If you made it to this page it might be safe to assume that you gave back end web development a thought or two. We have good news for you, because if you want to become one and work towards acquiring the right skillset you will be in demand for a very long time.
Not only that, but you will get some pretty desirable benefits along the way. You will get decent compensation, flexible work schedules, and a sense of accomplishment as you will generally be building enterprise-grade software.
Keep reading: we will walk you through everything you need to know about back end web development.
Back end web development in a nutshell
As you might already know there are typically 3 types of developers:
- Front end
- Back end
- Full stack
While front end developers work on user interfaces and full stack professionals do everything, the back end developer job focuses solely on the side of the applications you don’t see or directly touch base with.
Back end developers write the code that connects web applications to their dedicated web servers: The type of code that allows the application to interact with the users’ input and fetch corresponding data from databases.
Without the contributions of back end developers, web applications would only be a wireframe of pretty buttons to click. It would be without soul — no interaction whatsoever — or purpose.
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
1. Pick a programming language
If you need help choosing your first programming language then check out this article. When you know what language you want to learn, you can find comprehensive tutorials as well as a coding playground to practice your skills on websites like Sololearn and Code Academy.
2. Learn its principal framework
Think of frameworks as the groundwork on which you write your code. It is necessary to conform with a corresponding framework once you mastered the basics of a programming language.
Not convinced of their importance yet?
Here’s a list of what programming frameworks bring to the table. These frameworks provide you with a set of generic functionalities that construct the preliminary functions of your application’s back end operations.
3. Get a fundamental understanding of front end technologies
4. Get going with databases
Applications can only be dynamic if they are able to load data from databases. You need to learn a language that communicates with databases such as SQL. Once you’re comfortable with SQL, you need to get familiar with one or more database management systems.
Examples include MySQL, SQL Server, and PostgreSQL. Which one is the best for you?
The answer will depend on the web application you’re building and some of its characteristics. Here’s a guide where you’ll learn about them and decide which database management system is right for you and your web application.
5. Develop data structure and algorithmic skills
This is by far one of the most intimidating steps in your journey to become a back end developer. With the right skillset you will be able to implement algorithms that solve various computational problems. You’ll need to learn about binary trees, arrays, graphs, linked lists, and hash tables.
You’ll also need to enhance your mathematical skills as you will work with logic and equations on a regular basis. But don’t let all of those technical terms throw you off. Take a look at this tutorial to get yourself started with the juicy stuff.
6. Learn how to code securely
You can’t just write back end code that interacts with databases without paying attention to security. There is a lot at stake here as malicious attackers can get their hands on confidential data if they find a way in through a programming vulnerability.
Read the OWASP Top 10 guide to learn about common web application security vulnerabilities and how to avoid them when writing your code. You can also check this list for the top 10 secure coding practices you need to implement. There are techniques called
7. Master Git, THE version control system
Version control is very important given each real world project has a development and release cycle. Version control systems such as Git allow developers who work solo or in teams to keep track of their changes and have a little room for experiment.
Version control is an integral part of modern programming and you can get started with Git here. You can also go back to specific versions of your application and work your way from them.
These were the skills you’ll need to learn to become a back end web developer. Your learning journey doesn’t just end there as you need to adopt a lifelong learning lifestyle. You need to embrace an ongoing, voluntary, self-motivated pursuit of knowledge and eagerness to acquire new skills on the go.
New technologies emerge every now and then and what is desired today might be obsolete tomorrow. Keep learning new programming languages and frameworks, start some experimental side projects to sharpen your skills and stay refreshed, and build passion applications to allow yourself to get crafty and creative.