Apr 20 , 2023

Software Developers Vs. Full Stack Developers: Untangle the Jargon

“May you live in interesting times”, the idiom has taken a completely new meaning in the times we live in. The possibilities are endless, so are challenges. When charting a career path, crossroads can be confusing, intimidating too. Clear understanding of the career options and making the informed choice is crucial. And, for that let’s untangle the jargon and know the roles to opt for.

For starters, this is the best time to be a developer. The demand is growing by leaps and bounds, we are staring at YoY increase of almost 25%. But then how far can the role of software developer can take you and where does the horizon for full stack developer stretch to? Let’s dive in and get the basics right.

Software developer VS Full stack developer: Definition and Tasks  

First, let’s clearly define a full stack developer and software developer. 

For this, we need to understand the term full stack. Full stack means the complete web development process and is divided into two parts – the front end and back end. The front end or ‘client-side’ refers to what users can see and directly interact with when they click on a website or application. For example, text, images, buttons, menus and so on.  

The back end or ‘server side’ is the part of the website that isn’t visible to the user. Instead, it deals with storing and arranging data to ensure the smooth functioning of the front end. 

A full stack developer has the knowledge and skill set to handle the web development process from beginning to end.  

Meanwhile, a software developer, as the name suggests, develops software. But they usually only handle the front end of the software development process. Meaning they write the code for the user interface of a software application. 

A note of caution: do not confuse a software developer with half stack developer. The latter refers to someone who works on either the front end or the back end. 

Software developer VS Full stack developer: Technical Skills  

Now let’s examine the technical skills necessary for each position. 

Software developers must be fluent in three front end programming languages – HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Additionally, expertise in front end frameworks like React, React Native, Flutter and Angular is required. In addition, software developers also need a basic understanding of design skills to create attractive and easy-to-use sites or applications. 

Full stack developers will acquire a wider range of skills and knowledge than software developers. For instance, in addition to front end programming languages, full stack developers must be proficient in at least one back end programming language like Ruby, Python, PHP etc.  

Besides this, database and caching are other skills full stack developers require. This necessitates a solid grounding in databases like SQL, SQLite and MongoDB. 

Full stack developers must also be skilled in development and operations (DevOp). This area focuses on making the back end and front end of a website work together seamlessly. 

Software developer VS Full stack developer: Non-tech Skills 

Along with technical skills, non-tech or soft skills also play an important role in being a successful software developer or full stack developer.  

A good communication style is vital as software developers need to interact with team members and clients. Another relevant skill is empathy. Why so? This is because the ability to put yourself in the other person’s shoes will facilitate creating a better user experience.  

Strong problems solving skills are also crucial. This involves the capability to think critically and creatively to arrive at the best solution to a problem. 

As full stack developers are in charge of the complete web development process, a software developer’s soft skill set is insufficient. Furthermore, their job responsibilities require them to coordinate between various people and components of a project to ensure timely delivery of the final product. Therefore, they have to make quick executive decisions and be master managers. 

A full stack developer’s job also necessitates a sharp business acumen and staying abreast of the latest technologies. 

Software developer vs Full stack developer: Making the Decision 

Decide between becoming a software developer or a full stack developer is just the beginning.  

The next course of action is to acquire the necessary qualifications. The most common path to becoming a full stack developer is obtaining an undergraduate degree in computer science or engineering. But it isn’t the only way. Those who face financial limitations or wish to upskill quickly can through short intensive courses.  

Even a software developer can change lines and become a full-stack developer. All they need is to learn the right skills.   

Whether you become a software developer or a full stack developer, the decision is yours. Just make an informed one. And remember, who you are today need not be who you will be tomorrow.