses on high performance and complex software projects. Think 3D simulation, "soup to nuts" enterprise automation, and web-based applications. To learn more about us, click here.

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