Backend development is the server side logic which powers the apps and websites and includes building server infrastructure including database and business logic to process information and provide relevant output. However there are stages to building an effective backend and steps that developers can follow to ensure the success of their projects.
While there are several backend development languages and tech stacks and frameworks one can choose from, we will be taking an overview of the backend JS stack in this blog.
Let’s take a look at the ten stages to master backend development.
- Learning web basics
Knowing networking concepts provides better clarity regarding how the internet works, protocols are used and messages are delivered. Some important concepts include:
- HTTP and communication mechanism
- Types and roles of HTTP requests
- Client-server model
- OSI Model
- DNS working
- HTML tags, CSS Styling and DOM manipulation
- Knowledge of the Operating Systems
Well this one is fairly logical. Only when one has a complete understanding of the hardware and software of a particular system can one progress to learning about servers and the complex web apps running on it. It is critical to understand the operating system to ensure the maximum utilization of memory and maximize the performance. Some of the aspects to know are:
- Type of operating system
- File/Folder Commands
- Path traversal commands
- Networking commands
- System and Process commands
- DOM – Interaction with document
- BOM – Interaction with browser
Additionally one must also know about data types, loops, selection, functions, objects, class, arrays, strings, regular expressions among others.
Node JS is an open source backend development cross platform, JS runtime environment and is extremely popular because of its ability to adapt for both frontend and backend, cost effectiveness, high performance and scalability.
Some tasks to learn include:
- Create, update and delete file folders
- Path module
- OS module
- Async-Await and arrow function
4. Server Framework
Learning about server frameworks is the next important step. Server Frameworks are the gateway between frontend and backend and manage the incoming and outgoing requests, provide endpoints, execute middleware functions etc. Express JS, Nest JS and Koa JS are some of the preferred server frameworks. Some aspects to master are:
- Setting up a basic server
- Req-res call back
- Middleware functions
- HTTP Requests (GET, POST, DELETE, PUT/PATCH)
API Development is the second part of this stage. Learning how to develop simple REST APIs using Express JS and Node JS to perform CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) operations, validating incoming requests, router endpoints etc. Some of the aspects to learn are:
- Creating a folder structure for API
- Managing routers and data
- Using middleware to filter and validate data input
- Proper status code and error message
5. Template Engine
API Calls ensure the communication between front end and back end. In the case of the MERN stack for example, the front end (React) communicates with the backend (Express Js) through API calls. The request for data is sent to the server and the server responds with the requested data. A template engine can be used if one is not proficient in using frontend frameworks.
Template engine helps create static HTML template files and at runtime the template variables can be replaced with actual variables making the website dynamic. It works with the integration of Express JS and gets value from the database and renders them in HTML template files.
Some aspects to learn are:
- Integrating template engine with Node JS
- Creating static template in the template engine
- Output express values in the template engine
- Using if/else loops
- Creating reusable components like navbar, header and footer using partial
Databases form the backbone of backend development, they store the data in structured manner so that they can be accessed, processed and rendered optimally.
Things to learn are:
- SQL Databases like – MYSQL, SQLSERVER, POSTGRESQL
- NoSQL Databases like MongoODB and Cassandra
- Cached database
- Real time databases
If one doesn’t know any SQL language one needs to learn ORM/ODM as a middleware, it comes with a complete model to validate data before it enters the database.
Sequelize is an ORM used for SQL based databases like MySQL, SQL Server etc.
Similarly, MOngoose is for NoSQL based databases like MongoDB etc.
Some tasks to master are:
- Basic SQL queries
- Difference between SQL and NoSQL Databases
- ORM/ODM and their working with databases
A major concern for web applications which are enterprise level is security, vulnerable infrastructure can lead to data leak or application failure. A web app needs to have a systematic approach to validation, authentication and authorization in a web app. Some techniques used to safeguard web applications include, tokens to prevent unwanted web app like JWT, Cookie to store information regarding website visits, sessions to maintain connection with servers, cors for requests between websites, hashing, encrypt/decrypt, SSL certification to secure transactions and using middleware to prevent DDOS attack.
8. Message Brokers
Message brokers are important to address the issues that emerge with large amounts of data processing, CPU intensive operations, API communication between multiple services that can lead to user dissatisfaction owing to their time consuming nature.
Message broker acts as a mediator between services and applications through the use of messages, point to point messaging and publish/subscribe messaging are popular examples.
Testing is essential before the deployment of the web application on a live server and happens in several stages and based on several criteria. Testing can be both automated and manual.
Jest is a famous testing framework that can test both web apps and APIs. Supertest is another framework used for API Testing with the integration of testing libraries.
The final stage involves deploying the web app on a live server but before that the version control system needs to be established to ensure deployment is flexible and scalable. Popular version control platforms include Git and GitHub. You can learn more about Git and GitHub in this blog.
Some popular Paas (Platform as a service) for deployment are Hereku, Vercel or netlify.
There is always something more to learn but these steps can get you started and help you navigate your way around backend development.
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