… 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.