Back-end development involves everything that exists in the server. This includes everything from data modeling and storage to security concerns. Back-end development makes the front-end of a website possible by building and maintaining the systems that makes user interaction possible.
Why Do We Need Back-End Development?
Back-end development is a crucial part of websites since back ends are comprised of databases, authentication/authorization features, application programming interfaces (APIs) and all the different components that, combined with a front-end, allow users to view and interact with applications in their browser.
What Do Back-End Developers Do?
Back-end developers must focus on a great many tasks and responsibilities to ensure that the application runs smoothly. These can include any or all of the following:
- Writing clean, maintainable code: This can include building prototypes, creating entire systems from scratch, adding new features to existing systems and more.
- Database design and management: Almost every back-end stores data in a database. A back-end developer should have extensive knowledge of both relational and non-relational databases.
- Building and managing APIs: Whether REST, SOAP, RPC or GraphQL, APIs are used extensively in back-end development as a means of communication with the client and other systems.
- Troubleshooting and debugging applications: Every developer, regardless of whether they work on the front-end or the back-end, must know how to debug and solve any problems that may arise in the application they’re building. Solving problems is the day-to-day life of any developer.
- Maintaining the web server: It isn’t unusual for back-end developers to dabble in configuring and maintaining the web server that hosts their code, especially in smaller businesses and startups that lack the budget to hire a systems administrator.
- Collaborating with front-end developers: A back-end developer must have excellent communication skills in order to collaborate with front-end developers.
Front-End vs. Back-End Development
Most websites require both front-end and back-end development. Despite being two completely different disciplines, constant collaboration between front-end and back-end developers is essential to ensure the best outcome: a fast, highly interactive, visually pleasing, completely functional website.
Back-end developers focus on data, creating the structure and implementing the back-end logic of a website by using back-end programming languages. They also create the APIs (or other communication system) that allow front-end developers to access the server-side data and display it on the front end for the user.
Key Back-End Development Concepts
Back-end developers have a great many tools and programming languages at their disposal. These tools include different types of databases, frameworks, web servers and more.
Programming languages are computer languages that programmers use to communicate with computers to create software including:
Frameworks are designed to make building and deploying web applications much easier. They provide a standard way to build applications while providing different libraries, templates, data-access solutions, authentication and authorization solutions, security measures and boilerplate code, among many other features. Some of the most popular frameworks include:
Web servers are a combination of software and hardware that stores, processes and delivers web pages to users. Communication between users and web servers happens by way of the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP). All of the back-end code is hosted on a web server. Some of the most popular web servers are:
Databases are an essential part of any web application. They are not just in charge of storing the application’s data, but also providing a way for the developer to query that data in order to return it and display it to the user.
Databases are divided in two main categories: non-relational and relational. In a nutshell, relational databases organize the data in tables that are related to each other (hence the name relational), while non-relational databases don’t use tables and instead store data in a variety of formats.
Some of the most popular databases include: