Front and back-end developers are a valuable and essential part of an established development team.
But going ‘all in’ on the front or back-end isn’t for everyone. Being a Full Stack Developer is a specialism in itself and not just in terms of having a specialist tech stack.
To understand why consider a couple of examples.
As a freelancer, let’s say a potential customer has developed an Excel solution and wants you to convert it to a cloud-based SaaS app.
A Full Stack Developer can build that entire system independently. They don’t need a front or back end developer to help with the initial UI, server-side tech or database design. They can design, build and deploy the app themselves.
So the freelancer can offer a more cost-effective option for the customer, i.e. save them money.
As another example, say a business decides to create a new product to offer their customers.
Rather than spending months planning, designing and building a product in the background without having any interaction with real customers, they do the sensible thing and build an MVP. (If you don’t know what this means read The Lean Startup – it’s a great book!).
Full Stack Developers are a great resource to have on the team because they can kick-start an MVP for minimal cost.
The business doesn’t need to allocate a team of specialists when one or two people can do the job more cost-effectively. After all, launching a new product is a risk and you want to minimise the cost of taking this risk.
Let’s be clear here, I’m not saying Full Stack Developers are better than Front/Back-end Developers!
Full Stack Developers might not have mastered everything there is to know about the full stack. They can and should learn a lot from front and back end specialists.
But Full Stacks Developers can understand and work on both sides. They should also be fairly handy with deployment and other DevOps related tasks.
With all that said, once an application has gone beyond the MVP stage and is attracting an increasing number of users there will come a point where it makes sense to bring in more, err… specialist specialists! That’s when the expertise of the Front-Enders, Back-Enders and DevOpers becomes indispensable.
So what’s the point of Full Stack Developers?
I’d say Full Stack Developers are great at building products. That’s why I prefer to call them Software Product Engineers. 🙂