One concept that confuses many beginners interested in learning to code is the distinction between front end and back end programming.

In this post I’ll outline the main differences between the two, and how to decide which is right for you.

Understanding the Difference between Front End and Back End Programming Languages

Front End Languages

front end programming languagesThe term front end refers to languages and frameworks that deal with client-side applications.

Basically, you might think of these languages as the languages that represent the user experience side of the equation.

While recent years have seen increasingly complex programming logic going into javascript applications, in general front end languages do not carry a lot of “heavy lifting.”

They’re not concerned with how data is stored or results calculated, and instead focus on how that information is delivered and presented to a user.

Because of this, front end languages, as a whole, tend to involve less complex math and focus more on incorporating design elements into web-applications.

Back End Languages

backend programming languagesBack end languages, on the other hand, form the backbone of the more complex programming processes.

This includes everything from data encryption and storage to detailed mathematical calculations and analysis.

In general, back end languages will get a request from the front end language, perform the task, and then return the solution or other deliverable back to the front end language.

Which Is Right For You

Choosing which side to focus on is an important decision, since it will largely determine the direction you take with your programming career or hobby.

Back end languages tend to have a higher barrier to entry, and require more time to learn and master. They focus more on mathematics and algorithms to accomplish their purpose, and require a desire to focus on algorithmic problem solving.

Front end languages, on the other hand, tend not to require complex math. While you can (and will) implement algorithms using Javascript, in general the front end programmer focuses more on the implementation of design and user experience. You need a detailed eye regarding how graphics and information are presented.

There is no one right answer, and the overwhelming majority of development teams have individuals that specialize in each field, since there’s an inevitable need for a seamless integration between the two.

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