Backend, also called back end or back-end, refers to the components of a computer system, app, or other structure that users only sometimes 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. Programming commands and frameworks, such as Java and Node.js, and databases, such as MySQL and MongoDB, initiate backend operations. APIs also handle backend operations, providing tools for developers to access and manipulate data easily.
Typically, when people mention “backend,” they refer to the backend processes, code, or developer. This term contrasts the front end, which refers to a program’s or website’s user interface. 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 meaningfully.
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 create HTML pages from a script dynamically. 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 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 database data. By writing an SQL query, you can retrieve the information you need from the database. For example, you need to access an article from the database. In that case, you can write an SQL query to retrieve the article from the database based on criteria such as the article’s title, author, date, etc. The result of the SQL query will be the article you seek.
- 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 essential for keeping track of data and ensuring the database remains up-to-date and accurate.
- Encrypting and decrypting data. It is a security measure to protect data from unauthorized users’ access. Encryption transforms plaintext data 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 uploaded files, 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 product’s security 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.