Backend, also spelled as back end or back-end, refers to the components of a computer system, app, or other structure that users do not usually see. The backend part provides services and data to the user-facing side of a system. It is the behind-the-scenes portion of a program or web application, including the parts that handle data storage and management, data analysis, security, and other services. Backend operations are initiated by programming commands and frameworks, such as Java and Node.js, as well as databases, such as MySQL and MongoDB. Backend operations are also handled by APIs, which provide a set of tools for developers to easily access and manipulate data.
Typically, when people mention the term “backend”, they are referring to the backend processes, code, or the backend developer. This term is in contrast to the frontend, which refers to a program’s or website’s user interface. Simply put, the backend is the “data access layer,” while the frontend is the “presentation layer.” These two components of a program are integral to the functioning of the overall system and allow the user to interact with the program in a meaningful way.
Examples of Backend Processes
- Processing an incoming web page request. The process starts when a user types a URL into their browser. The browser sends a request to the server, which interprets the request and looks for the requested page. If the page is found, the server sends the page back to the browser, which then displays the page to the user.
- Running a script (PHP, ASP, JSP, etc.) to generate HTML. It is a way to dynamically create HTML pages from a script. This is useful in cases where a website needs to display content that changes frequently, such as a news website or an e-commerce store. Instead of manually coding HTML for each page, a script can be used to generate the HTML automatically. This reduces the amount of time needed to make changes to the website and helps to ensure that all pages are consistent with each other.
- Accessing data, such as an article, from a database using an SQL query. SQL stands for Structured Query Language and is a powerful language used to access, manipulate and manage data in databases. By writing an SQL query, you can retrieve the exact information you need from the database. For example, if you need to access an article from the database, you can write an SQL query to retrieve the article from the database based on certain criteria such as the article’s title, author, date, etc. The result of the SQL query will be the article that you are looking for.
- Storing or updating records in a database. This is done by writing code that will add, modify, or delete records from the database. This process is important for keeping track of data and ensuring that the database remains up-to-date and accurate.
- Encrypting and decrypting data. It is a security measure used to protect data from being accessed by unauthorized users. Encryption is the process of taking plaintext data and transforming it into unreadable ciphertext, making it more secure and difficult to access. Decryption is the inverse process of taking encrypted data and returning it to its original plaintext form.
- Handling file uploads and downloads. It involves securely storing the files that are uploaded, ensuring that they are properly secured and accessible only to those who should have access, and then providing a secure, reliable way to access and download the files.
What Is the Back End Developer Responsible for?
Back end developers are responsible for the server-side development of a website or application. They create logic that enables the functioning of a website or app and ensure that the front-end of the project interacts correctly with the back-end. They are responsible for the database, server, API, and application logic. Additionally, they develop and maintain the security of the product overall and ensure that the website or application performs optimally.
The key responsibilities of a back end developer are:
- Designing and developing server-side web applications.
- Writing and maintaining efficient server-side code.
- Integrating user-facing elements with server-side logic.
- Designing and implementing data storage solutions.
- Identifying and debugging application performance issues.
- Working with front-end developers to integrate user-facing elements with server-side logic.
- Developing and deploying well-structured web services.
- Creating secure and efficient web applications.