What is a Backend?
Backend refers to the logic and functions that happen behind the scenes but is necessary for the user to be able to send and receive information back and forth between the frontend and the database. Often used for server-side rendering as opposed to client-side rendering which is processed by the frontend, both of the elements work in tandem to provide for a well-functioning and efficient application. Backend developers build the “under the hood” parts of websites or mobile apps that users don’t interact with directly. This means that a back-end developer must be able to write code to receive the information input from the user and also save it somewhere – like in a database (relational or non relational).
Importance of the Backend
Here are some of the major reasons why a well-functioning backend is necessary for a powerfully built application:
If we consider an application to be a living, breathing soul, then the Backend is the heart that pours life into it as it contains the logic which is essential for the app to run.
While the Frontend receives instructions from the user, the Backend is inadvertently what processes their requests and returns the required information back to the user.
The Backend makes the application tick by handling everything from API integrations to data migrations through the provision of a robust database.
It acts as both a storage unit for the functions performed on the application as well as a medium to communicate with the user.
The scalability offered by the Backend makes it possible for developers to program the application to handle enormous amounts of data.
The Backend of an application also serves the function of centralising data access across various devices or applications.
Characteristics of a good Backend technology
A robust and well-designed Backend is critical to manage the app’s internal policies and a lot of factors go into selecting a good technology. Here are some of them:
A good Backend technology requires a defined MVC core architecture where the Model (data layer), View (static pages) and Controller (Logic to render static pages or REST APIs) are clearly separated as this facilitates better acceptance of user input, performance of business logic and efficient data rendering.
Definite middleware support in the provision of a layer between the OS and the application also helps in the pre-processing of requests like authentication and loggers as well as post-processing errors provides for a well-structured Backend.
For a truly dynamic application, many authentication options for various authentication strategies like username/password, jwt, Oauth2 etc. could be provided.
An API for a good templating engine, a processor which goes through data to return text output, could be implemented to render static web pages for all applications (except for SPAs) to keep the presentation persistent throughout the app.
It is critical for a good Backend to have first-class support for Object Relation Mapping APIs as this is highly assistive in retrieving and modifying data in the database.
- Lastly, it is important to ensure that the Backend is scalable to make room for future improvements where additional instances to handle interactions can be added.
Choosing the right tech stack for your Backend
Singling out the right technology as the base for your Backend goes a long way in ensuring that the app is performing seamlessly. Here are some considerations to make where picking out the desired tech stack for your Backend:
It is integral that the use case is surveyed and the various elements of the project as assessed before proceeding to finalise on a technology. Every project is case-specific and it helps to pick a library that is specific to the domain that your app pertains to.
The primary function of the backend is to handle interaction and process requests from the user because of which it is imperative to pick a tech stack after considering the performance required for executing specific types of operations as well as the rate of the throughput.
Building and maintaining an application is quite the costly venture because of which it is important to look at the finances that will be incurred in both developing as well as operating the Backend in the long run.
Before singling out on a technology as if the tech stack is supported by common deployment platforms. Select a technology which DevOps can use to both easily deploy the backend to a familiar stack AWS / Google Cloud Platform / Heroku as well as seamlessly integrate with already existing services which have been previously deployed.
Opt for a technology that is highly favoured in the development community and comes with extensive documentation as this can be a deciding factor of the extent of support you can get. High community support is also conclusive to the fact that the tech stack is popularly used which means that the ecosystem is constantly evolving to meet changing requirements.
Popular tech stacks for Backend development
While the market is abuzz with many releases, there are some technologies that have taken the development world by storm. These tried and tested technologies, both old and new, are favoured by developers worldwide for their many advantages and the various benefits that they bring to Backend development. Here are some popular programming languages and frameworks that are used for Backend development:
PHP, a fast and flexible scripting language, is another popular contender making its way up developer’s lists for Backend development. As we have already seen, the MVC architectural pattern is quite instrumental in building a robust backend; Laravel from PHP is built along this favoured framework is an excellent choice as it is quick and simple to use as well as highly flexible to provide for a scalable app. Inertia is another offering from PHP that assists in Backend development through its chief functionality wherein it brings together the backend and frontend because of which APIs need not be written.
Go, a reliable open source software from Google is making rounds in the dev world as it is not just highly efficient but the simple, compiled language results in applications that perform very well. Built on an extremely efficient HTTP engine based on Go, Fiber comes with a low learning curve which makes it easy to adopt and integrate the framework into the development process. Golang has made another significant contribution to the sphere of app development with Gin, a web framework which features an API with great performance.
Elixir is a dynamic programming language which enables the development of highly scalable applications and its fault tolerance features makes it a great option for reactive programming. Built on Elixir, Phoenix is an excellent web development framework following a comprehensive MVC architecture which results in highly scalable apps.
Python is a famous programming language which uses an object oriented approach resulting in clear code which is also easy to read. It was used to develop Django, a web framework with a powerful form library and Flask, a micro framework which is compatible with the latest technologies and allows for technical experimentation. Python has also been used as the base technology for asyncio, a library providing Node.js like async-by-default operations.
Being a multi-paradigm programming language, C# is component oriented and allows for cross platform development. Built on c#, .NET is a popular framework which allows for the creation of various types of applications.
Another highly developed programming language, Rust not only comes with extensive documentation but also functions across platforms making it a favourable choice for app development. Rust has been used as the appropriate coding platform to build Actix, an express-like framework for Rust and Rocket, a framework which guarantees a secure Backend.
Applications are increasingly being used as time passes, and it is important to guarantee that the application is functioning as it is supposed to. A robust Backend, even though it runs behind the scenes, is pivotal in ensuring that the app is up-to-mark while also being quite instrumental in supporting the Frontend. I hope this article has helped you to understand the Backend and its place in app development!