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Back-end Web Development: Skill Sets, Frameworks and Languages

By Ha Bui   |   October 26, 2021

Back-end web development: The definition

Web design and development projects generally consist of two core sections: the front-end and the back-end web development. In building a website, the front-end development is concerned with designing a user interface in a way that is both appealing and usable for the final users.   

Read more: Front-end Web Development Skill Sets, Frameworks and Languages.

One good fact is that it is completely feasible to create a website with only the front-end. However, such websites will remain static with pre-defined contents (texts, images, etc.) and are limited in functions. To make the website navigation process a truly immersive and responsive experience for the end users requires the support from the back-end of the web, which shall power the user-facing elements and allow users to actually interact with and receive responses from the website. 

So what does back-end web development entails? 

The operations of the back-end of a website typically involves the collaboration of 3 stakeholders, with the final goal being fulfilling the requests made by the Internet users on the front-end. 

  1. The web server: this is where the website is hosted and the web files (HTML pages, CSS, JavaScript, etc.) are stored. Some common web servers are Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS), Nginx, Google Web Server (GWS), etc. Web servers are also the place that receive requests from the front-end, then pass them on to the application server and project the final responses to be displayed on the front-end for the users.  
  2. The application server: this layer takes on the requests received in the web server and  uses the data retrieved from the database server to execute those requests and return the results to the web server.   
  3. The database server: this is where the data is organized, stored and pulled out when needed for answering the demand of the web users. Some databases that you may have come across that you may have come across are MySQL, SQL Server, Oracle, MongoDB, etc. 

Here is a simple example of  how the logic in the back-end processes, illustrating the procedure of a user sending the request to login the website. First, the user would enter their username and password, then click the “Login” button to proceed. The request will then be transferred to the application server through the web server. After that, the application server will  retrieve the data from the database server to generate the appropriate profile page for the user, and deliver that data back to the web server to send to the front-end and display for the respective user. 

Back-end web development is all about building the necessary communication/connections between those 3 pillars to ensure that the web users can have access to the functionalities offered by the website in a fast and stable manner. In addition to that, back-end developers also take on the responsibility of ensuring that the underlying architecture of the website is optimized for data protection and future scalability. 

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Back-end development is all about building the logic for communication between different areas of the web

In the following section, we shall go briefly through the programming languages that shall assist developers in building a solid back-end and realizing the above objectives. 

The skill sets for back-end web programming

Besides programming languages, developers also add frameworks to their stack of technology in software development. Framework is the tool and the predefined web structure that simplify the workload of developers and effectively enhances productivity in the development process. 

To understand exploit frameworks to its maximum capacity, back-end web developers should first master the languages that the frameworks are written in. It is never a wise idea to start coding with a framework without any prior technical knowledge. 

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Understanding the language is crucial for leveraging the capabilities of frameworks to the maximum extent

There are actually a whole lot of different languages for back-end web development, and each language may have several frameworks written for them. Thus, it is best for companies to assess the size of their web development projects and their IT teams to opt for the suitable back-end technology stacks. 

Presented below are some of the most popular languages and frameworks for leveraging the back-end web development for your business website. 

The back-end programming languages

  • Java

Java is a back-end language that has gained the trust and popularity of the community and even among giants like Amazon, eBay and Google. 

Java is definitely the go-to choice for large scale and high volume web development projects that serve the objectives of a variety of large enterprises, especially within the banking and insurance industry. The language also promotes an extensive scalability for the future. 

However, when building minor websites, it is better for companies to opt for another language, as Java is rather complex and bloated for simple projects.. 

  • PHP

PHP is currently the most widely used programming language in back-end web development. This is understandable considering that  it was the first language to be designed specifically for  website building. Plus, the most popular Content Management System at the moment – WordPress – also runs on PHP. 

Due to its widespread popularity, augmenting a strong team for your web development is not a really challenging task. This language is recommended for small to mid-sized website creation projects. 

  • Python

Python is considered to be the back-end language with a low learning curve, making it the perfect choice for beginner developers in building websites. The language is highly optimized for delivering large and complex website building and AI-based projects. 

  • Ruby

Ruby is a programming language that is highly regarded by developers for facilitating a rapid back-end web development. Moreover, this language is an appropriate choice for small web development projects. In fact, many startups have opted for Ruby to quicken the process of building and deploying their websites. 

Airbnb, GitHub and Groupon are some notable examples of websites built with Ruby. 

The back-end frameworks

  • Django: a Python-based framework  

Django is an open-source framework that possesses a low learning curve thanks to the extensive learning documentation and a robust community. The framework is highly valued for its versatility in applications and is especially suitable for complex web design & development projects within a short period of time. 

In addition to that, the high security that Django offers makes it the viable option for developing booking engines, FinTech applications and eCommerce websites. 

  • Ruby on Rails (also known as Rails): a Ruby-based framework

Ruby on Rails is a rather friendly framework for even the beginners in web development. Besides that, Rails is also commonly used by developers since it allows them to be flexible when building the back-end for the websites.

Some popular websites like Spotify, SoundCloud, BaseCamp or GitHub are built with Ruby on Rails. 

  • Laravel: a PHP-based framework

Released in 2011, Laravel is a rather young framework in the web development world. Nevertheless, it has managed to make a name for itself as a simple framework with extensive libraries to facilitate the web building process in a secure manner. 

Laravel is especially useful for backing up the server-side of blogs, news and eCommerce websites. 

  • Spring: a Java-based framework

Spring is a complex framework, especially for those who have yet to familiarize themselves with programming in Java. Nevertheless, it is still a powerful tool when used right, considering that the framework allows developers to create well-performing and scalable websites. 

Wix, TicketMaster and BillGuard are some examples of websites using Spring for back-end web development. 

Besides the aforementioned back-end technology stacks in terms of the languages and frameworks, it is also recommended for back-end developers to be well-versed with the basics of front-end development (HTML, CSS and JavaScript) to understand the work of the front-end developers and create a better logic for the communication between the two sides, effectively creating an intuitive navigation experience for the web users.

Since 2013, fram^ has been building a name for itself as a world-class yet affordable digital powerhouse. Among the many offerings that fram^ delivers to our business partners to facilitate their digitization process, complete web design & development solution executed by the top IT talents in Vietnam is one of the key strengths that set us apart. 

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