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Basics of Backend Development

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.

Backend Developer Skills

  • Backend Programming Languages
  • Databases
  • Server
  • APIs

Types of Backend Development Languages

There are two kinds of backend programming languages

  • Object-oriented (OOP)
  • Functional

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.

Languages used in object-oriented programming languages are

  • Python, Java, .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.

Languages used in Functional programming languages are

  • Haskell, Clojure, SQL, Ruby

1) Backend languages

1) PHP

 PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) is a general-purpose scripting language geared towards web development. It was originally created by Danish-Canadian programmer Rasmus Lerdorf in 1994. On a web server, the result of the interpreted and executed PHP code – which may be any type of data, such as generated HTML or binary image data – would form the whole or part of an HTTP response. Various web template systems, web content management systems, and web frameworks exist which can be employed to orchestrate or facilitate the generation of that response. Additionally, PHP can be used for many programming tasks outside of the web context, such as standalone graphical applications and robotic drone control. PHP code can also be directly executed from the command line.

COMPANIES THAT USE PHP

Here are some companies using PHP in their dev teams:

Facebook, Lyft, Mint, Hootsuite, Viber, Buffer, DocuSign

2) PYTHON

Python was first created by Guido van Rossum in 1991. Python is an interpreted high-level general-purpose programming language. Its design philosophy emphasizes code readability with its use of significant indentation. Its language constructs as well as its object-oriented approach aim to help programmers write clear, logical code for small and large-scale projects.

COMPANIES THAT USE PYTHON

Among the biggest companies using Python as a programming language are:

Uber, Pinterest, Mozilla, Spotify, Quora, Pandora, Netflix, Asana

3) RUBY

Ruby is an interpreted, high-level, general-purpose programming language. It was designed and developed in the mid-1990s by Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto in Japan.

Ruby is dynamically typed and uses garbage collection and just-in-time compilation. It supports multiple programming paradigms, including procedural, object-oriented, and functional programming

COMPANIES THAT USE RUBY

Here are some of the companies using Ruby as a backend language:

Airbnb, Codecademy, TaskRabbit, Kickstarter, RapGenius, Scribd, AngelList

4) Java

Java was originally developed by James Gosling at Sun Microsystems and released in 1995 as a core component of Sun Microsystems’ Java platform.  It is a general-purpose programming language intended to let application developers write once, run anywhere (WORA)   meaning that compiled Java code can run on all platforms that support Java without the need for recompilation. Java applications are typically compiled to bytecode that can run on any Java virtual machine (JVM) regardless of the underlying computer architecture. The syntax of Java is similar to C and C++, but has fewer low-level facilities than either of them.

COMPANIES THAT USE JAVA

There are some big names among companies that use Java backend technologies, including these:

Airbnb, Uber, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Groupon, eBay, Evernote, Hubspot

5) .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.

COMPANIES THAT USE .NET

A few of the companies using .NET as a programming language:

Microsoft, Starbucks, Docplanner, Stack Overflow

6) SQL

Structured Query Language or SQL is the most common query language. SQL is used to interact with databases.

SQL is great for beginners to learn since it’s a declarative language. A declarative language allows coders to ‘declare’ the results they would like to see, without specifying the steps or process for the said result.

A query language like SQL is great for those who want to take advantage of the wealth of knowledge stored in databases.

COMPANIES THAT USE SQL

Since SQL is a query language, its use is broad and widespread. If a company or enterprise has a database, it is extremely probable that they are using SQL to query it.

7) JavaScript

JavaScript is a language that can be used for both the front end and back end.

It’s a great language for beginners because it is a higher-level language and there is little setup involved (you can start coding in your browser).

Because the language is so flexible, objects created in this language are slow. It is also difficult to maintain and scale, as with most dynamically typed languages.

Having said that, the language is ubiquitous, which means the community is large—affording you a slew of resources and plenty of opportunities for employment if you know JavaScript backend technologies.

COMPANIES THAT USE JAVASCRIPT

Famous companies using JavaScript include:

Airbnb, Codecademy, HotelTonight, eBay, Square, Asana

2) 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.

There are two types of databases available in the market – SQL, and NoSQL. A SQL database is one where the data is mapped in a table and each one is linked to another in a significant way. SQL databases work on queries and produce results based on them. The NoSQL database where, unlike SQL, there is no need to structure the data beforehand. NoSQL databases work essentially on JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) and XML (Extensible Markup Language

3) Server

Every web application that you see today runs on a remote PC called a server. On the internet, the term “server” is commonly used to refer to the computer system that receives requests for web-based files which includes HTML, CSS, Javascript, etc., and sends those files to the client.

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

4) APIs

An API is a set of definitions and protocols for building and integrating application software. API stands for an application programming interface.

APIs let your product or service communicate with other products and services without having to know how they’re implemented. This can simplify app development, saving time and money. When you’re designing new tools and products—or managing existing ones—APIs give you flexibility; simplify design, administration, and use; and provide opportunities for innovation.

APIs are a simplified way to connect your own infrastructure through cloud-native app development, but they also allow you to share your data with customers and other external users. Public APIs represent unique business value because they can simplify and expand how you connect with your partners, as well as potentially monetize your data (the Google Maps API is a popular example).

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 are 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.

Common skills needed for back end development

  • Basic understanding of front-end technologies HTML, JavaScript, and CSS
  • Working knowledge of back-end development (configuration, administration and management of databases and servers)
  • Server-side languages (e.g., PHP, C#, Java)
  • Database technologies (e.g., MySQL and SQL)
  • Security and authentication best practices
  • Experience writing RESTful APIs

Common back-end development jobs

Back-end development is an umbrella term that refers to the server-side of any application. The fundamentals of understanding how to build the back-end of an application can thus be applied to a number of different professions. Let’s took at the most common back-end development roles:

  • Back-end web developers: The most common job for back-end developers is to build the back end of a website. They are responsible for building and maintaining the database, server, and business logic behind a website.
  • Full-stack developers: Full-stack developers have a working knowledge of both the front-end and back-end of a technology stack. On small projects they may be the sole developer building a minimum viable product. On larger projects they are team leaders assisting with integration between the front and back end of an app.
  • Java developers: From websites to desktop applications, back-end developers who specialize in Java are in high-demand in the enterprise app industry.
  • Software developers: Depending on the job description, this could be another Java developer job or any of the other languages we listed above. Software development roles usually refer to non-website applications such as desktop apps.

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