Skills of a Backend Developer

Konfinity
October 3,2020 - 5 min read
skills required for backend development

In today’s day and age of technology, web applications and websites hold a very important place. Every organization is looking for better platforms to mark its presence on the world wide web. Be it an e-commerce portal, online video and image editing applications or emails, all of them require a robust, interactive and a secure portal to cater to the needs to their customers.

It is very important for developers to understand the whole process of developing an application that runs on the internet. To summarise the entire architecture of web application, here is a short summary.

The whole scenario starts with a user opening any web application. The user then triggers any particular request to the web server. Now the backend comes in the picture. The web server forwards the request to the web application server according to the generated request. The web application server processes the request and generates an appropriate response. There will be an interaction with the database layer if the data is required to be stored for future use. The result is sent to the web server with the processed data as a response. Web server responds back to the client. The output is shown on the user interface.

This was a short summary on the web application architecture, if you want to understand the concept in more detail then you might enjoy reading this blog on web application development.

In today’s blog we are going to talk especially about the backend development in the entire web application architecture. You may expect a set of languages and technologies that are evident in backend development, the skills you require to become a backend developer and much more. We hope you read the complete blog to get a comprehensive overview of the role of backend development in developing any web application or website.

What is Backend Development?

The back end is the part of web application that handles all the functioning but is hidden from the us er. It refers to the development activities on the server side. In simpler terms, when a user performs any action or triggers any request on the website, the activities that take place behind the scenes are termed as backend development. Backend development mainly consists of – web servers, applications and databases.

Backend development consists of a series of steps and actions, we would go through each of them in detail. The workflow of backend web development is -

  • The work of a backend developer starts when the UI/UX designers, graphic designer and front-end developers are ready with a static website.
  • Backend development is done according to the specific use case of the company. Some of the examples of backend development includes storing data collected from a form in the database, letting the user update shopping cart, making a purchase etc.
  • The server receives a request from the user in the form of an url (uniform resource locator).
  • The url consists of several parts.

    1. The first part of url is the protocol for the request. The Protocols, in simple language, are a set of rules.Protocol gives a lot of information to the user e.g. if the request is encrypted or not.
    2. The next part of the url is the domain or the host name. This tells the server where to send back the information.
    3. The next section of the url is the path. The path tells the server what the client wants and defines which section of the code on the server should be run in order to get the correct response.
    4. The last part of the url is the query string. The query string is broken down into specific query parameters. It can be imagined as a key value pair.
  • The url tells the server which section to look for and how to alter on the basis on query parameter in order to get the desired results.
  • The section is further broken down into parts. The server makes uses of the action (e.g. PUSH, POST, GET) that is passed with the url in order to determine which part of the section it is to run.
  • Normally the response from the server is in the form of a HTML page that is dynamically generated.

Now that we have an overview about what happens at the backend, here’s hoping that you are excited to start your journey as a backend developer. If your answer is yes, then jump on to the next section where we are going to discuss how you can become a successful backend developer.

Skills for Backend Development

A backend developer has more than a few responsibilities in an organization, some of them are - securely store the user data, allow user to make payments from different methods, handle Application Programming Interface (API’s) among others.

Backend developers use a combination of web technologies, computing languages and databases to perform desired functionalities. We will now talk about each constituent of the web stack in detail.

  • Web Servers

    Web server accepts request from the user when the browser connects to the server. We have talked about web servers and their use earlier in this blog. Some of the most popular web servers are Apache, NGINX, Microsoft IIS (Internet Information Service).

  • Web Frameworks

    The web servers then pass the request to web frameworks. A web framework is a library for programming languages that helps the developer to handle web requests. There are a plenty of programming languages for the backend that come with their own frameworks to make the process of development easier. It’s not necessary to learn all these languages, just have a good hold of one of these languages and its framework and you are good to go.

    Let’s have a look at some of the most popular programming languages and their frameworks –

    1. JavaScript

      Javascript founded by Brendan Eich back in 1995 was an event-driven, functional and imperative language and was initially used for browsers and creating interactive web pages. It was popularly used to make dynamic effects on web pages like rollover, rollout and other interesting functionalities.

      With the advent of some frameworks for Javascript like Nodejs and Express, Javascript has now diversified and has moved to other environments and can now develop a wide range of applications. Now, Javascript can also be used at the server-side also.

      Applications built with the help on Nodejs is fast and highly scalable. Nodejs can generate dynamic content on webpages, it can collect data produced through forms and add, delete or modify the database you are using in your project.

      This Javascript framework is built on Chrome’s V8 engine written in C++. It is used as a compiler and it executes the code at an impressive speed which leaves no chance for buffering or time lag. It uses Javascript as its scripting language and runs on the V8 environment.

    2. Java

      Java was released by Sun Microsystems in 1995. Java is a cross-platform, object-oriented programming language. We shall now comprehend each of these features of Java in detail.

      Java is a cross platform language, and by that we mean that the program’s source code is compiled into an intermediate “bytecode”. The bytecode is then executed by the JVM (Java Virtual Machine) which is the Java interpreter. This bytecode with the Java Virtual Machine would be executed in the same manner on all hardware platforms. Popular Java frameworks include Spring and JSF (Java Server Faces)

    3. Python

      Python, invented by Guido van Russum in 1991 has been at the top of the stack for many years now. According to the formal definition, Python is an interpreted, high-level and general-purpose programming language.

      Python is a programming language that falls in the category of object-oriented programming language. If you are confused about the object-oriented nature of Python, here are some points for you to comprehend the principles of an object-oriented language. Python is highly flexible and easy to learn. Popular python frameworks are Django and Flask.

    4. PHP

      PHP is basically a server-side programming language that runs on almost all platforms and is compatible with all servers6. It is usually used in developing webpages and applications. It is embedded in markup languages like HTML.

      PHP which now stands for Hypertext processor, was created by Ramsum Lerdorf in 1994.

      PHP is popularly used to create dynamic content on webpages. It collects data from forms that would be filled by users. PHP can access and edit the database. PHP can edit and use files on the server. PHP is an important language that is used on the server-side in web development projects. Another thing to note is that it cannot be used as the only technology in the stack. PHP is used with HTML, CSS, Javascript and other web languages to build applications.

  • SQL Languages

    SQL shorthand for structure query language used for fetching the data from the database according to a particular request. It involves fetching, deleting, storing and manipulating data from a database. SQL is popularly called query language for various applications.

  • Database

    A database is a collection of organised data that can be easily accessed, managed and updated. Some of the most popular databases are MongoDB and MySQL.

Apart from these technical skills that a backend developer should possess, there are a number of other qualities also that a backend developer should aspire to inculcate. First of all, other than programming languages for backend development, databases and servers, a good knowledge of front-end technologies is also appreciated.

A backend developer should also have a good knowledge of languages like HTML, CSS, Javascript and other front-end technologies. This is necessary because of easy workflow between developers of various domains. A sufficient knowledge of what happens on the other side gives you confidence and power to do your own work at the backend.

Another skill that is often neglected is communication skills. It is important in every profession but as a backend developer, communication skills are very important. An application is built as a result of a collaboration between both backend and frontend developers along with designers. Effective communication between developers across domains results in a successful application.

Here we come to the end of our guide to backend development. We have tried to comprehensively cover each and every point that is relevant, however, if you feel we missed out on something important, we would love to hear from you.

Both front-end developers and back-end developers have their own importance in the market and no one can be declared superior to another. Each of these developers possess some skills that are prominent to the development of application and hence both are valuable in the I.T industry.

While we have covered almost every skill that is required to be a backend develop however theoretical knowledge is necessary but not sufficient. If you want to make a lucrative career as a backend developer, a practical, professional and industry like training is a must. Make sure you start your journey as a backend developer now under right guidance.

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