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What does a full-stack developer do?

Thinking about a career in full-stack development? We spoke with Taylor, a technology consultant and full-stack software developer at RightNow Media, to find out more about her day to day and what she works on in her full-stack role. Taylor was a consultant on our brand new Back-End Engineer Career Path.

In our interview, Taylor defines full-stack development, talks about what she loves about her job, and shares some tips for aspiring full-stack developers who are just starting out. If you’re interested in becoming a full-stack developer, our new Full-Stack Engineer Career Path is designed to prepare you with everything you need to get an entry-level job in full-stack development.

What does a full-stack web developer do?

When we refer to the stack, Taylor explains, we refer to “all the different applications that are communicating with one another and all the different programs that are working with each other to take a request from a user’s browser or mobile phone and all the APIs and servers and databases that are talking to one another to respond to that request.”

“A full-stack engineer is a software developer that’s writing code not only for the user’s front-end web applications or mobile applications, but they’re also writing API code that sits in the middle, they’re writing server code that sits in the back, and they’re also connecting and communicating with databases.”

How does a full-stack developer different from a front-end or back-end developer? Essentially a full-stack developer does both front-end and back-end development. But that’s not all. “They also understand how those pieces work together, and they’re able to create the communication that exists between those two sides,” says Taylor. “A full-stack developer is not just looking at front-end and back-end, but also at how those two pieces communicate and how they integrate together.”

Is full-stack development right for you?

We asked Taylor what she loves about full-stack development and she told us, “I love both front-end and back-end development.” Being a full-stack software developer allows her to explore both her creative side and her problem-solving, analytical side.

Working on the front end allows Taylor to be creative, working with what the user is going to see and interact with. “I enjoy thinking about how the user is best going to be engaged with the website I’m creating, and I like creating the colors and the styles and the different layouts that the user is going to interact with.”

Working on the back end gives Taylor the chance to problem solve — something else she loves. “You will problem solve as a front-end developer, but there are some larger puzzle pieces that you get to work with and you get to put into play when you start integrating with the back end.”

If you enjoy being creative and solving problems — and you enjoy having an understanding for the full picture of how different things interact and work together — full-stack development may be the career for you!

Advice for aspiring full-stack developers

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in full-stack development it can be hard to know where to start. There are so many different options there, you may not know what the first step should be. We asked Taylor for advice and she shared that the most important part is just getting in there and starting to learn something.

“Getting started is one of the most important things,” she says. “It’s just jumping in and learning something, because as you learn and as you understand the basic building blocks of programs and the building blocks of how those applications work together, that knowledge is very transferable. So don’t feel like you have to learn all of it — if you start with something, you can take that and build on top of it. Just getting in there and starting to learn something is going to be really important.”

If you learn one front-end programming language, you can easily transfer it to other front-end languages. Similarly, if you learn one back-end language, like Java or C# or Node.js, you transfer that knowledge to other languages too.

Once you’ve gotten started, “Code as much as you can,” says Taylor. “Get your hands on the keyboard and build your portfolio. The more you do and the more problems you solve, the stronger your skillset is going to become and the more confident you’re going to be in your own skills.”

Getting started

If you’re ready to begin your journey towards becoming a full-stack developer, our Full-Stack Engineer Career Path is the path for you. This Path will take you through everything you need to know, from how to build and deploy static web pages to how to combine front-end with back-end. You’ll also learn interview techniques and build your portfolio so you can start applying for full-stack development jobs. Get started here.

Get more practice, more projects, and more guidance.

What does a full-stack developer do?
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