Photo by Kevin Ku on Unsplash

The Back End Development Journey

From the browser to the server

Up next after my last post (The Front End Development Journey), is the Back End Development process. This can be a bit more involved and has about as much versatility to it as the previous two stages, if not more!

As a result, this means there is actually less documentation and often poorer in quality than of the other two fields. The Front End likely being the best and most documented of the three stages (UI/UX and Back End being the other two). Having said that let’s dig into this mysterious industry!

What Back End Dev actually is

Back End Development is building all the stuff that you don’t get to see happen. When you submit a form or log into your favorite site, these are actions that the Back End code and technologies handle.

Try to think of it as layers in an image, the foreground being the UI/UX component, the middle ground being the Front End component and the Back End being the background. Take any one of these away and the image falls apart, it no longer makes the same amount of sense and loses its continuity. In this case, it likely would not function at all.

When you sit at your computer and enter any kind of data into a website, you are using the Front End, designed by UI/UX teams, to communicate with the Back End. When you submit that data the browser sends it to a server which is a computer with different software on it. A different kind of operating system designed to handle the data the browser sends over.

A good example of this is logging into a website, first, you enter data then the data is then sent by the browser to the server. The server then checks that the login data matches what’s in the database then sends a response that basically says either “no and here’s why” or “yes, here ya go”, then a very specific response is then displayed to you the user. You are either logged in, or you are met with an indicator that something didn’t work.

In most cases, this means connecting to a database then adding, deleting, editing and sometimes just comparing the information sent, with the information stored in the database. There are other functions that backend provides as well which we will discuss in more detail later.

Other aspects of Back End development

Back End development also handles the stuff we care most about but never consider like the security of your information. Keeping your passwords, payment information and the data used and collected on those sites out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have it!

It also handles the ability for one site to communicate with another, like when Facebook asks you to give permission to another site. The bottom line is there is a lot that goes into this stage of development, and it handles a lot of different details that are vital to today’s information age. Now let’s talk a little bit about the technologies used.

The technologies used

For now, I’m going to focus on the languages used for this stage of development. There is as large a variety of software used as there are languages, however, there are fewer languages to choose from. The biggest in the industry are Javascript, PHP, MySQL (for databases), Python, Java, and Ruby. These languages are robust and can not only be used for websites but many other types of Back End Software development as well!

They are all used to communicate with the server for some purpose or another based on the specific request the browser sends. The languages used are determined by the type of server software the hosting service uses. For example, we use javascript to communicate with a Node.js server while we use PHP to communicate with servers like Xampp and Lamp and similar software.

Additionally, query languages like MySQL are used to communicate with databases in conjunction with the aforementioned languages. For example, one might use PHP to write and send a MySQL request to a server to confirm login information.

Wrapping up

In conclusion, it’s safe to say that while the Back End can seem like a scary mysterious place. It’s not, it just needs a little more illumination on it than it currently has! The Back End aspect of web development is a very cool place to be and in today’s age, it’s a good thing to have a basic understanding of how it works. I hope that this article helped provide a little clarity and illumination that has been so deeply needed on the subject. In my next article, we will start digging into the specific details of the Full Stack Development!

Special shout out to Robert Manolis for his gracious assist on this matter.

Front-End Developer by day, UI/UX designer by night! I’m an enigma with a desire to learn and teach others. Tech, Art, Philosophy and more

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