What is Back End Web Development

Deborah Cohen

Back end web developers are equipped with the skills to power the internet. Browsing and using your favorite sites were made possible by a back end developer. However, the incredible amount of effort put in by the back end development team typically goes unknown. As a user, you likely don’t notice the behind-the-scenes code, right? Or, maybe you’re just wondering what is back end web development, anyways? If you’re new to the world of web development, you might be wondering how a back end developer, in particular, differs from a plain ole ‘web developer’ or front end developer. That’s why we’re here! Whether you’re trying to decide to pursue a career in back end development, or just need more insight to work with back end developers on your team, we’re here to help. We cover:

  • What is Back end Web Development 
  • How do Web Developers Learn Back end Development?
  • Where Can I Learn Back end Development?
  • Communication & Collaboration Tools for Back end Developers
  • How Much Do Back end Developers Make

If you’re ready to learn more about the vast world of back end web development, keep reading.

What is Back End Web Development

Let’s start with the basics: what is back end development? And how does it differ from front end development? 

Back end and front end development, intuitively, each deal with either the back end or the front end of a website. Front end development deals with the front end of a website. The colors, buttons, user experience, and visuals of a site can all be attributed to a front end developer. 

But, what else is there to a website?

A lot. There is usually a considerable amount of invisible code in the back end of a site, including the framework, server-side web application logic, databases, and much, much more. Typically, most of what a back end developer does will not be seen by a user directly. They could be responsible for tasks such as creating a library, working on data architecture, writing an API, and much more. A back end developer will typically work to understand the needs a company has, and work on a creative solution to fulfill those needs through coding.

Developers focused on back end development code with languages such as JavaScript, Node.js, PHP, Python, Ruby, Java, or Perl. They’ll write with these languages to build the foundation on which websites can process actions. 

For example, you might browse the CloudApp site and submit a form to download a free trial. Typing in your email in the form and clicking the “Sign Up Free” button is made possible by a front end developer. However, the website then processes this request behind-the-scenes and makes your free download of CloudApp possible. You might not see this process or transaction, but it’s made possible by the team of back end developers. 

How Do Web Developers Learn Back End? 

With an estimated one million unfilled jobs in the tech industry in 2020, pursuing a career in back end development means quickly joining an ever-growing industry and jumping into a career with a reasonable salary, relatively quickly. 

So, maybe you’re thinking of pursuing a career in back end development. Where do you even start? We recommend starting by learning the bare minimum of back end development. This includes three key areas: 

  • Learning a back end programming language
  • Learning about hosting management
  • Learning about version control systems 

First, learning a back end programming language is a good place to start. There are many languages to choose from for back end development. Finding the “best” back end language to learn is a bit subjective. If you have previous experience as a developer, use that to help you choose a language to learn. For instance, if you’ve done front-end development, choosing Node.js may be a natural transition as your experience in JavaScript will be transferable. 


Maybe you don’t have any coding experience yet. That’s okay too! We recommend trying out a few coding languages until you find one that clicks the best with you. If you already have an idea of the types of programs or technologies you’d like to work with, find out what coding languages they’re powered by as a starting point for deciding on your first back end programming language to learn.

Second, learning about hosting management is a must when starting as a back end developer. Thanks to the move to cloud computing, you can choose to learn about either managed hosting servers (think GoDaddy or HostGator) or cloud hosting providers (think Amazon Web Services or DigitalOcean). 

What’s the difference? 

In both cases, the servers will be operated and owned by the respective company. However, if you choose to work with managed hosting providers, you’ll find a more robust set of tools at your disposal for tasks such as monitoring usage, seeing the file system, uploading and downloading files, and much more. If you have less technical skills, this is a great place to start. 

Lastly, learning about version control systems is a must if you’re pursuing a career as a back end developer. Git for VCS might be the most well-known version control system, but there are more options available. If you plan on working with a team of developers, managing projects and team members are more straightforward with the right VCS. Additionally, being able to add fluency with Git or other well-known version control systems to your resume can give you an edge when searching for a new career.

Where Can I Learn Back End Development?

There is an overabundance of schools, universities, and even free resources to help you jump start your career in back end programming. If you are new to the world of development, you may want to explore the free resources available before investing money in a career you may or may not want to pursue. However, if you’re ready to make the leap and get an official education in back end development, there are many schools, some even online, to help you either learn back end development from scratch or just help you brush up on your skills. 

If you’re just getting your toes wet in back end development or waiting for your first semester to start, we recommend diving into all the free resources available. A simple google search of “free places to learn back end development” should get you started. However, we’ve also compiled some of the top free places to learn back end development here. 

W3schools.com 

Perhaps one of the most well-known resources for developers, w3schools.com has tutorials, references, examples, and exercises to help you learn every language you’ll need to be a successful developer. 

Free Code Camp

Free code camp has a mission to help people learn to code for free. You can check out all their guides and tutorials online for free. 

Udacity

Udacity also has a free 3-week course to learn web serving technology. 

Khan Academy

One of the internet’s greatest treasures, this non-profit boasts a myriad of courses to get you started on coding (or almost any other topic imaginable. Also need to learn to do your taxes? They’ve got you covered).

MDN web docs 

MDN Web Docs is an open community filled with developers. Employees from big tech companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Mozilla also regularly update it. You can use it as a free supplement to a course you’re already taking, or go through their free lessons.

CodeAcademy

Code Academy provides a number of courses you can take from the comfort of your home or on a beach in Maui as long as you have an internet connection. You can get started for free, but some of the more advanced courses are only available for a fee. 

Web Fundamentals 

Web Fundamentals is a resource from Google with a myriad of free tutorials and resources. This open-source platform is a bit more advanced, so we recommend getting your foundational understanding down before jumping in.

Hack.Pledge()

Hack.Pledge() is a free resource for developers. More advanced programmers can pledge to give an hour of free tutoring, or novice developers can receive a free hour of tutoring. If you’re learning, it’s a great resource to get some free training from some of the industry’s top developers.

Communication & Collaboration Tools for Back End Developers

There are a few tools every aspiring back end developer should have in their toolbelt to make collaborating and communicating with your team a breeze. We’ve compiled a few you should learn more about to help you launch into your career. However, if you’re curious about more great programming tools, check out our previous blog: ‘Best Productivity Tools for Programmers’ here.

CloudApp 

Effectively Communicating with Developers, whether you’re on the development team or not, is pivotal to the success of any project. One simple, intuitive developer tool, is CloudApp. You can improve your documentation by creating a simple GIF or screen recording with a few clicks. You can also speed up your debugging and communications with your team. But don’t take my word for it! Download a free version of CloudApp today and start saving time. 


Project Management Softwares

Having a solid understanding of at least one project management software is a must if you’re thinking of applying for a job or branching out on your own as a developer. Some of the most popular project management software include Asana, Basecamp, and Jira. Each software has unique nuances and different learning curves. Basecamp is one of the easiest to learn, but you might find the lack of features limiting. Asana has a steeper learning curve but is relatively simple with great functionality once you get the hang of it. Jira is relatively considered the most complex out of the three but has endless capabilities with the third party add ons available. Try them out with a free trial to find the one that works best for you and your team. 

But wait, there’s more! Each of these popular project management software integrates seamlessly with CloudApp. This makes creating tasks, requesting edits, and more clearer with the quick addition of a visual element like a GIF or screen recording. 


GitHub and GitLab

GitHub and GitLab are industry musts for a back end developer. The good news is that both also integrate seamlessly with CloudApp, making communications and functionalities within the platforms that much richer.


How Much Do Back End Developers Make

Back end developers make a decent salary. Although it can vary depending on where and who you’re working for (or if you’re self-employed), years of experience, and other variables. Indeed.com estimates the average base salary for a back-end developer starts at $128,108.

how much do back end developers make?
according to indeed.com, the average base salary for a back end developer is $128,108. Photo source.

However, the Sofwareguild estimates salaries can start at $34,000 annually, with most making around $72,000, and an upper range of $98,000. 

how much do back end developers make?
The Software Guild estimates the median back end developer’s salary to be $72,000. Photo source.


Most industry experts agree that as long as you keep your skills up-to-date and continually work on becoming an expert in the language or technology you’re working on, there will continue to be a demand for back-end-developers.


Conclusion

Back end developers are the unseen forces behind almost every single website you visit. Every function, form submission, and page load is made possible by their behind-the-scenes coding. They’re responsible for the creative, yet analytical solutions to a business’s website requirements. 


We hope this article cleared up questions like ‘what is back end web development?’. We explained what back end web development is and provided a few key principles to help you get started on learning back end development. We also provided a list of where you can learn back end development as well as some great communication and collaboration tools and how much you can expect to make as a back end developer. Don’t forget to download a free version of CloudApp before embarking on your journey to becoming a back end developer!

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