Frontend and Backend
Last modified on Fri 05 Jul 2024

One of the most common definitions of Frontend (abbrev. FE) vs. Backend (abbrev. BE) difference is frontend is what you see and interact with, and the backend is what you can’t see, a place where all the data lives and various operations are performed.

Frontend development

Or client-side development, refers to the creation of graphical user interfaces (abbrev. GUI) of a web or mobile application. Frontend organizes, animates, and ultimately decides how data is displayed, and what needs to happen when a user interacts with it. Frontend essentially translates various raw data into human readable format, and translates interactions back to backend in machine readable format.

This can be an application on a mobile device, a desktop application, or a website. While these are the most common products we test, there are plenty of other applications that utilize client-side apps these days, for example a smartwatch or even a fridge. Various frameworks and systems are utilized to do frontend development. Most prominent technology is JavaScript. Alongside HTML and CSS, JavaScript is used on more than 98% of all websites.

Various frameworks were developed to improve JavaScript development, e.g. React and Angular. These became so prominent web developers often distinguish themselves as React developers, or Angular developers.

Another example is WordPress, a Content Management System (CMS), originally a blogging platform, evolved with its simplicity and ease of use, today used as a platform of choice for 40%+ of small websites to enterprise e-commerce webshops.

Backend development

Or server-side development, is the engine behind the user interfaces. Server-side infrastructure encompasses various servers, databases, and server-side applications that power the frontend. It’s in charge of storing, managing and providing data, performing various tasks and calculations, and determining decisions that impact the frontend.

The backend primarily ensures the delivery of data and services, typically through an application programming interface (API). An API is like a common language between systems and services, that allow various applications to communicate with each other and transport data.

Common languages and frameworks used in backend development include Python (with Django), Ruby (with Ruby on Rails), PHP (with Laravel), Java (with Spring), and C# (.NET Framework).

In addition to languages and frameworks, BE development also involves working with databases (Database Management Systems). Some popular databases include MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, and Oracle.

Although commonly backend lives on the internet somewhere, it’s possible to have a backend system locally on your machine, especially during development, but more on this later.


Frontend is the face of a given product, a way for us to see and manage data in a user-friendly way, while Backend is the workhorse of a product, providing and actually storing data, performing complex operations on powerful machines.

A frontend application lives inside a client (a smart phone, a browser, a fridge) while the backend lives on the server, allowing the frontend to be fast and lightweight, while leveraging the backend for complex data management and computing.