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Comparison of front-end & back-end programming languages for web development

christaelrod profile image Christa Elrod ・6 min read

Software development essentially revolves around programming in which codes are written to drive the functions of the software. Developers need to be aware of various programming languages which can be used for the coding purpose.

For the purpose of creating a strong online presence, specific web design programming languages are used for coding site dynamics. The languages vary among themselves in terms of usage pattern, strengths, and drawbacks. Each language supports a set of functionalities which are accomplished through the use of tools carried in them. These tools of individual languages help in accomplishing various coding related tasks with agility. However, if you are a beginner in web development, you may have to learn different programming languages to be more proficient in creating dynamic webpages.

Popularly Used Web Languages

Some programming languages are meant for developing desktop oriented software whereas others are used for web development. The popularity is based on the ease with which requirements are met by languages, historical usage, and functionalities offered.

Programming languages can be broadly categorized into two types

a) Client side languages
The files that are scripted in these languages are forwarded to web browsers directly. Files are interpreted by browser and the content is displayed to site’s users. Interaction with site users occurs through the frontend or the visible part of the website. The visible section is known as the client side. All elements responsible for enhancing user experience are present over here. These include button colors, text, pictures, menus for navigation etc.

Prominent client side scripting languages include VBScript, JavaScript, Ajax, jQuery, HTML5 and CSS.

b) Server side languages
The back-end programming languages help in building of web applications. The codes are executed on the server. Server is the PC on which website is hosted; it is not the one on which we browse the website. The server side segment of the website is not visible to common users. Data is stored and organized for ensuring seamless functioning of the client side programs. Communication occurs between backend and frontend for exchange of information needed to display content on web pages correctly.

Prominent server side programming languages include C++, Python, Ruby on Rails, PHP, C#, ASP.Net, Visual Basic etc.

Frontend Scripting languages

a) HTML
Hypertext Markup Language is used for writing web pages and web documents. Semantic information is provided regarding the displayed content by the enclosing inter-linear tags.

b) CSS
Cascading Style Sheet is another front-end programing language which provides comprehensive information about HTML document’s content to web browser to facilitate proper display. Some of the details carried by CSS include information about fonts, font size, priority of layers, colors, placement on-page etc.

c) JavaScript
The richness of web interactions within the browser can be enhanced with the JavaScript programming language. JavaScript is not the same as Java which is completely a different programming language and least related to it. It is event-driven and responds to user triggered actions. When you click, hover the curser on a button, type and do other events, the reactions are controlled by JavaScript. The web page with which JavaScript is associated offers complete access of its documental structure to the language.

d) Angular.js
Google had launched and now maintains this frontend framework for web application development, Angular.js. Open source community members contribute to its development. The framework simplifies SPAs (single page applications) lifecycle development process particularly while testing and development are underway. The framework uses MVVW (Model View View Model) and MVC (Model View Controller). The launching of framework was initially done for addressing issues experienced during SPA development. SPA is a web site or application which undergoes dynamic rewriting depending on how user interacts with it. The page need not be reloaded with all its elements from the hosting server every time user interacts with it. The behavior of these web apps or pages resemble that of desktop apps.

Backend Programming Languages

PHP

It is a server side language. Originally utilized for scripting, PHP is now popular as a language that generally caters to all programming purposes. Different frameworks under PHP are CodeIgniter, Yii, Laravel, CakePHP, Zend etc.

a) CakePHP
This contemporary framework supports the scaffolding features like Ruby on Rails. The framework is inbuilt with different security features and testing mechanisms.

b) CodeIgniter
This is a lightweight framework which supports faster app development. CodeIgniter comes packed with different libraries, can be used easily, and has an active user community. There would be no shortage of resources when it comes to scripting with CodeIgniter.

c) Laravel
This PHP framework is among the most popular ones. Laravel is open source and free to use. It supports faster development of apps. The purpose of designing Laravel was to provide CodeIgniter with an equivalent alternative. October is a content management system which has been developed based on Laravel framework.

Model View Controller (MVC) architectural pattern is supported by Laravel. Unit testing functionality is embedded within Laravel. Many innovative features are also inbuilt in this framework. With the help of modular package manager, features can be added, communication with relational databases can be carried out using different methods and utilities can be managed for deploying and maintaining applications.

d) Symfony
This PHP framework is high performing, stable and advanced. The learning curve for this framework is steep. However, top-notch documentation along with other resources and support are readily available. Symfony comes with reusable components and libraries. For the purpose of speeding up building, deploying and maintaining the PHP web applications, reusable PHP libraries and components are used. The focus is on enterprise app building and as such developers can enjoy control over full configuration tools for better decision making. Symfony’s development is fueled by Spring Framework. This framework is used by developers using proprietary Java programming language.

e) Yii
This framework is also open source and delivers optimum performance. Web pages which have to be complex but must load faster are designed using Yii. Yii was developed using initial stages of PHP development but is still maintained. Its appeal lies in its ease of usage.

f) Zend
Zend is the best enterprise framework in PHP. However, rapid app development is not supported. But, security features are best. To improve performance, Zend can be extended as required. Due to enterprise build, many components such as forms, authentication etc. are supported.

Python

Another of feature richback-end programming languages is Python which has gained immense popularity these days due to application in data science domain. It is an object oriented, high level language used for programming multiple applications. Although less used for web development, many web apps are scripted in Python.

a) Django
Hailed for being the ‘web framework for perfectionists with deadlines’, Django enjoys high popularity as Python web framework. Its open source nature makes it free to use. The framework offers all-inclusive scripting experience by providing everything under one roof. Python developers can easily develop complex data driven web sites using Django. Components created can be reused with ease which makes quick developing of multiple web apps possible.

b) Flask
This micro web Python framework is flexible and easy to use. Flask does not need specific tools and libraries, and comes packed with third party libraries provided component functionalities. Flask extensions can be used for adding application features. Different extension types are available which gets updated frequently compared to Flask core. With the help of Flask, you can make decisions for controlling the behavior of different aspects of web application.

Java
Java is prominent among scripting languages used commonly in enterprise setups. Spring framework is an excellent option to work with. Java apps can generally use Spring; however, you can enjoy benefits offered by the available extensions for building web apps based on Java EE or Enterprise Edition. You are not required to adhere to specific programming paradigm for using Spring. If you are desirous of following the MVC pattern, then Spring MVC component is purpose built for you.

Java Server Pages (JSP)
With JSP, you can build web pages by placing Java codes into the HTML sections with the help of specialized JSP tags. JSP works in collaboration with HTML codes for using the dynamic scripting capability. The page logic is separated from the static components i.e. the web page’s particular design and display. This improves the functionality of HTML with dynamic database queries. JSPs are not bound to particular server or platform and were originally developed for serving as alternatives to Active Server Pages by Microsoft. Microsoft has also brought in a contemporary of JSP with its ASP.Net technology as part of .Net initiative.

Conclusion
After going through this post, you must have familiarized yourself with the features and functionalities of various front-end and back-end scripting languages. You can leverage their potential for supporting functionality rich web design and development. For expert help, you can always get in touch with professionals for the support in web design development.

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