What is a back-end developer?

3 years ago

There are a handful of positions that make up the "back end" or "server" side of a tech project, but the most important one is the back-end developer. A back-end developer is responsible for making sure that all data coming to and from an application can be stored on a server. This data can be anything - text, pictures, video, whatever you desire. The backend developer is also in charge of integrating all this data into databases so it's accessible to users through their own devices.

Common types of databases


SQLite is perhaps the most popular open-source database. It's also known as what is referred to as a "sacred cow." This means it's uncommon for many web developers to know how to manipulate it and make sweeping changes (such as adding columns). It is also the most lightweight version of SQL.


MySQL is not only one of the most popular databases, but it has a very strong community, as well. If you need a database, chances are good that there is an open-source version already installed on your server.


This is another supported database by many developers and even "gurus." It's known for very flexible queries and many benefits over such traditional databases as SQLite or MySQL.


This is a breakaway from the traditional database systems. Rather than storing data in rows and columns, this database stores data as objects. It's also known for being relatively speedy in saving and retrieving information.


This is generally found on large databases of any kind. It's known for being very reliable and scalable.

As you can see, the field of databases is broad and your choice will be mostly based on your own personal preference.

What does a back-end developer do?

The back end is primarily used for storing and retrieving data. The best way to learn what this means for you is by understanding the core parts of any application: data storage, database, and a web server. A web server serves up content on the internet. You can interpret this to mean anything from a simple site for your own personal use to a large-scale virtual data center. These are the three major parts of most websites you'll encounter:

Data Storage

This is the raw data that will be consumed by your application. It's usually stored in databases and used as "content" for the website.


This is where the data stored by Data storage is consolidated and made accessible to users through software applications.

Web Server

This is where your website will be rendered. When you visit a website, your web browser makes a request to the webserver (which you can see as part of the HTTP section of the URL). This request will contain information such as your IP address, your device, and information about how you're accessing the website. The web server then sends back a page in response to this request.

Back-end developer skills

A back-end developer's primary job is to manage this process. The more up-to-date and secure a website is, the better. Back-end developers also provide support for the following core aspects:


The programming language in which most web applications are built using. It's used to manage data storage and handling requests from users. It's also used to facilitate database integration (which we'll get into later).


This is a programming language just like PHP, but with some specific differences.


This controls how the website looks and responds. If you want a site to look like this page, then you'll need CSS. There are many different types of styles and each one can have its own unique code and "language. "


This is what back-end developers use to actually insert content into databases. They are responsible for the language and all queries.


This is a very popular database used by many developers. It's the most lightweight of all the databases we mentioned earlier and has been completely "sacred" so it's considered a bad form to manipulate it.


This is used to do more advanced and actionable requests to the database. Imagine a button you can click on a website that will load new content into your database.


This is the programming language used to run your website. If you need a dynamic or interactive website, then this is where a developer must put in work.


This is a newer language that allows for more dynamic and interactive websites. Do you want to see an example of this? Then visit the developer website of Mozilla. It features many different and very interactive web pages.

Backend developer Job Description

A back-end developer's job entails the following tasks:

Code execution

This is where all programming takes place. With PHP, you'll insert, change, or delete data in your database using code and have it rendered on your actual website.


This is the actual process of sending your code to a server for execution. It can be done through FTP or by using some other tool.

Data integration

This is the process of consolidating and integrating data into your website's database. For example, you have an RSS feed for a page on your website and would like to incorporate it within your database too. You'll need to be able to add data and retrieve it for a web page.


This is the process of fixing bugs and making general improvements to your website. Most websites you use every day will be fixed and updated on a regular basis.


This is the process of preventing malicious attacks on your website from hackers. If you have an e-commerce website where people are able to buy products online, then this is of utmost importance!

More technical ideas for back-end developers include OOP, or Object-Oriented Programming, which what most web applications are based on.

Most employers will use a mixture of a contractor and employee model when hiring. However, sometimes, these roles are blurred together as they are both on the same team (if you're working within the same company).

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