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Backend: What Is It, What Is It For, And How Is It Built?

In this article, we talk about Backend. Let’s see what it is, what it is for, and how it is built. What are the languages ​​and technologies behind a Backend, and how to become a Backend developer? Let’s start from the beginning. Since the dawn of web development, any project has been divided into two portions: server side and client side. The first represented the set of activities of the application that listened to the server, received page requests, and managed the database.

The second consisted of everything that the server, in response to a request, downloaded to the browser: HTML and CSS style sheets as well as Javascript code. Very often, the same person or group dealt with both sides. Not infrequently, a PHP programmer knew how to create and manage MySQL databases and prepare web pages complete with Javascript code, perhaps enriched by a productive library such as jQuery. This is to name one of the most common development stacks, but the same was true for other types of technologies such as Python and Microsoft.

All this could have been considered sufficient until a few years ago when programming on the Net mainly consisted of creating web pages. However, both the client and server sides have diversified since then, so much so that they require highly specialized distinct figures: on the one hand, experienced developers of Javascript frameworks such as Angular.js and React, and on the other, programmers qualified in server technologies. Many factors have influenced this revolution, which is still ongoing:

  1. provision of services in the Cloud;
  2. birth and dissemination of NoSQL databases;
  3. diffusion of mobile applications;
  4. application of authentication methods based on Social Networks;
  5. constantly growing and ever faster connections.

The server side has necessarily begun to be seen not only as a sort of “provider of web pages” but as an independent application of considerable size, capable of performing various tasks and accepting dialogues with clients of all types: web apps (web pages to which client-side programming gives a lot of intelligence), mobile apps, desktop applications, electronic devices. All these fundamental roles now pass under the name of Backend, and the developers specialized in their management are figures that are increasingly sought after by companies.

What Does A Backend Specifically Do?

Understanding what a backend does allows you to know what skills are needed to become a professional in the sector. Here are some essential aspects:

  1. First and foremost, backends are applications: They allow you to process and export data in many formats, interpret files of all kinds, interact with databases, and much more. To work as a backend developer, it is essential to be able to program in one or more languages ​​, including Java, Python, PHP, and Javascript on Node.js, and to be able to deal with problem management even with a pinch of UML visual design;
  2. Manage databases: All data that a backend manages is entered into databases. In many cases, these are relational databases based on MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQL Server, etc. Still, in the last decade, there has been a significant affirmation of the so-called NoSQL, which guarantees better performance in various cases, use in clusters, and programming models closer to the needs of developers. Among the most widespread, we find MongoDB and Redis;
  3. For a backend to be used by its clients, it must offer interfaces through which to be contacted. The most common way is to offer REST-type APIs, an approach that is convenient to apply and perfectly usable with any programming language.

Anyone wishing to become a backend programmer should delve into each aspect. The best approach is to choose a programming language – perhaps by trying more than one, you can find the one you like – and start developing programs gradually integrating techniques for interacting with a database and defining your REST APIs.

How Do You Build A Backend?

First, a backend can be built yourself. We rely on an application that acts as a server, like an Apache Web Server, rather than Nginx or Node.js for the Javascript world, and we create our application on that. We’ll have to face everything on our own regarding the production of the APIs to be exposed, interaction with the database, and so on. This way, we obtain a perfect product for our purposes, tailored to our business, and allocated to the preferred server. 

The problem is that the cost in person-hours will only sometimes be negligible, and in the case of rather large backends, the commitment in terms of development and maintenance may not be so limited. Furthermore, there is always the management of the servers, both from a hardware and software point of view. All of this can be partially or alleviated by subscribing to Cloud services. This will affect various management and operational aspects. First of all, Cloud means strengthening and a simultaneous lightening of different aspects. You can use these services to create virtual machines that eliminate the problem of server management. 

It can be used to have a very elastic database with or without API for interaction. Everything we don’t want to worry about in person can be “abstracted” into the Cloud. However, the Cloud has costs to bear. New-generation services are based on the general rule of paying for what you consume. They have rates commensurate with the services used and can be adapted, more or less dynamically. A handy Cloud service for creating a backend is Firebase. Among the various platforms, we take it as an example as it offers many advantages:

  1. It is an ever-expanding environment as a property of Google;
  2. Offers a multitude of services not only aimed at the developer. It allows you to load web pages and use its NoSQL databases to manage to push notifications (sent by the server to clients on its initiative) but also marketing campaigns, statistics, and much more;
  3. offers software libraries for integration with Android and iOS mobile apps, Javascript web apps, and Unity applications;
  4. It has affordable tariff plans and a free plan to study and experiment with very generous limits.

Without a doubt, Cloud backends are gaining more and more space than “homemade” ones, the strengths are considerable, and the costs are advantageous. An essential aspect is that all these platforms can be edited with programs written in the most common languages. They allow you to load Java, Python, Javascript, PHP, and more.


Ultimately, that of a backend developer is an exciting training path because it is varied. You can choose your preferred language, apply the technologies, and integrate everything with your existing tools. Above all, orienting yourself in this sector allows you to acquire general notions that will always be useful in other contexts. Understanding how the HTTP protocol works, the REST model, or a database is a necessary experience for being a developer of both Backend and Android mobile apps. Therefore a similar path solidly amplifies one’s cultural background.

Also Read: Android App Design, Components And Tools

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