Which Is Harder, Front End Or Back End?

This is becoming a bit of an age-old question. What type of development is more difficult? The traditional answer has been that back-end software development is more difficult than front-end development, but that view has changed quickly over the last ten years.

What is front-end development?

Front-end development is building graphical user interfaces or interfaces that end users interact with. Traditionally desktop user interfaces were probably not included in front-end development, but I think they probably should be nowadays due to the complexity of these interfaces. Front-end development could be summed up into three main uses, web development, desktop user interface development and mobile application user interface development. Front-end development is typically programmed in JavaScript or TypeScript.

What is back-end development?

Bernd dittrich d 3EKbSg1tg unsplashBack-end development is the programming that runs the business logic of an application. Code that relates to everything else except what the user sees is considered back-end development. Some examples of back-end development are writing API endpoints, handling database queries or building models representing your application. This is typically done in languages like C#, Java or C/C++.

Where does DevOps fit into front-end or back-end development?

DevOps is the part of software development where development meets operations. A very high-level view of DevOps is the automation and deployment of software. Building pipelines that automate the building, testing and deploying of applications to different environments is the crux of a good DevOps structure. Because you can test front-end and back-end applications (in very different ways) and build and package both front-end and back-end applications, DevOps is part of both types of development.Quinten de graaf L4gN0aeaPY4 unsplash

Why was back-end development seen as more difficult than front-end?

Back-end development is considered the original form of programming. In the days before the internet was a true force and dedicated profession, many languages like C and C++ were used to create applications. These languages are seen as far more technical and difficult to work with than that JavaScript, especially for beginner developers. This has been shown over the last ten years as JavaScript has remained at the top of most used languages by professional developers. This is not by accident, JavaScript is a far more beginner-friendly language than C, but building complex applications with JavaScript can be as difficult as building applications in C or C++.

The ease of learning JavaScript for beginner developers is a big reason back-end development was seen as more difficult than front-end development.

Why is front-end development becoming more difficult than it used to be?

Front-end development is progressing rapidly, and the number of ways to build front-end applications is also increasing rapidly. In the initial boom of web development, the only tools available to developers were HTML, CSS and JS. Fast forward to modern-day front-end development, and you are faced with several frameworks and libraries. Even knowing one technology in depth would only be a small part of the overall front-end development spectrum.

stackoverflow logoFor example, React, Node and View are the most wanted web frameworks/libraries developers want to work with. This is according to the Stack Overflow 2022 developer survey. But even knowing these technologies is a drop in the ocean when discussing variants of web frameworks.

Just looking at the wanted web framework technologies for developers, you can see that there are still many other popular technologies that developers want to learn or use, like:

  • Next.js
  • Svelte
  • Django
  • Angular
  • Deno
  • FastAPI
  • Express
  • Blazor
  • Nuxt.js
  • ASP.NET Core
  • Flask
  • Angular

The other expectation that comes with front-end development is a base level of design knowledge. For most front-end developer roles, the developer will need to be aware of design choices in colour schemes, layouts and responsive design. This is all regardless of the library/framework they are working with. Having a good baseline knowledge of design adds a lot of required knowledge to any front-end developer role.

Package management in front-end development

NpmlogoAs front-end applications have become more fully fledged in their own right, they have adopted the third-party package dependency issues that are part of traditional back-end applications. Dependency managers, such as NPM (Node Package Manager), have helped front-end developers quickly build complex applications. But this speed of adding third-party packages to applications has come at a cost. This cost is in managing those dependencies for security purposes, licensing and compatibility issues with other dependencies. Navigating these issues can become extremely complex in large systems, much like this can happen to back-end applications. This is again another reason why front-end development is increasing in complexity from the early days of front-end development, where HTML, CSS and JavaScript were enough to put together a basic application.


Whilst front-end development has become more difficult over the past decade, it is not necessarily more difficult than back-end development. Still, it is more closely seen as on par in terms of difficulty nowadays. This rise in difficulty is a combination of the increased number of frameworks and technologies needed to create a user interface and the need to use package managers to build these applications. In modern software engineering, front-end development is now considered as its discipline and not just part of any engineering tasks.

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