Full Stack Developer 101 – What exactly is Full Stack developer ?

Typically when a job posting or job title uses the word “full-stack” they are referring to someone who has both “Frontend” and “Backend” Development knowledge. Taken more generally, it can refer to someone who knows how to handle everything from project management to installing the correct operating system on a server. In other words, it is a programmer who can deal with the complete implementation of a website.

Here we will discuss what full stack developers are.

What is a T-Shaped Developer?

Traditionally, organizations favored I-shaped developers – A short specialist that has honed a deep and pretty specific area of expertise.

Those developers, called I-Shaped developers, while experts in their area of knowledge and very productive, had a problem: Anything outside their stack was a no-man’s land.

A backend developer doesn’t understand how to do UX/UI properly, a frontend developer could not solve a deploying problem.

Every developer had a pretty strict skill set.

But then organizations noticed this and solved it with the T-Shaped developer model.

Now, besides having a defined area of expertise that goes deep in their field, they have a broad knowledge in other areas of expertise.

In this case, a tester knows everything he/she has to know to perform the job, but also understands UX design, can create unit tests, can perform basic DevOps operations, etc.

A full-stack web developer is an excellent example of this model as the developer has general knowledge across a wide breadth of technologies and platforms as well as in-depth experience and specialization in a couple of those concepts. For the most part, there are two general fields that make up a full-stack developer’s skill set: front-end development and back-end development.

What Is Front-End Web Development?

A dedicated front-end developer will be very experienced working with HTML and CSS as well as the scripting language, JavaScript. With these languages, the developer can very efficiently manipulate the information on a website to make it appealing and effective.

There are a lot of different jobs associated with the front-end. Keep in mind that a lot of these titles are subjective, so while front-end developers may mean something at one company, it can mean something completely different at another company. 

Here are a few examples of front-end job titles:

  • A Web Designer, you guessed it, designs websites. The job title of a web designer is pretty broad, though. A web designer could just be someone who designs the sites in a program like Photoshop or Fireworks and will never touch the code. But in another location, a web designer could do all the design comps in Photoshop, and then be responsible for creating all the HTML and CSS (and sometimes even JavaScript) to go along with it.

  • A User Interface (UI) Designer is basically a visual designer and is generally focused on design. They’re not usually involved in the implementation of the design, but they might know light HTML and CSS so they can communicate their ideas more effectively to the front-end developers.

  • User Experience (UX) designers work in the front-end, studying and researching how people use the sites. Then they make changes through a lot of testing.

  • A Front-End Developer or Designer can create a site without any back-end development. The site they would create without a web developer or using the back-end is a static site. A static site is something like a site for a restaurant or hair salon. It doesn’t require any information to be stored in a database. The pages will almost always stay the same unless it’s time for a redesign. A front-end developer may be required to have a grasp on testing, as well as be well versed in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. This person may or may not have experience with creating the design in a design program. A different version of this title is the front-end engineer. People who work with specific front-end languages like JavaScript developers are also considered front-end developers.

What Is Back-End Web Development?

Backend developers need to be proficient in programming languages that render on the server-side of a website or application. The most popular backend programming languages are PHP, Ruby, Python, Node.js, and Java. Typically a good backend developer will be a master at one of these languages, but familiar enough to code in a 2nd or 3rd programming language. Backend developers will also need to be proficient in working with databases like MySQL, Oracle, and SQL Server.

This means that a back-end developer must be able to write code to receive the information input from the user and also save it somewhere – like in a database. There are two main types of databases: relational (like PostgreSQL and MySQL) and non-relational management systems (like Mongo). The language used for database management is SQL, which helps the developer interact with the database.

Backend developers need to have critical thinking skills. A backend dev is often debugging code, as well as designing systems for how the user will interact with the website. Questions the backend dev should be able to answer: Where is data stored? Is it stored securely? If the site’s traffic 100x’s overnight, will the site be able to scale without crashing? How can I add a new feature to the website, without breaking the current functionality? How can I test a website (often on a staging platform, and/or running tests using test-driven development) so that the end-user experiences as few errors and bugs as possible.

What Is Full-Stack Web Development?

Full-stack developers are experts in both the front-end and back-end; so, the full stack of technology that makes up a website. They are proficient in both front-end and back-end languages and frameworks, as well as in server, network and hosting environments. To get to this breadth and depth of knowledge, most full-stack developers will have spent many years working in a variety of different roles. They also tend to be well-versed in both business logic and user experience, meaning they are not only well-equipped to get hands-on, but can also guide and consult on a strategy too.

Frameworks

Rather than having to develop complex proprietary code every time for creating different websites, frameworks have become popular resources to make many processes more efficient and convenient. Libraries like jQuery are extremely popular for front-end developers using Javascript, as they can implement various functions that other developers have already cultivated and tested.

Most software frameworks are characterized by a design philosophy called IoC (Inversion of Control). Normally, computer programs define a program’s flow of control and make calls to libraries for individual functions. When using a framework, however, the relationship is inverted: the framework manages the overall control flow and makes calls to the user’s code when needed. A framework allows the developer to focus on details specific to the project and bypass the more general requirements.

The main purpose of frameworks is to make a developer’s job easier by developing a set of conventions that can be adopted for many of the different processes involved in creating a website—from how information is displayed to how it is stored and accessed in the database.

Why Become A Full-Stack Web Developer?

It goes back to the value of being a T-shaped person. You are more valuable to a team when you are able to address and discuss both aspects of the web development process and bridge the disconnect. Moreover, as the industry evolves, you will also have to learn new technologies to make space to keep up with the trends. But having this much knowledge comes with a lot of benefits.

How To Become A Full-Stack Web Developer

You want to be a good developer, you want to go full-stack. Entering the web development industry is a relatively easy task today, but riding the information technology wave as a full stack developer is not everyone’s cup of tea.

Being a full-stack developer requires you to know about all the front-end technologies and all the back-end technologies.

The range of skills that a full-stack developer is expected to have means that those skills do not reach a level of proficiency required for one to be called an “expert”.

It takes both time and hard work. Learning technologies are a start, then the most important thing is to practice a lot of what you learn.

Popular Stacks

  • LAMP stack: JavaScript – Linux – Apache – MySQL – PHP
  • LEMP stack: JavaScript – Linux – Nginx – MySQL – PHP
  • MEAN stack: JavaScript – MongoDB – Express – AngularJS – Node.js
  • MERN stack: JavaScript – MongoDB – Express – React – Node.js
  • Django stack: JavaScript – Python – Django – MySQL
  • Ruby on Rails: JavaScript – Ruby – SQLite – Rails

Full Stack Developer Salary

KEYNOTES

  • A full-stack web developer is a technology expert who can work on both in the front end & back-end of any application.
  • The full-stack developer helps you to keep every part of the system running smoothly.
  • Skill sets required to become a full-stack developer are front-end technology, development languages, database, basic design ability, server, working with API and version control systems.
  • It’s all about constantly learning and getting as much experience as you can in both front and back-end development.

Full Stack Developer 101 – What exactly is Full Stack developer ?
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