The Backend Beast: Taming it One Step at a Time

Sagar | The Tech Arch 🚀
5 min readMay 30, 2023

Introduction

In the realm of software creation, the backend often seems like a daunting entity. It’s the hidden powerhouse of every app, taking care of all the behind-the-scenes action. In this guide, we’ll simplify the intricacies of backend development, dividing it into easy-to-follow steps. This article will provide you with the guiding steps and tools to start on your journey. So, let’s start this journey to master the ‘Backend Beast’, one step at a time.

Decoding the basics of backend system

2 major components of Backend System.

Backend development, the unsung hero of the digital world, is the invisible force that fuels the functionalities of a web application or a website.

It’s the sturdy backbone that seamlessly connects and transmits data from the server to the user interface.

The key pillars of backend development encompass servers, databases, and APIs. Here’s a succinct breakdown of each:

  1. Server: This is the powerhouse that hosts your web application or website. It processes client-side requests, executes the necessary tasks, and delivers the data or results back to the client. Some of the most widely used programming languages for server-side development include Python, Java, and Node.js.
  2. Databases: These are organized collections of data. They store, manage, and retrieve information as per the server’s request. There are two primary types of databases: SQL (like MySQL and PostgreSQL) and NoSQL (like MongoDB and Cassandra). SQL databases are structured and operate on a predefined schema, while NoSQL databases offer more flexibility and can handle unstructured data.
  3. APIs: These are the communication bridges between different software components. They facilitate interaction and data exchange between various software systems. The world is now moving towards an API-first approach, where APIs are available for every use cases.

So, to learn backend engineering we are only going to focus on everything related to these 3 major components. Networks we’ll cover in details in the future posts.

Step 1: Mastering the basics

Languages

In the world of backend development, gaining proficiency in a programming language is a crucial first step. Languages such as Python, Java, and Node.js are often the go-to choices due to their powerful features and extensive support communities. Here are some of the most widely used backend languages:

  • Python: Renowned for its simplicity and readability, Python is a top pick for both beginners and seasoned developers.
  • Java: A versatile and universally adopted language, Java stands out for its reliability and cross-platform compatibility.
  • Node.js: Not a language, but a runtime that enables JavaScript to run on the server side. It’s celebrated for its speed and efficiency.

Databases

Grasping the concept of databases is pivotal in backend development, as they are the backbone for storing and managing data. There are two primary types of databases, SQL and NoSQL, each with its unique advantages:

SQL

SQL databases, like PostgreSQL, utilise structured query language for defining and manipulating data. They excel in handling complex queries and are widely adopted due to their reliability and efficiency.

NoSQL

NoSQL databases, such as MongoDB, offer flexibility and scalability. They can manage large volumes of data and are ideal for real-time applications.

Step 2: Steering Through APIs

APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces, are sets of guidelines and protocols that enable different software applications to interact with each other. In the sphere of backend development, APIs are instrumental in enabling the smooth transfer of data between the server and the client, or amongst different servers.

Usage:

Effective utilisation of APIs involves understanding how to construct requests, manage responses, and handle errors. It’s equally vital to enforce security measures, such as employing tokens for authentication and encrypting confidential data, to safeguard the data being transmitted via the API.

Step 3: Deciphering Servers

Server Types:

There are various types of servers, each tailored to different requirements and uses. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Shared Servers: These are the most budget-friendly option, where multiple websites share the same server resources. They’re ideal for small-scale websites and blogs.
  • Dedicated Servers: These provide an entire server for your website, offering more control and resources. They’re ideal for larger websites with high traffic volumes.
  • VPS (Virtual Private Server): This is a middle-of-the-road option where you share a server with others, but have a dedicated portion of the server’s resources. It offers more control than shared hosting without the cost of a dedicated server.
  • Cloud Servers: These are virtual servers that operate in a cloud computing environment. They are scalable, meaning you can adjust your server resources as your needs evolve.

Server Management

Overseeing a server involves tracking its performance, ensuring its security, updating and installing necessary software, and troubleshooting any issues that arise. Regular maintenance tasks include backing up data, updating the operating system and applications, and optimising the server for performance.

Gaining a solid understanding of servers and their management is a crucial aspect of backend development.

Step 5: Amplifying Scale and Boosting Performance

Scaling

Constructing a scalable backend system is vital for accommodating growth. As your application’s user base expands, your backend should be capable of managing an increasing volume of requests without sacrificing performance. There are two primary types of scaling: vertical (enhancing the power of your existing server) and horizontal (adding more servers).

Performance Optimisation

Enhancing your backend for optimal performance involves various strategies, such as efficient database querying, caching frequently accessed data, and employing load balancers to distribute traffic evenly. Regular monitoring and performance testing can aid in identifying bottlenecks and areas that require improvement.

By mastering these facets of backend development, you can ensure that your application remains swift and responsive, even as it scales.

Conclusion

In our quest to master backend development, we’ve covered the following key steps:

1. Understanding the Basics: Mastering a backend language and understanding databases.
2. Navigating APIs: Learning about APIs and how to use them effectively.
3. Understanding Servers: Learning about different server types and the importance of server management.
4. Scaling and Performance Optimization: Understanding the importance of building scalable systems and optimizing performance.

Remember, the world of backend development is constantly evolving with new technologies and practices. So, keep learning and subscribe to this medium for more on Fullstack Engineering for Frontend Developers.

In the past 8 years, I have grown from an IT Support Engineer to an Architect in a top consulting firm of the world.

I tweet daily actionable insights on how to grow as a Software Engineer and increase your income in this volatile market. Make sure to follow me on Twitter

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Sagar | The Tech Arch 🚀

Staff Software Engineer at Mckinsey. 10 years in tech. Currently helping software engineers grow in career