People used to say it's "better"/"Make more money" to do back-end programming (PHP, asp.net) instead of front-end(HTML, javascript) for web development.

But I notice that HTML5, CSS3, WebGL, Javascript are gaining importance. We can even use HTML5, CSS3 and JAVASCRIPT for building mobile web applications(For both iphone/android) and even Windows 8 applications in the future!

Does it mean new web developers should now focus on front-end development instead of server-side development?

  • is client side data storage and database considered as backend or frontend?
    – Sufendy
    Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 4:06
  • Maybe it's just me, but I don't consider PHP/ASP.NET to be "back end", it's still front end as far as I can see. Back end development is like servers, databases, batch processing and so on. Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 9:03
  • 1
    In order to predict the future of web development, we need a substantial up-front cash payment.
    – S.Lott
    Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 9:49

6 Answers 6


I think it's a function of the way software works: You are trying to design an interface that lets the user do the most with the least amount of effort/clicks. So for each user action, you're going to have more (and more and more) action being performed by the system.

The logical extension is that there will always be more "back-end" programming than "front-end" programming. That's only speaking to domain logic. Add to that things like plumbing and the like and you're even more heavily weighed in on the back-end.

To directly answer your question:

A pretty UI without logic behind it is useless, and fantastic logic with a terrible UI is user-less, so both are absolutely necessary in any successful application, but I don't think that new developers should feel forced to up their design skills and designers shouldn't feel forced to up their programming skills.

People should keep doing whichever they're good at; if that happens to be both, then you're one of the lucky few.


As someone who specializes in front-end development I can say that there is still a lot more work for people on the server-side. I do agree that front-end development is becoming more "real" (ie. real programming, instead of just laying out static HTML) but it is still not as big an area for developers.

On the other hand, if you really know programming well then you can really spin heads because front-end developers are so frequently web designers who picked up some JavaScript along the way. Like, I recently wrote a bitstream implementation in JavaScript in order to load some 3D models to display in WebGL, and that is way outside the comfort zone of your average front-end developer.


I feel that there is still a massive need for both. I am 100% a developer. I'm horrible at front-end design. (It took me 40-50 minutes just to properly align, code the CSS, and restructure HTML to display 3 extra "social" buttons on my site.) Give me a good project in PHP and I'm in. However, both skill sets have a need in the industry. @SnOrfus already said this.

Personally, I feel that I'd make more money in server-side "backend" coding (That's mostly what my current job is...) because that's what I'm good at. I'm improving my skills at CSS & JavaScript because being the only technical person on the entire staff for the company requires my having knowledge in both.

My advice is to go with what you are good at, but understand and know the basics of the "other" side if possible. And as you learn more, you can better decide where "more money" is based for yourself. If you happen to get a job as I have, where you alone are responsible for maintaining the front end and back end, you'll most definitely have to learn both.

Front end will not survive with out back end, and back end (PHP, etc.) will not survive without front end. They go hand in hand.


Desktop web applications spend 85 percent of their loading time in the front-end code. Mobile apps spend 97 percent in the front-end.


Extrapolating from that you can say that purely for performance reasons back-end developers will be forced to care about the front-end as well.


Well, I feel that server side development will still be viewed as being a more valuable skill just because it is harder to initially pick up for most people in comparison to front end development. Since these new technologies have not rendered the power of PHP/asp.net obsolete, they are still highly valuable and worth focusing on.

That said I believe a web developer should have both front AND back end knowledge instead of purely focusing on one.


You need to know both. Where would you even know where to start if you didn't know how a database worked? If you don't know how your end customer will view your data then your just spitting out UN-imaginitive code that will be clunky to use.

HTML5/CSS3 : Learn it, its literally how the world views information

Javascript/Jquery: Learn it, Its how the world interacts with information

PHP/MYSQL: Learn it: Its how the world puts information places

I do primarily front end work: which is nothing like it was 2 years ago (we live in exciting times) Honestly though with node.js and the way UX/UI has developed over the last 5 years (from nothing to really putting a focus on the user) the lines are so blurred its hard to figure out which side is up.

Learn the trinity, they were built to communicate with one another! (well not technically, but put enough duct tape on anything and you have yourself a house :)

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