Balancing front-end and back-end work

By Barnaby Golden, 27 May, 2019

Balancing Front-End and Back-End Workload

A developer at work

Sometimes, a team finds themselves with requirements that require a lot of back-end development and a small amount of front-end work. If the team has specialist front-end and back-end developers, then it may be tricky to balance the workload.

Initial Approach: Stub Back-End Functionality

One approach I have seen work is to initially stub the back-end functionality before doing the detailed development work. Here are the steps the team takes:

  • The back-end developer defines an API that the front-end will use for the feature.
  • The back-end developer builds a very simple stub that allows the front-end developer to make API calls and get back reasonable results (e.g., they make the call getUser() and always get back the same user details).
  • The back-end developer continues developing and, when ready, swaps out the stub and replaces it with the real code.
  • The front-end developer is no longer blocked and can get feedback on their work.

It is worth noting that this approach often helps with testing as well.

Long-Term Solution: Cross-Skilling Developers

However, although this approach is effective, it is not the best solution to the problem. The best long-term solution is to cross-skill the developers so that they can do both front-end and back-end development. This gives the team a lot more flexibility in how they do their work.

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