Back-end Development

Back-end Development
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Last Time

In the last blog I talked about the very basics of working on the web as well as Development and Design, or Front-end and Back-end development. I listed some of the very basic skill sets used by both roles in hopes of breaking down the roles in to more easily digested bits of information, or “snackables” that are so common place online today. If you want to go back and see what I said in more detail, you can do so at: You want to Work in Web Development and Design?

Next Time

So what is the goal of this blog? It’s simple: to educate and share information to those that are just starting out in the field and are looking for some clarification. We’ll go over some common roles, skill sets and (further along) techniques that will hopefully help you in your education and career choice(s).

This Time

For this session, I want to start talking about Back-end Development. As a refresher, back-end development deals with how a website or app deals with the communication and reaction to user interaction and information. For example:

  • Someone entered a bunch of data- where is that information stored?
  • What is done with that information?
  • Should any information go back to the user?

The back-end of an app or website usually has a server (it’s the engine), an interface and a database (where the information is stored). A Back-end Developers would create and maintain those three items which allows the app or website to work in the first place. Typically this is done through a wide variety and volume of code.

Back-end Skill Sets

“You keep talking about code with Back-End Development. Can you be more specific?” I sure can. But with todays rapidly evolving technology base and constant improvement, there’s no way I can create an inclusive list of all of the code and skills you’ll need. I’ll touch base on some of the existing methods but these are always changing and improving so take that with a grain of salt. In order to make the three main components of a site or app communicate effectively (the server, interface, and database) back-end developers typically use server-side programming languages. These languages are much more complex than those that are used to design the interface like HTML, CSS, Javascript and more. In order for the application to talk to the server languages such as PHP, Ruby, Python, Java, and .Net are implemented. Finally, MySQL, Oracle, and SQL Server are used on the database to find, save, or change data and send it back to the user. Finally, knowledge of version control software like SVN, CVS, or Git are always appreciated at every stage. Here is a bullet list for easier digestion of what was just stated. Remember, this is just a starters list and by no means lists them all.

Interface (typically done by Front-End Developers)

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • Javascript


  • PHP
  • Ruby
  • Python
  • Java
  • .Net


  • MySQL
  • Oracle
  • SQL Server

Version Control

  • SVN
  • CVS
  • Git

So what does this mean?

When you were looking around the web, you typed in a question or phrase into your browser or app. In the fraction of a second, your interface sent out this question from your device to a server. The server searched for the info you were looking for, through a database and found it. It then sent that information back to the server which, in turn, sent it back to your device. All of this information sharing and data/programming conversion is all accomplished thanks to the hard work of the Back-end Developer. If they were really good (and most of them are), you probably had no idea any of this ever happened.

I’m still having a hard time telling the difference apart from Front-end and Back-end Development …

That’s okay because it’s a complex and a technical issue. Try and think of a house being built. Front-end is the interior designers. They pick the paint, the hardwood floors, the furniture and windows. All of the pieces that you interact with and make it livable and cozy. Back-end are the people that make the blueprints. They decide whether the house is a connected condo, a ten bedroom mansion or a one bedroom starter home. Does the kitchen connect to the living room? Are the walls structurally sound enough to hold up the whole building? Do you need a fireplace and is there adequate ventilation? Does the plumbing support the size of the home? These are just as, if not more important than the “look and feel” of the home. You need both roles to work in cohesion with each other to make a truly great product.

…that’s great, but why should I listen to you?

My name is John Maier and I have 16+ years of teaching and over 25 years experience in UI/UX and front-end development. I am the Head of Design for an international company that creates apps and websites for a variety of government roles in Europe and abroad. I’ve worked for fortune 15 companies in both entertainment and health care fields. One of the biggest issues I’ve always had with education and learning environments is that they teach with the assumption that everything will always work smoothly and with level headed people. This is rarely the case as often egos, politics and technical issues complicate matters. This blog will be honest and from my point of view- what I like to call “the real world.” As with any complicated topic, there can be 50 ways to do something differently than the way I suggest or discuss. You may not agree with my decisions or conclusions- to think otherwise would be vain. But that’s okay- I’m always willing to listen to other ideas as communication, discussion and yes, disagreements are how we learn and grow. Find out more about our Web Developer program.