As a task for this article, we would like you to visit the website of Scaler Academy. Did you see something similar to this?
Notice the form at the right-hand corner?
It is asking you to fill in your contact details to book a demo class. But, did you ever wonder what happens when you press that red button? Where does your information go? How does your information go? Does it just disappear into the black space, or is there a mechanism behind all this? Surely there is! And it is known as Backend.
Today, we use the internet in almost everything we do. The internet has infiltrated every aspect of our lives, ranging from booking tickets to meeting people virtually over a call. It now acts as a one-stop guide to all the information and queries about coding, cooking, relaxing, entertainment, and much more.
The internet itself has seen a transformation. In its early days, it was a static network designed to present information or static data visually with no involvement of backend and user-specific data. There was no way we could share dynamic data. But today, a vast quantity of data is uploaded and downloaded over this medium.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the internet widened in scope to encompass the capabilities of dynamic data sharing. It brought about the concept of web2.0 and the Backend that focuses more on user-generated data, thus making it more useful for general users.
With all this upsurge in technological advancements, we got exposed to a new domain known as Web Development. Web development is the building and maintenance of websites; it is the functionality that works behind the scenes to make a website look great and perform well according to the demand of the users. Web development has become an integral part of today’s digital world. It is a career that offers many opportunities to individuals with good technical skills.
Web development is mainly divided into two parts- frontend and backend. The frontend is all that the user sees i.e. the visuals and the designs. And the backend is all logic that makes things happen. Recall the first example that we encountered of the scaler website, all the functions you did like adding data and pressing the button were done on the frontend side, while whatever happened behind the scenes like collecting the data, processing it, encrypting it, adding that form data to the database was done on the backend side.
In this article, we will discuss more about the skills required to become a backend developer.
What is Backend Development?
Backend Development is also known as server-side development. It is everything that the users don’t see and contains behind-the-scenes activities that occur when performing any action on a website. It focuses primarily on databases, backend logic, APIs, and Servers.
The backend of a website is a combination of servers, applications, and databases. Code written by backend developers helps browsers in communicating with the databases and store data into the database, read data from the database, update the data and delete the data or information from the database.
Recall the example of the scaler website. What do you think happens when you submit your details? To give a brief overview, let us see the following diagram:
When you click the submit button after filling in your details, they are sent to the server that then processes your data and stores it in the database. Now we have the details shared by you in our database. But did you see any of this happening? No, because it happened behind the scenes. Thus, it is known as the backend. It is just an overview of what the backend is, but this is not it, there is a lot to it.
Now that we have an idea of what backend is, let us discuss what backend developers are?
A backend developer is one who makes use of the technology required to develop the products for the backend of any website. A backend developer is responsible for building the structure of a software application.
Backend developers typically work in groups or with a team. Large teams include both backend and frontend developers where both the developers collaborate to develop viable products. Backend developers collaborate with frontend developers, principal architects, product managers, and testers to contribute their part and develop a product.
Backend developers use various kinds of tools, languages, and frameworks to accomplish these tasks. To do all this, they use a variety of server-side languages, including Java, .NET, PHP, Ruby, NodeJS, and Java. They also use tools like MySQL, MongoDB, Oracle, and SQL server to create, read, update or delete data and serve it back to the client-side or the frontend of the application.
Backend Developer Skills
To become a backend developer, you should have good knowledge about these topics:
- Backend Programming Languages
Backend Programming Languages
There are two kinds of backend programming languages –
Object-oriented (OOP) – It is a programming architecture built upon the concept of classes and objects. It is used to structure a program into simple, reusable pieces of code snippets (called classes), which are then used to create individual instances of objects. A class is an abstract blueprint that is used to create more concrete and specific objects. And objects are the instances of a class.
In object-oriented programming languages, statements are executed in a particular order. Some of the popular object-oriented backend languages include Python, Java, and .NET.
Functional – Functional programming is a programming paradigm in which everything is bound in mathematical functions style. It is a way of software development by creating pure functions. Functional programming languages avoid the concepts of shared state and mutable data that is observed in OOP. They emphasize expressions and declarations rather than execution.
Functional programming languages use declarative syntax, which suggests that statements are often executed in random order. Some examples of functional languages include Haskell, Clojure, SQL, and R.
PHP – PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) is an open-source back-end scripting language used to build dynamic websites. It was first released in 1995 and is one of the first languages with the ability to build dynamic websites, it quickly gained momentum. PHP at present empowers 78.2% of the dynamic websites. In traditional websites, PHP is generally used to gather user information and store it securely in a database.
One of the advantages of PHP is that it is easy to learn and use because of its simple syntax. PHP is a great language to start with for the following reasons:
- Being dynamically typed, it reports fewer errors, which means that you should compile and run a program until you identify the problematic part.
- There are a lot of resources dedicated to the language as a result of the large community and support.
Some of the companies that use PHP as a backend are Facebook, Lyft, Viber, and Hootsuite.
Python – Python was first curated by Guido van Rossum in 1991. Python is an interpreted general-purpose programming language. It declines the need for coding to a significant level.
It has high usefulness because of the ease of use and extensive libraries offered for backend development. Many emerging tech companies use Python web frameworks such as Django and Flask to power their web apps.
Furthermore, the syntax of Python is easy to understand compared to other backend languages. Python can be used for cross-platform shell scripting and quick automation. Using frameworks like a flask, we can also deploy machine learning models on the websites.
Some of the companies that use Python as a backend are Uber, Mozilla, RedHat, and Spotify.
Ruby – Ruby is a dynamic, open-source, high-level programming language. Ruby focuses on productivity and simplicity.
Coding with Ruby allows developers to create web applications quickly without writing much code.
Ruby is similar to Python in that it’s fantastic for prototyping. It prioritizes conventions rather than configuration, which helps the backend developers as they don’t have to waste their time configuring the files to get started with the development process. With ruby, we can automate repetitive tasks, build web applications, build mobile applications, and create prototypes.
Ruby on Rails is an open-source web development framework. It is a web development framework built on top of Ruby.
Some of the companies that use Ruby as a backend are Airbnb, and Codecademy.
Java – Java is an object-oriented, platform-independent, and general-purpose programming language. According to a survey by Indeed, Java is one of the world’s most popular programming languages.
Java boasts of high convenience, cross-stage capabilities, and security. Thus, it has become the most preferred language among developers.
While Java is extremely popular with desktop and business software developers, it is not beginner-friendly. And thus loses in front of a language like Python. This is because Java is verbose and requires more code to build out even the simplest of the features. With Java, we can perform database connectivity, image processing, networking, etc. easily.
Spring Boot is one of the top Java backend frameworks used for efficient web development.
Some of the companies that use Java as a backend are LinkedIn, Flipkart, Amazon and eBay.
.NET – .NET is a web application framework that is used to build websites using languages like C#, VB.NET, and more. It was first developed by Microsoft in response to Oracle’s Java programming language.
.NET is a unified one-stop solution for building fast and robust mobile, desktop, web, and cloud applications. It is open-source, and supports all platforms including macOS, Windows, and Linux. .NET is fast and friendly and goes well with other programming languages and platforms.
.NET mainly follows an MVC (Model-View-Controller) based architectural pattern. It is a development pattern that allows duties to be handled by a controller, which interacts with a model to process data.
Some of the companies that use .NET as a backend are Stackoverflow and Microsoft.
Knowledge of Databases –
Every website needs a database to deal with the client data. A database stores the data and site content in a way that makes it simple to recover, arrange, alter, and store information. A backend developer should have extensive knowledge of various DBMS technologies.
Knowledge of APIs
The entire internet works via the medium of APIs. API stands for Application Programming Interface and API is a medium through which two computer software can talk to each other.
API is a set of rules and definitions that allow different clients, software, or services to communicate with each other over the internet. When two systems communicate, the server is the one that provides the API, and the client is the one who consumes it.
APIs take a request from the client or user and send it to the server, which then sends back a response based on the request.
This communication is done through HTTP methods such as:
- GET: used to retrieve a resource.
- DELETE: used to delete a resource.
- PUT: used to replace an existing resource.
- POST: used to create a new resource.
Backend developers should have extensive knowledge about APIs since they are medium which enables data transfer. APIs generally act as a mediator between the backend and the databases enabling the developers to fetch the user data. Backend developers create APIs using various languages and frameworks including Python, NodeJS, etc. These APIs then can be consumed by frontend developers to collect the data, and show it on the frontend side of the website, and enhance the User Experience.
Knowledge of Servers
Since servers are the most commonly used medium to deliver important services, most servers are never turned off. This part of the servers makes it an essential element for a backend developer to learn about. Some examples of the servers are Apache, Nginx, IIS servers, and Microsoft IIS.
Some other backend development skills include –
- Ability to manage a hosting environment along with database administration.
- Knowledge of scaling applications to handle the load changes that is a large amount of data traffic.
- Knowledge of accessibility and security compliances.
- Knowledge of version control such as Git and GitHub.
- They should be good communicators so that they can communicate ideas and add value to their teams.
- In-depth knowledge of deploying or hosting.
- Knowledge of AWS, Heroku, Google Cloud Platform is a plus. These all are cloud-hosting markets. Heroku is a container-based cloud platform service (PaaS) and AWS is a cloud platform that provides IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), PaaS, and SaaS (Software as a Service).
What backend skills are in demand?
A backend developer should have knowledge about –
Algorithms – Algorithms are the foundation to solve problem-solving. They determine the approach and the appropriate method for any given problem. Lacking knowledge in this aspect limits the employability of a backend developer. Some of the algorithms that a backend developer should know are:
- Searching algorithms such as Depth First Search and Breadth-First Search.
- Sorting algorithms like the bubble sort, selection sort, insertion sort, merge sort, quick sort, etc.
- Recursive and iterative algorithms.
Data Structures – Next to algorithms, data structures is the most important aspect of a backend developer career. It forms the basis of organizing, accessing, and modifying data in programming. Some of the data structures that a backend developer should know are:
- Array operations.
- List functions.
- Concepts of the hash tree, and hashmap.
- Tree and the operations performed on them.
- A backend developer should have extensive knowledge about Python, PHP, and Java since they are the most in-demand technologies.
- A backend developer should also be proficient in version control systems like Git, GitHub, and GitLab.
- One must have knowledge about some popular Databases like MySQL, MongoDB, PostgreSQL, etc. He/She should also be proficient in relational (SQL) and non-relational databases (NoSQL).
- Good knowledge of hosting the code and Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms is a plus.
Roles of a Backend Developer
The responsibilities of a backend developer include writing APIs, interacting with the database, creating libraries, and improving the data architecture. Some more responsibilities of a backend programmer are –
- Coordinate with frontend developers and develop server-side algorithms to transfer data efficiently to the client-side web applications.
- Cross-collaborate with PM(Project Manager), and QA (Quality Assurance) engineers to optimize and develop a quality User Experience (UX).
- Make sure the application is fast and performs the same whenever the user traffic changes.
- Collaborate with the stakeholders to understand their particular needs, then translate those into technical requirements and come up with the most effective and efficient technical solution.
- Optimize the applications for increasing response time and efficiency.
- Analyze the requirements and goals, handle bugs and errors, and come up with efficient and fast solutions.
- Interact with the database for storing data.
- Manage and develop APIs (they help two software in communicating with each other over the internet) that are executed across the devices.
- Building the architecture of the system while keeping in mind the scalability, speed, and stability of the applications.
- Implementing security structures and their best practices.
- Writing reusable code and libraries for future implementation.
The web is a rapidly evolving universe. Everything that we use and see in our daily lives has moved to the web. With this upsurge in technology, the demand for backend developers is also rising. So if you are planning to give direction to your career, backend development is a good choice to have a thrilling and exciting career.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between frontend and backend development?
Frontend refers to the user-facing, whereas backend refers to the server-side of a website or application. They are like two sides of the same coin. Though both are crucial to web development, they differ by their roles, responsibilities, and the environments they work in. The front end is simply what users see whereas the backend is how everything is working behind the frontend.
What should I learn to become a backend developer?
Backend developers should have sound knowledge of at least one of the backend and server-side programming languages. They must also know how to create, read, update and delete (known as CRUD operations) data from a database and communicate it to the user-facing side of the server. Backend developers must be proficient in handling APIs and the HTTP protocols along with version control systems like Git.
Is Python frontend or backend?
Being a general-purpose language, Python can be used as both frontend and backend. Due to its easy syntax and widespread use, Python is a core programming language for back-end development. There are many development frameworks built upon python including Django which can be used for both frontend and backend and Flask. Front-end Python is not unheard of, it’s just not preferred.
Which Language is best for the backend?
Every language has its own use cases, advantages, and disadvantages. And it depends on the developer as to which language he/she feels comfortable. However, some languages are preferred over others due to the ease of use and the community background behind them.
This graph shows the popularity of different programming languages –
Developers’ most well-known (black color) and in-demand (yellow color) programming languages.
Which is the easy frontend or backend?
There’s a general perception that the frontend is easier than the backend. This is true on a beginner level. In reality, mastering either of these two requires a lot of patience and hard work.
Are backend developers paid more?
Since backend developers are involved in a more technically complex role, they can expect an average salary higher than that of front-end developers. According to payscale, the average market salary of a Backend Developer is $130K, whereas the average salary of a Frontend Developer is $115K. Though backend developers earn more on average, these salaries heavily depend on the skills that a developer possesses and both can earn equally at the higher levels.
What is the backend developer’s salary?
According to payscale, the average annual salary of a backend developer is around $130K.
In India, this figure is nearly Rs. 1,200,000 per annum.