Backend is a waste of time?

I hear that if you’re going to be a Front End Web Developer then it’s a waste of time even looking at backend stuff at all when you’re first learning. I also hear that full stack developers don’t necessarily make much more than a frontend or backend developer so why not just focus your attention on one side.

I’m just trying to see what others think about all this, I’m trying to go through Colt Steele’s Web Developer Bootcamp 2021 and JavaScript itself is already hard enough but then throwing all this backend stuff in there too is making my brain explode. I’m going to be going through freeCodeCamp after Colt’s course and don’t want to waste time on sections that won’t even be relevant for my first job.

Thoughts?

1 Like

It is like driving a car. You do not need to know what it is under the hood, but it can be helpful sometimes. You can still drive the car. But you may not be able to solve the customers problem, without knowing something about backends.

1 Like

I guess it depends on what you mean by “when you’re first learning”. If you don’t learn anything about backend development before trying to actually find a job, then you’re hamstringing yourself. If you just want to build personal projects, you might not need much, depending on what sort of project you’re interested in. If you’re still learning JavaScript though, just focus on learning JavaScript.

It’s not so much about making more (although I suspect that people who only have frontend knowledge do make less on average). The opportunities are much more limited. I say this as someone who spent 5 years working almost exclusively as a frontend developer (although I don’t know if I would have gotten those jobs if I hadn’t had a wider knowledge and experience). Separating engineers into “frontend” and “backend” is pretty old-school. In modern web development, there isn’t nearly as much separation as there used to be in both web and application development. Any company that has a NodeJS backend, is probably going to want its developers to do both client and server-side work. Many people do tend to specialize, but we do whatever work needs to be done. Even when companies are looking to hire someone with a lot of frontend experience, that’s often because their team is weak in that area rather than because they want someone who focuses exclusively in that area.

For some sections there is no way to know how relevant they will be to your first job. If you aren’t working on an application that does a lot of data visualization, you won’t be using D3. If your first job is at an Angular or Vue shop, you won’t use React. If your firt job has a Postrgres database, you won’t use Mongo. They will still be relevant because learning those things once means that learning similar things will be much easier.

You are going to need to have some arbitrary skills under your belt that you don’t directly use in your first job. You are going to need to learn other arbitrary skills at every job you take. The more you know, the more job offers you get and the more capable you are in those jobs.

3 Likes

I’m contributing here on FCC as a long-time developer hoping to do a bit to help people get into this great trade.

With respect, I couldn’t disagree more that “backend is a waste of time.”

Here’s why. We develop software to do things in the real world, and to share data between users. In web apps, the server – the back end – is where all that interaction happens.

Even if you decide to continue developing your skills and effort on front end development, understanding how your front end connects to the real world – how the servers work – will serve you well in your career.

The back end stuff is indeed complex. In fact, these days some server systems (big search engine systems for example) are too complex for anybody to understand. And even the simplest server systems have a lot of moving parts : databases, web services, security, scalability, reliability, all that stuff. Overwhelming sometimes? Yes! But doable? Yes.

You’re at the point in your training where you know this is complex. Keep going! You’ll have a good career!

4 Likes

It’s not always about what position pays more. Sometimes it’s just about being curious and wanting to know how things work.

2 Likes

Well there is a valid point to that view. Usually web developers start out with front end development. And, if you’re only starting to learn then I think it would be ridiculous to try to learn the backend at the same time. Usually, developers shift their focus to the backend after getting comfortable in the front end, and eventually become a fullstack developer.

That’s certainly how I did my developer journey. But this path is not suitable for everyone or in all situations. It depends on your job prospects, your preference, and the job market. Fullstack developers do a lot more work than frontend developers and if you go fullastack at the beginning of your career (like I did) then you are looking at joining startups and small businesses. Sure, they’ll pay you a little better than pure frontend or pure backend, but not by much. You will be overworked though, and overwhelmed as well because you’re still getting the work experience.

The other case where starting out as a fullstack is more feasible and less stressful is if you’re going to freelance. That where your collective knowledge of the frontend and the backend will come in handy and let you price yourself competitively.

That said, I think it’s good to focus on one area (frontend or backend) and get so good at it. It will allow you to work in bigger businesses and get enterprise level jobs that require specialized expertise. It’s always possible to shift to a different area later on.

In any case, I say get comfortable in the frontend and just have a basic understanding of how the backend works and why and when they are necessary. That should be enough to get you your first job.

1 Like

HI EVERYONE
if u want to be a Front End dev, it´s usseful know some of backen like js or frameworks for make the web looks more proffesional but don’t be mean to yourself go at your own pace.

I wouldn’t say its a “waste of time”, but it could be “not important for right now”.

If you have limited time to achieve your goals, focusing on the most important topics is important. Otherwise you end up learning a bunch of everything and not being able to focus on what you want to achieve.

If you want to be a front-end only dev, then yes focusing on front-end is probably more important that dabbling in the back-end.

However, its hard to ignore entire domains of knowledge in general, as everything is related. Its also possible your goals may change down the line where back-end topics become more important.

Stay flexible, stay focused, keep learning, keep building! :+1: