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The Ultimate Tech Multitasker: Demystifying the Role of a Full-Stack Engineer

You've probably heard the term full stack engineer while exploring the tech industry or in your coding courses. But what does this title actually mean? If you are searching for answers, you are in the right place! This article will provide a comprehensive overview of full stack engineers, what they do, and their position in the tech industry.

What is a Full Stack Engineer?

Full Stack Engineers are sophisticated developers who have the expertise and mastery in straddling two separate web development domains: the front-end and the back-end.

What is the front end of the website? Everything a site viewer can see and interact with. Imagine going through a website, from all the drop-down menus and sliders to the fonts and colors- everything combines HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. In contrast, the back end, where the internal architecture of the website is stored: consists of a server, an application, and a database. The website user does not interact with this realm directly. Coding the back-end powers those components, enabling the user-facing side of the website. 

A full stack engineer is thoroughly involved in all stages of software development- from architectural design, performance evaluation, code review, internal tool management, and troubleshooting issues with functionality.

Full Stack Engineers vs. Other Software Engineers

In 2008, the term "full stack" was first used by Randy Schmidt, managing director of Burns & McDonnell Terminals and Pipelines. He used the term to describe web developers equipped with designing, styling, and programming. During the early days of the web, when websites were not complicated and easy to handle by a single person, these “full stack” developers tackled every aspect of site-building. They had a boundless sense of curiosity- the need to understand the how and why behind each functionality.

Over the decades, the web has grown more complex. The rise of machine learning, predictive computing, and responsive design has made it more challenging for a full stack software engineer to handle every aspect of designing a website or a mobile application. Currently, businesses rely on entire teams of developers to manage enormous databases, operate network equipment, and work with virtual machines. 

Modern developers are highly versatile software professionals who have the expertise to build a specific part of an application or website. They can work independently or as part of a team- as front-end or back-end developers. These days businesses value them for their quick ability to build a minimal product with enough functionality. At the same time, full stack engineers spot errors and tackle tasks that straddle both ends.

According to the 2020 Stack Overflow survey, 65,000 developers state that roughly 54.9% are full stack software engineers compared to 55.2% back-end developers and 37.1% as front-end developers—proving that full stack software engineers are still in demand. (Multiple selections were allowed in that survey.) Full stack engineers work with much more prominent and complicated websites with a higher salary than other software engineers. 

What is Full Stack Development?

Full stack development is launching a website from start to finish, including designing, creating, testing, and deploying the site. It requires full stack software engineers to understand all the tools and technologies involved in front-end and back-end development. Let us take you through the skills required to be a full stack developer.

Front End Development 

The front end involves the graphical user interface (GUI) that users see and interact with. It is where the users access the features and functions of the website or software. The front end runs on the user's machine, a mobile phone, or a laptop instead of being hosted on a remote server. 

These are a few languages used in front-end development: 

  • HTML is the most basic language used to structure web page content. 
  • CSS is the language that helps to build sophisticated layouts- used mainly for styling the web page.
  • JavaScript, the most famous of all the languages, comes in handy to create dynamic content on the web page and add interactivity with the users.

Once familiar with the language, choosing the proper framework for your project is also crucial. These are some of the most popular frameworks you can use:

  • Angular is used broadly in larger projects due to its feature-rich quality.
  • Vue is used for smaller projects as it is lightweight and easy to use.
  • React is the most popular choice as it is the easiest to learn and use.

Lastly, the library choice is also essential to supplement your development process. Some of the libraries are- Lodash, Axios, and Moment.js

Back End Development 

The responsibility of back-end software is to manage and coordinate the activities of the server. Ensuring the server is up and running, and all the different components function correctly. Hence, it is an integral part of any website application. 

Apache HTTP, Nginx, and Microsoft IIS are some of the most popular software programs. They handle server's side tasks such as hosting web pages, taking user requests, and sending responses. 

Plenty of back-end languages include Java, PHP, Python, and Ruby, which are among the most popular server software languages. 

  • PHP- is fit for small projects with more straightforward functionality. 
  • Java is a good choice for larger projects with complex functionality. 
  • Python is great if your project involves extreme data processing. 
  • Ruby is compatible if you require a lot of user interaction. 

Back-end frameworks and libraries include Laravel, Ruby on Rails, and Node.js. Each has its benefits and drawbacks; therefore, evaluate your needs carefully before choosing a framework or library for your project. 

Full Stack JavaScript

The coding world's universal language is JavaScript, which is used across all software layers- front-end or back-end. A person who can apply it in both front-end and back-end programming is called a JavaScript full stack developer. Such specialist engineers are in high demand for web development. 

According to Talent.com, the average annual pay for a Full Stack JavaScript Developer in the US is $115,003 per year. The entry-level positions pay as much as $95,076 annually, while experienced workers can make $150,000 annually or more.

Companies such as Airbnb, Netflix, PayPal, and Groupon have adopted the full stack JavaScript approach, which speaks for the importance of this language. Moreover, small startups have also started to enjoy using it since it's a common language with many benefits.

The time is now to make your mark as a full stack developer! What are you waiting for? Sign up with BloomTech full stack web developer program to consider your educational opportunities and pursue a career in full stack development today!