Balancing front-end and back-end work

By Barnaby Golden, 27 May, 2019


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.

One approach I have seen work is to initially stub the back-end functionality before doing the detailed development work.

These are the steps the team takes:

  • The back-end developer defines an API that the frontend will use for the feature
  • The back-end developer builds a very simple stub that allows the frontend 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 carries on with developing and when they are ready swaps out the stub and swaps in the real code
  • The frontend 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.

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 on how they do their work.

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