Ask 100 IT professionals for the definition of a full-stack developer and each would be different. There are simply too many ways this job can be defined, and because of this, they’re often combined and cause confusion amongst hiring managers and candidates. However, we are going to demystify the full-stack developer. Below you will find the full dissection of the “full-stack developer” including the difference between front and back-end skillsets, how to identify when you need one, and the best way to find great developers.
How Can I Identify A Full-Stack Developer On A Job Description Or Resume?
You may have looked through job descriptions or applications and wondered, what exactly IS a full-stack developer? What can they do? How can they positively affect my business? A quick search online leads you to the following: a full-stack developer is specialized in everything from front-end to back-end OR a developer who has a general knowledge in all steps from concept to finished product OR a fictional figure with a virtually unattainable skill set.
Does That Mean A Full-Stack Developer Isn’t Real?
If it’s unattainable, why do people advertise it? It’s because developers are more in demand now than ever. According to labor statistics: “Employment of web developers is projected to grow 13 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. Demand will be driven by the growing popularity of mobile devices and ecommerce.”
Obviously, a developer who knows how to take a project from concept to completion would be a valuable asset to any organization, but each company’s infrastructure has its own unique “stack.” A software stack can be defined by an operating system(linux, windows, apple), hardware(servers, computers, devices), programming language(compiled, interpreted, machine), server architecture(apache, nginx, Microsoft), and/or database language/api model (sql, postgres, graphQL). That’s a lot for one specialist to know, and even though a developer could be well-rounded in their “stack”, they’re more-than-likely going to serve as a generalist. The reality is that depending on your needs, you could really be searching for someone who’s more of a front-end or back-end developer.
What Is A Front-end Developer?
Additionally, a front-end developer must have a strong “design sense” or a good eye for design. Any good programmer can build a web application to perform a function, but a strong front-end developer will help determine not only if that function is necessary, but how it will affect the end-users’ experience.
What Is A Back-end Developer?
If you are looking to address larger, global issues in an application such as speed, data integrity, or security, you most likely need a back-end developer. Why? Because key issues are often systemic of issues in the backend foundation on which the entire system or application is built. So, what really makes up the back-end? It’s basically anything that’s happening on the web server, and not in the client’s web browser. That accounts for a lot! A few examples of this are interactions with the database, routing HTTP requests, and validating data sent from the client. Back-end development is much more logic-oriented and focused on ensuring the structural soundness of the application. A good back-end developer will consider the impact of the code they are writing on all pieces of the application and do their best to accommodate for future changes.
Back-end developers must be well-versed in back-end server languages such as PHP, Ruby, or Java, but will also require familiarity with an RDBMS such as MySQL, SQL Server, or Oracle DB. As with front-end development, there are many frameworks that back-end developers can leverage to seamlessly manage the structure of the application. Popular frameworks such as Ruby on Rails, Django, or Laravel come packaged with functionality that saves countless hours of development time. Back-end developers should have experience working within these frameworks, and, at minimum, exhibit the ability to adapt to one they have not previously used.
When Do I Need A Full-Stack Developer And How Can I Find One?
The full-stack developer is currently in demand, and most likely will be for the foreseeable future as the market continues to grow. Read further in a job description and/or application and you’ll find that even well-rounded developers who consider themselves “full-stack” have specific skill sets. Those skills may or may not be a match for the technologies used in your organization. The best advice is to do some research or hire a consultant to help outline the skills and system experience you need in a developer.
If you’re starting a new initiative or project, you may want to reach for someone who fits the description of a “full-stack developer” but remember you may need additional specialists with unique skillsets if the project is complex. Great recruiters are excellent at not only finding experienced full-stack developers but evaluating if you need to hire someone permanently or if a contractor is a better fit. A key benefit in using a recruiter to find these roles is they have the knowledge and experience to evaluate your needs and pair them with professionals they know have skills necessary.
If you have any further questions about working with recruiters or anything about the recruiting process, give us a call at 713-357-9565. We want to give unbiased answers to your questions, whether you choose to engage our help or not.