Using the web and the cloud to deliver real value to business and organizations will continue to drive the largest demand for developers. However, increasing complexity in those technologies stacks will drive more specialization as developers begin to lean more towards the backend or frontend.
For those looking to move into the industry, training and exposure to FullStack development will still be the best guide to areas of best aptitude and interest.
1. Web and Cloud Applications Continue to Dominate.
Strong growth in the technology industry continues to be driven by the adoption and spread of technology as a core enabler for every type of business and organization, and the availability of the internet as a primary means of reaching customers. This means that most jobs are using existing technology stacks to solve new and evolving business problems, products, and services.
While there is growth in jobs like cybersecurity to help “maintain the infrastructure,” solving human-centered problems is still the biggest need in the industry. Using the web and cloud-based technologies continues to be the platform of choice for delivering those solutions.
Even the niche demand for native applications is being fulfilled by solutions like React Native, allowing web development skills to be applied to iOS and Android specific solutions. AI and Machine Learning continue to be important specializations in the industry, but ready-made AI models or simplified training for areas like image recognition is growing, allowing AI to be consumed through cloud based APIs. Businesses need developers who can use the available tooling to integrate AI into existing applications.
2. Complexity and Specialization are Increasing.
At the same time, the growth and dominance of web and cloud technology stacks is driving the need for greater specialization. There is a realization that “no one person” can know it all, driving the need for a diversity of team members to tackle the whole project.
The trends driving specialization on the backend are:
DevOps and the deployment of solutions to cloud based providers like Amazon Web Services.
Data analytics and Machine Learning, including integrations with AI systems.
Increased breadth of the database ecosystem including SQL, NoSQL, Hadoop, Warehousing, and other solutions
On the frontend end, we see:
Increased focus on usability and accessibility
Integration with design and design system tools
Expansion of existing frontend technologies into hybrid solutions like React Native
3. Keep a Foot in Both Worlds.
While developers will increasingly be asked to specialize in either backend or frontend development, company size will play a big role in how much. There are plenty of smaller companies, teams, and startups that will find a person who can handle the “full stack” to be extremely valuable.
However, even for those developers at companies able to support more specialized roles, it will still be important to keep at least one foot in the other end:
Frontend developers need to be skilled at consuming APIs and occasionally jumping in to create APIs with technologies like ExpressJS and NodeJS
4. Train To Find Your Place.
Many incoming new developers are often surprised by which end of the stack they prefer. Only by experiencing both can you really know which areas you most enjoy.
One student, a former lawyer, thought they would prefer the user-oriented aspect of the frontend but then went on to work with data and build services on the backend. Another student, with a math background, thought they would like backend more because it had a reputation for being “more technical”, but found out they felt way more useful, confident, efficient when working on front end projects.
FullStack training is still highly relevant to give you the baseline skills to succeed wherever you end up. Once you discover what best aligns with your goals, begin to grow and specialize in the areas best aligned with your skills and interest.