… This article will explore briefly – but essentially – what a back-end developer is, what skills one would need to do this job properly and will also provide some advice for aspiring back-end developers. We shall definitely touch a little on the difference between this job’s and a front-end developer’s responsibilities, in case someone wonders…
… But before that, I need to answer my ever-lasting question: What Is the Workplace of a Back-End Developer Like?
… This is a question I have always asked myself. Always wondered how a workplace – or a working room at home – of a software engineer looks like. They should be either extremely neat or super-messy, right?… The life of a back-end developer typically involves working long hours; as such they can be found almost anywhere – at home, in their offices, in coffee stores, on a bench in the park… always with their laptops on their laps or on a table, right? … Right! Since they could be working as full-time permanent employees in both large corporations and in small or medium-sized companies.They can also work as freelancers or independent consultants, or as contractors for an employment agency.
…Did we just describe the dream-job of any young software engineer? Whereas being a front-end developer requires creating everything you see on a website – like buttons, links, animations and more -, thus being in charge of the look and feel of a website (most of the times respecting pre-set frameworks and designs of other people), a back-end developer builds and maintains the technology that powers those components which, together, enable the user-facing side of the website to even exist in the first place.
In case you are an aspiring back-end developer, you need to be aware that although back-end engineering has a reputation of being tough or complex, it definitely does not have to be this way. It is a job you can learn by doing: on your own time, on your own computer you can set up a simple website and use a back-end framework. It does not have to do anything too complicated — maybe just create some simple data and save it and look it up — but once you have your first webpage up and running, you are basically halfway there, to soon being able to become a back-end software engineer. That is, a function absolutely essential these days.
As of December 2022, the Internet contains more than 1.9 billion websites (not all are functional, though). And counting. Websites are now a critical component for any business to stay competitive. Web development tends to break down into three main concentrations: front-end developer, back-end developer and full-stack developer.
There. Your (future) job is a key job for companies to have or to outsource – and still in relatively high demand.
…getting more to the point,
What Does a Back-End Developer Do, Specifically?
A back-end developer writes code that forms the backbone of a website or of an app. Back-end developers are the experts who build and maintain the mechanisms that process data and perform actions on websites. Unlike front-end developers, who control everything you can see on a website, back-end developers are involved in data storage, security and other server-side functions that you cannot see.
Back-end developers ensure the website performs correctly, focusing on databases, back-end logic, application programming interface (APIs), architecture, and servers. They use code that helps browsers communicate with databases, store, understand, and delete data. On a team, back-end developers collaborate with front-end developers, product managers, principal architects and website testers to build the structure of a website or mobile app. Back-end developers must be familiar with many kinds of tools and frameworks, including languages such as Python, Java, and Ruby. They make sure the back-end performs quickly and responsively to front-end user requests.
Here is what many back-end developers do on a day-to-day basis (as per Columbia Engineering School – The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences):
Build and maintain websites by using various tools, frameworks and languages to determine how best to develop intuitive, user-friendly prototypes and turn them into websites. This requires an understanding of cross-platform functionality and compatibility.
Write high-quality code that is required for sustainable web applications.
Perform quality assurance (QA) testing: in other words, create and oversee testing schedules to optimize user interface and experience, ensuring optimal display on various browsers and devices.
Assess efficiency and speed, because once a website is up and running, and during updates and edits, developers need to assess its performance and scalability, adjusting code as necessary.
Troubleshoot and debug and then communicate the results to project managers, stakeholders and QA teams.
Train and support, as most of the times the client teams need ongoing support, along with leading training and mentorship for junior developers.
If I Were to Choose This Job, What Skills Would I Have to Have?
In order to make the server, application and database communicate with each other, back-end developers use server-side languages like PHP, Ruby, Python, Java and .Net to build an application. They also need to use tools like MySQL, Oracle and SQL Server to find, save, or change data and serve it back to the user in front-end code.
Job openings for back-end developers (see ours here, in complete updated spectrum: https://www.vonconsulting.ro/jobs/) often also call for experience with PHP frameworks like Zend, Symfony and CakePHP; experience with version control software like SVN, CVS, or Git; and experience with Linux as a development and deployment system.
Last but not least,
Is Back-End Developer a Good Job?
… well, our times became competitive for back-end web developers, but you can rest easy as long as your skills are up to date and you aim for a fair pay.
In case one would compare what is easier between front-end development and back-end, the answer is actually back-end. Moreover, back-end developers tend not to find their jobs stressful (as per our 20-year experience interacting with potential candidates for this job), which likely contributes positively to career satisfaction.
… well. For non-technical people, the easiest to understand job description – as in ‚imagine’ what that might be – is the front-end developer.
Apparently this is one of the most sought for job during the past couple of months, as per our CV applications.
Is it fancy?
Because when you visit a website, the design elements you see were created by a front-end developer.
How gifted must one be to be able to create amazing websites? (not including the templates in this ‘owe-rhetoric question, though).
What technical knowledge must one have to transform information into logical and well-designed and structured websites?
Everything you see on a website – like buttons, links, animations and more -, were created by a front end web developer. Front end developers are in charge of the look and feel of the website. It is the front end developer’s job to take the vision and design concept from the client and implement it through code.
Front-end web development is also known as client-side development.
The challenge associated with front end development is that the tools and techniques used to create the front end of a website change constantly and so the developer needs to constantly be aware of how the field is developing. This is further complicated by the fact that users now use a large variety of devices with varying screen sizes and resolutions, thus forcing the designer to take into consideration these aspects when designing the site. They need to ensure that their site comes up correctly in different browsers (cross-browser), different operating systems (cross-platform) and different devices (cross-device). All these require careful planning on the side of the developer.
What Skills Does One Need to Become a Front End Developer?
As one is developing the website or the application, there will be errors in the code that need fixing. Debugging is the act of identifying those errors (“bugs”) and fixing them. Normally, a frontend software developer is requested to have testing and debugging skills – or the willingness to develop them. Testing is a very important skill to learn, as writing tests for one’s code is a way to ensure that the code is doing what it is supposed to do.
Last but not least, one would need – preferably – problem solving skills, as it is important to learn/ know how to tackle a problem, break it down into smaller manageable pieces and troubleshoot the issue in the web applications.
Would You Like to Apply for a Front–End Developer Career?
Register here: https://www.vonconsulting.ro/jobs/
…and follow our LinkedIn page for updates on the newest job openings: https://www.linkedin.com/company/von-consulting/
Businesses nowadays are continually looking for ways to optimize their processes. Agile is around for more than two decades and helps teams deliver value to their customers fast and effectively.
Agile was founded based on values and principles.
Agile is neither a methodology nor a philosophy to get things done, but rather a collection of beliefs that teams use to make decisions. Or, said alternatively, agile is the umbrella term for many types of management methodologies. Scrum, Kanban, and Extreme Programming (XP) are each considered different agile methodologies.
Agile principles help guide teams on the right path, even when the next step is unsure or undefined.
How is this possible?
Here is a manifesto that we believe in (source: www.scrum.org)
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan
…not saying that the items on the right have no value. Not at all.
The items on the left weight more in Agile work of software engineering teams.
Let us go more in-depth: How Does Agile Work and How Difficult Is It?
Instead of following a well-defined and strict plan, agile teams focus on continuous improvement and efficiency. They work under “sprints,” which consist of specific tasks or deliverables in a certain time frame. Each sprint typically lasts from two to four weeks – subject to the product in development.
However, sprints are not used in every single agile approach. This just proves what agile is – a set of principles and values. Before agile, software development lifecycles were used, such as Waterfall, focusing on delivering software through a linear and rigid process.
Agile eliminated the set of rules, procedures and hierarchies. It started with breaking the process into manageable actions that can be continually improved until the primary goal is reached. What mattered was to deliver the best result possible.
Since 2001, when is was first named/ founded by 17 engineers, agile has become a globally accepted mindset for managing software engineering projects – but not only.
If we were to demonstrate a high-level overview of how agile typically works, it would be like this:
Step 1: Define the project: Agile teams start by defining the overall goals and objectives of the project, as well as any constraints or assumptions.
Step 2: Break the project into smaller pieces: Next, the team breaks the project down into smaller pieces of work, called “user stories,” that can be completed in a single iteration.
Step 3: Prioritize the work: The team then prioritizes the user stories based on their importance and dependencies.
Step 4: Plan the iteration: During the planning phase, the team estimates the amount of work that can be completed in the upcoming iteration and selects the user stories that will be worked on.
Step 5: Work on the iteration: During the iteration, the team works on completing the selected user stories. They may also hold daily stand-up meetings to check in with each other and identify any obstacles that need to be addressed.
Step 6: Review and adjust: At the end of the iteration, the team reviews the work that was completed and adjusts their plans for the next iteration based on what they learned.
This entire process is repeated until the project is completed.
It is important to note that while agile has many benefits, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Organizations should carefully consider whether this is the right approach for their needs and for their existing teams and projects.
None expects a fabulous life and, equally, none knows how thrilling it is: the life of an IT recruiter @VonConsulting.
…but first, a note: of the ‘less spectacular’ career options that we see around us – lots and lots – many of them are chosen due to passion. A person will not be able to perform sustainably well on a certain position unless there is passion in what he/ she does.
If about artists, doctors or lawyers we could immediately infer a certain calling, For IT recruiters….. well… not really, right?
An IT recruiter at @VonConsulting chose this specific career because she wanted to work with people in technology. She is equally passionate about people and about technology and, as such, it came as a natural choice to take this step.
This is our 3-minute Q&A to her:
Q1: Why did you choose to work as an IT recruiter?
A1: I believe that the IT industry has a very big impact in our world. To this I added my ability to discover the skills that others have and to guide them to some extent towards the role that is most suitable for them.
Q2: How can you tell when an IT recruiter is successful?
A2: An essential thing to be successful as a recruiter in the IT industry is the passion for technology. If this exists, there will also be the curiosity to discover what a person needs to do and know in order to be employed and perform in a technical role. A successful IT recruiter combines two main categories of skills: soft skills and ‘hard’ technical skills.
Q3: What motivates you in your everyday work?
A3: My master’s degree in Psychology made me realize that I like to communicate and work with people, discover them and observe what motivates them. It is not an easy thing to do, but it is a challenge that is definitely worth all the effort. I chose the IT recruiter
career because I knew from the beginning that I have many things to learn via this role. I have learned a lot from the interaction with very good people from a technical point of view, always ready to find solutions for the problems they encounter. I had the opportunity to recruit people for very interesting and diverse projects, which, through technological innovation, improve our everyday life.
It happened to me to discover very young people, who had just finished their studies and were trying to find a place to work, but who did not have the necessary experience to stand out. Many times, such people motivate me in what I do, because they have so much energy
and a great desire to learn and develop.
Q4: Any challenges to mention?…
A4: …Working with people is always challenging. It is not always a smooth ride.
…Is it for the glory? 😊
About 20 years ago it must have been mainly for the brains. These days the pay weights significantly towards the choice of becoming a software developer. A software developer in his/ her 30s could earn annually as much as a mid-50s established CEO – or more.
However, even for that pay, we, the people ‘from the other side’ – e.g. business consultants, lawyers, entrepreneurs, financiers, auditors etc. – can sometimes hardly understand the choice. Why would someone sit for hours in front of the computer and… write some numbers and formulas?
… eventually, we got to get it: it is a means of creation. It IS creation.
TO CREATE SOMETHING.
When you create something with your hands using a palpable material – such as clay or the painting brush or the spray container that gets you the graffiti on the walls -, creation is visible by others as you mean it and others can see it grow step by step in an understandable way.
However, when you create something with the keyboard, it is not understandable by the general public until it works. The magic is seen at the end and generally in a given context.
So, there! This must be the attractiveness of becoming a software developer: the magic of creating something. Intrinsic to all humans is to create and the smartest brains of the planet create via writing code.
Software developers use programming and design knowledge to build software that helps people or institutions achieve certain objectives. They also test and deploy that software based on the specifications they have received.
Today, software developers are some of the most vital people in the many aspects of the economy. Software isn’t just codes, video games and apps, it’s the driving force of every computerized device on the planet.
Specifically, What Does a Software Developer Do?
Software developers design, program, build, test, debug, deploy and maintain software using many different skills and tools. They also help build software systems that power networks and devices and ensure that those systems remain functional.
Their job may also involve meeting with clients to determine the needs for a software solution, which will help them design the final product.
While software developers work in a wide variety of industries, these days many are freelancers. Depending on the setting, a software developer may work alone or on a team with other developers and programmers. In general, larger companies tend to have teams of developers due to the complexity of the software they are designing. Outsourcing teams of software developers is quite frequent these days, as well, as one can find multiple skills and availabilities when you outsource or lease software developers.
Who would be the winner of a ‘happy with my work even after 20 years’ contest if implemented globally within the software engineers?
… We would place our bets on several baskets, yet for sure a significant part would weight on the embedded software developer basket. While the rest of the professionals – say, business managers, artists, lawyers, doctors etc. – might believe that the only thing software engineers need to know is how to code and to stay updated to the latest technological developments, there is a huge part of their work that is kept in shadow – intentionally, dare we joke? J So that the competition does not become too tight? J – and that is the source of immense work satisfaction: diversity of tasks throughout one’s career.
The keywords that describe best what an embedded software engineer does are plenty – all conveying towards something that most of the employees of the world aim for. Novelty. Exercise vocation. Create. Connect.
Our 20-year experience in the field made us believe that embedded software engineer is a vocation. It is known for being a niche discipline within electronic engineering, more so than, say, desktop development. Yet it remains highly competitive at all levels. This is, with high degree of certainty, what makes an embedded software developer have a genuine passion and interest for technology and troubleshooting technical problems.
Why do most talented IT engineers become embedded software developers?
IoT devices are now part of our everyday lives and the general pace of technological change and innovation continues to gather unthought-of speed. There has never been a more exciting time to be a part of the embedded software community and become a professional in the field than the days we live in.
The demand for advanced and intelligent technology is largely consumer-driven and, as such, companies adapt their products and create new ones continuously. The need for qualified, experienced embedded software developers becomes implicit… and strong.
So what does an embedded software developer do?
He or she is responsible for designing, developing, optimising and implementing the software that is programmed into devices built around a microprocessor. They write code to solve problems and implement systems that make a physical hardware device work through software. From the concept right through to delivery; from the briefing, writing, testing and fixing stages to final release: these all fall into an embedded software developer’s ‘to do’ list.
To become an embedded software developer one needs a degree in computer engineering or a related field, as well as expertise in C/C++ programming, software configuration management (using tools such as Perforce, Git or SVN) and knowledge of specialised techniques for embedded programming.
Additionally, we, at VON Consulting, recommend for such positions that the future embedded software engineer in a client company’s team has a proven ability to read electronics schematics and troubleshoot problems and, ideally, experience with project management and software development life cycle.
Certainly, the basics presented below are a requirement, and we list them for the sake of accuracy that an embedded developer would always fancy:
- Communication protocols
- Design patterns
- Basic electronics
- Build environments
- Concurrent/parallel programming
- Real Time Operating Sytems
- Microprocessor and microcontroller fundamentals
Similar to business intelligence analyst and DevOps engineer, an embedded software engineer would preferably feel comfortable collaborating with other teams and third parties – e.g. clients. Ideally, they participate in briefing meetings with the latter, following that they will be proposing solutions and keeping them informed as the project progresses.
Individualistic embedded developers are also good assets to companies, working on specific topics, yet the preference goes towards team-players. Like almost anywhere else in our interconnected world.
… And it is, actually.
It is not us alone saying that, but the large number of young and brilliant engineers looking for a career that combines a passion for data with the ability to positively influence and support an organization.
Of the ‘young’ jobs that have been opened in the past decade for the talented engineers, business intelligence analyst is one. A very trendy one.
What does a business intelligence analyst (BIA) do?
He or she analyzes complex sets of data within a company to determine recommendations for business growth and improvement. Knowing how to properly collect and interpret data can have a significant impact on the future success of a business.
The practitioner who finds this job suited for the talent and knowledge accumulated is generally an engineer by education and a businessperson by formation and experience. Not only does such a person review data to produce finance and market intelligence reports, but also detects patterns and trends in a given market that may influence a company’s operations.
While the business intelligence analyst position is just one of many roles related to BI and analytics in large organizations, the number of such positions and their titles and responsibilities vary based mainly on the maturity level of the company’s data management programs and, mostly, on the essential need of BI that the respective industry requires.
Some multinational companies acting in tech might have BI architects, BI developers, BI analysts and other internally-derived titles.
Generally, a BIA works between IT and business operations; sometimes with finance division, as well. It comes without saying that a BIA works with a variety of people – both within the company and outside it – and with key stakeholders. Such an analyst monitors permanently the essential sources of information, the strategic technological conferences and international events, to remain aware of the business trends and industry at large. A BIA professional might need socializing skills, good communication skills and could have a large network that he or she can access and interact with.
When we recruit for BIA positions, we look for practitioners and consultants who have proficiency in understanding data and doing data modeling, profiling and validation and who gained significant expertise in using data mining, query, analysis, visualization and reporting tools.
Familiarity with database management systems and data warehouse technologies is also required, as well as critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.
The beauty of such a position lay with the fact that the person becomes a key provider of strategic information that the entire business relies. An engineer as well as a business professional; a statistician as well as an analyst.
To the always-frequent question whether a BIA needs to know how to code, our experience in recruiting for such positions showed us that a BI analyst’s familiarity with coding languages like Python, Java or R is often required.
Imagine a team of the smartest people you could find – software engineers. They work on various project sprints – say, a new product development – and you are sure the results will be amazing, as you have selected the best ones there were.
Yet how do you make sure that the operations are developed within the best time frame (e.g. could they work faster?… ) and how do you integrate their work with the deployment team?
… here is where the magic brain and hands of a DevOps engineer come in the game. An interface between development and operations, as the name gets self-explanatory: making sure that everything is geared towards releasing updates as efficiently as possible.
Basically, DevOps is the project manager’s, the facilitator’s or the event manager’s counterpart within the software division.
Ultimately, his or her work is about collaboration and removing barriers to it.
On the technical side and more concretely, DevOps engineers build, test and maintain the infrastructure and tools to allow for the speedy development and release of software.
In a nutshell, DevOps practices aim to simplify the development process of software.
When you invest in a strong DevOps engineer – or DevOps teams depending on the size of your organization and the scope of your project – you will find that:
- The various strands of your development and IT functions work better together
- You can release updates to your product more quickly
- You can automate a chunk of internal processes and free up hours of time that could be spent on other tasks
Even if organizations do not deploy frequently new products, a DevOps is still needed to create and release regular updates to the existing products much quicker than using the more traditional ‘waterfall’ development model.
How do you know that the DevOps engineer is doing his/ her work perfectly? It is when you do not notice that anything has changed . In today’s fast-paced environment, this type of function (read: ‘development’) is quickly becoming a necessity rather than a luxury.
Should a DevOps engineer know how to code? Or better, should he/ she have good communication skills?
… well, a DevOps practitioner needs not necessarily know how to code and needs not be an engineer in the traditional sense. Ideally, however, a DevOps engineer is an IT professional who works with software developers, system operators and admins, IT operations staff and others to oversee and/or facilitate code releases or deployments.
So he/ she needs to understand the IT infrastructure, as they have to improve it (sometimes, even to design it) and they also have to do performance testing and benchmarking – that is, evaluating how well and reliably systems run. These can be considered day-to-day responsibilities of a DevOps practitioner. Engineer, that is.
What else does a DevOps do? While optimizing release cycles, they also monitor and report further, aiming to reduce ‘time to detect’ (TTD) errors and ‘time to minimize’ (TTM) them. Last but not least, they do automation of key processes and keep a sharp eye on security issues.
… kind of cool, right?
Think further when selecting your DevOps engineer: he/ she will be running meetings, setting the schedule for releases and leading the review process, as well as getting hands-on with automation, complex software tools and infrastructure design. All these tasks indicate that one should look for impeccable organizer with strong communication and interpersonal skills. They should be approachable and empathetic. Sometimes, this trait might weight more than their technical skills.
So, find your ideal DevOps engineer and keep him/her close to your company. They are rare and they are precious, especially if they have about 12-15-year experience in the field and are uber-disciplined and charming.
As we said, they are worth their weight in gold.
… one last point: they should understand what an ‘agile’ business means these days.