What is a back end developer? 

Author:

What is a back end developer? 

A back-end team are called back-end developers. In this article, we will see who back-end developers are and what skills you need to become a back-end developer. 

Imagine the satisfaction you get when the application you are on works seamlessly or your online bank transaction takes place without hassle. How do you think that is possible, and who do you think is ensuring that you have a good user experience? All the credit goes to the back-end team that does all the behind-the-scenes work.  

What is back-end development? 

Back-end development refers to the server side of a website or application. Back-end development is the software part that does not come in touch with the end user. It is the process of storing and arranging data so that the website or application works fine.

As the name mentions, back-end development is a behind-the-scenes process. The characteristics developed by back-end developers are indirectly accessed through a front-end application by users. Back-end development includes activities such as making libraries, writing APIs and working with system components.  

Here is an example for better understanding: 

When you go on a cosmetics website and search for lipsticks, the back-end developer makes a code to find all the information about lipsticks from a database. Once the information is found, it is processed in an application and sent or displayed on your screen.

Front-end and full-stack developers versus back-end developers 

Front-end developers and full-stack developers have different roles and know different skills. Let us understand what each type of developer does and the skills they have or work with 

Front end developers

Front-end development is where codes are produced for the front side of a website. It means features that are seen and accessed by the user.

Front-end developers create elements or codes that can be seen on the web page when users access it. These elements include buttons, a search bar, a brand name, a logo, and a layout. Front-end developers enhance user interaction and experience. 

Front-end developers also ensure the website looks good on all device platforms, such as tablets, laptops, and mobiles

These are the common tasks of a front-end developer:

  • Enhancing user experience.
  • Using best SEO practices.
  • Fixing bugs and checking the usability of the site.
  • Developing user interfaces and maintaining them. 
  • Creating tools that improve and increase site interaction.
  • Using CSS, HTML, and JavaScript to create the application.  

These are some of the front-end job titles:

  • Front-end developer
  • CSS/HTML developer
  • Front-end web designer
  • Tablet/mobile front-end developer
  • Front-end testing 
  • Front-end SEO expert

Full stack developers 

A full-stack developer is a person who is also known as a jack of all trades. They are someone who knows back-end and front-end languages and can work with various frameworks. 

A full-stack developer has skills and expertise that are useful at all levels of the web development process. Starting from project planning to database management, data structuring, and solving critical needs to building user interfaces. 

A full-stack developer has great knowledge and a strong understanding all every element of website making. Overall, they can meet the needs of the client and develop server software.  

They know how to :

  • Program a server using PHP, Python, Node, and ASP.
  • Program a browser using Angular, Vue, and JavaScript. 
  • Program a database using SQL, MongoDB, and SQLite.  

Though front-end and back-end developers work towards the same goal and project, their job descriptions are different. Both of them have to collaborate together to bring the vision into reality. In contrast, a full-stack developer knows every single aspect and works for both sides. 

Next course: Monday, the 22nd of July

Free coding course

Learn the basics of HTML, CSS & JavaScript to discover if coding is the career path for you.

What does a back-end developer do?

A back-end developer builds, maintains, and debugs the back-end program that runs a website or an application. Their job is to ensure that all the codes are well-written and running with no errors. If there is a problem, they will find a solution to rectify it. 

A back-end developer in a company collaborates with front-end developers to understand the needs. They collaborate to bring the plan into action and to the website or app’s interface. 

Other than front-end developers, they also team up with designers, researchers, IT security and managers to ensure everything is in place and execute the application. 

A back-end developer ensures that everyone is on the same page and collaborates with every team to bring the application to life without missing out on anything. They act like a backbone. 

Here is a breakdown of the role of a back-end developer:

  • Writing back-end codes. 
  • Finding and fixing the codes.
  • Ensuring that no cyberattacks take place. 
  • Maintaining databases. 
  • Keeping track of data storage, retrieval and backups. 
  • Conducting performance optimisation at regular intervals to find ways to better user experience
  • Developing the architecture of an application’s back-end
  • Maintaining code libraries so that other developers in the organisation can use them. 
  • Managing APIs. 
  • Developing the systems to meet the website or application’s requirements. 

These are the basic and essential activities of a back-end developer. The tasks may vary according to the firm. 

Back-end developer skills

A back-end developer does many things, and to achieve those tasks, a certain set of skills are required. Let us look at all the important skills a person needs to become a back-end developer. 

Back-end programming languages

  • Python: Python is user-friendly, flexible and a powerful language. It is used to perform data analysis, automate tasks and build websites. It is very easy to learn.
  • Java: Though Java is slightly harder to learn than Python, it is one of the most used languages by back-end developers. It is used because it is flexible and provides high performance. It is used to create dynamic websites and other applications with high functionality. 
  • PHP: PHP is used to create dynamic websites. It is easy to learn. PHP constructs web pages on the server from databases. 

Front-end technology

Even as a back-end developer, you must know a few elements of front-end technology. You do not have to be an expert at it, but knowing the basics will help. 

  • HTML: Hypertext markup language is a programing language that helps set the content on the web page. It includes content such as text, images, videos, or links. 
  • CSS: Cascading Style Sheets help make the page content responsive for various screen sizes and devices. CSS gives the layout, style and colour of the page. 
  • JavaScript: JavaScript executes scripts on webpages, controls animations and updates the page content. 

Knowing these programming languages will help you collaborate with the front-end team without any hassle. You will have a better understanding of what will work and what will not. 

Back-end Frameworks

A framework acts like a backbone to a language on an application you are making. There are a few frameworks that back-end developers use, and knowing these will ease your work. 

  • Django: Django is compatible with Python. It is a free platform and an open source. Django helps in rapid app development with less use of power and code.
  • NodeJs: NodeJs works well on JavaScript and is compatible with macOS, Windows and Linux. It is compatible with many other cross-platforms as well. It is an open-source platform that helps during the back-end coding of an application. 
  • ExpressJs: ExpressJs helps in building APIs. It is one of the best platforms for making web and mobile applications. Many developers like it because it works at high speed, and its deliverability rate is high. 

Databases

Databases are the most crucial elements when working on a project. Knowing how to manage databases is important. They are divided into two groups: non-relational and relational databases. 

Non-relational databases are also called NoSQL databases. Non-relational databases structure data with JavaScript object notation or extensible markup language. Gaining knowledge regarding non-relational database programs such as MonogoDB will be helpful. 

Relational databases structure data as tables with related data points. To manage databases learning how to use MySQL will help. 

APIs

The full form of API is an application programming interface. It establishes a connection between various applications. One of the roles of a back-end developer is to create connections between various applications to increase user experience, and they do this using APIs. 

Learning APIs will make your work easy. JSON, REST, GSON, and SOAP are popular among developers. 

Server-side Software

Learning and being familiar with server-side software is a must, as back-end developers write programs that run on servers. You must understand how web servers process and receive requests for web pages. 

You must be familiar with server software such as Linux operating system, Apache, Microsoft IIS and Nignix. 

Version Control System

The version control system keeps track of each and every single modification that takes place to a code in a different database. Version control helps a developer reverse mistakes and helps in protecting the source code from any accidents. 

Here are some of the version control systems that back-end developers use:

  • GitHub: GitHub is an open-source platform. Any developer can view the code, and this platform allows developers to collaborate. 
  • AWS code commit: You can easily store and manage data with the source code using this platform. 
  • GitLab: This platform allows a team to create and build software with the help of a singular communication channel.

Data Structure and Algorithms

Having proper knowledge of data structure and algorithms will be helpful. DSA forms the base for accessing, organising and modifying data during programming. Knowing data structure and algorithms will help you make efficient and optimised codes.

Problem-Solving

As a back-end developer, you will face a lot of issues. You must have the ability to solve problems efficiently and ensure the work finishes smoothly because a back-end developer is the backbone of a website. You must check for problems and ensure they are solved without issues. 

Communication Skills

You will be collaborating with various teams. Your communication must be on point to discuss issues and ideas. You must be able to communicate properly regarding all the tasks that must be done. 

Conclusion

The job of a back-end developer is very crucial. As mentioned before, they are the backbone of a project. To become a back-end developer, it is important to have all the skills and knowledge. If you are looking to become a back-end developer, ensure that you have all the skills. 

There are many courses available to learn all the skills. Remember knowing all the skills and mentioning all your certifications in your portfolio can help you get a great job. 

Become a back-end developer – coding basics for free

If you have no software development experience, then try our free 5 Day Coding Challenge. This challenge can offer you some insights into HTMLCSS & JavaScript. The best thing about the challenge is that it’ll let you know if you have an aptitude for software development. After one hour a day, over five days, you’ll build your first webpage. This could be your first step to becoming a back-end developer.

Register for this weekly challenge through the form below. Alternatively, if you want to learn more about our Full Stack Software Development programme, follow this link

Coding the Future: Developer Spotlight - Sian C.

In October 2022, Sian C. joined Code Institute’s Level 5 Diploma in Web Application Development programme, which is run in association with Cardiff and Vale College and is funded via the Welsh Government’s Personal Learning Accounts (PLA) initiative. The course aims to equip learners with full-stack software development skills, preparing them to enter the digital […]

Coding the Future: Developer Spotlight - Nathan Parsley

In May 2023, Nathan Parsley joined the Level 5 Diploma in Web Application Development programme, delivered at East Kent College Group (Ashford) by Rachel Furlong using the Code Institute learning platform. The course equips learners with full-stack software development skills, preparing them to enter the digital workforce in various roles. Nathan has completed the programme […]

Coding the Future: Developer Spotlight - Wendy Bovill

In March 2023, Wendy Bovill joined the Level 5 Diploma in Web Application Development programme, which is delivered at Westminster Adult Education Service (WAES) using the Code Institute learning platform. The course equips learners with full-stack software development skills, making them ready to enter the digital workforce in various roles. Digital Academy leader Candice Fanning […]