Back-end developer is the most popular term for a web developer who focuses on server-side scripting, databases, and the architecture of a website’s files and pages.
People who make good back-end web developers usually have one or more these traits:
- Detail oriented
- Strong math skills
- Good at working alone or in very small groups
- Good at long term planning
- The ability to visualize concepts
Here are some benefits which being a back-end web developer has over being a front-end developer:
- Better pay than front-end developers.
- Other people at work are less likely to understand what you do. That gives you more freedom to do your job as you see fit.
- You can move your career into operating system based software development in the future. It is a very similar field which may offer you different challenges.
If you decide to focus on back-end web development you need to include these steps on your plan to becoming a web developer.
Step 1: Choose One Server-side Language and Learn it Well
To start, we suggest you choose between PHP and Ruby on Rails for these reasons:
- Both languages are not usually taught at universities, so you have less competition.
- Both languages are free to install and use on your server. That is not true with every server-side language.
- PHP is a simpler language to learn than Ruby on Rails, and there are more PHP positions available than there are for Ruby on Rails.
- Ruby on Rails is more complex than PHP, but positions for Ruby on Rails pay better. It is also a newer language, so you will have less competition than you would for PHP jobs.
A great way to learn a programming language is to get a good introductory book on the language and follow along with the first few chapters.
The book will walk you through setting up your system and building a small and a medium sized site using the language you choose.
Here are some good PHP books:
- Learn PHP Programming Quick & Easy
- Learn PHP: The Beginner Guide
- PHP for the Web: Visual QuickStart Guide
And some good Ruby on Rails introductory books:
- Ruby on Rails Tutorial: Learn Web Development with Rails
- Learn Ruby On Rails For Web Development
- Ruby on Rails Beginner’s Crash Course
Another great learning tool for getting started learning a programing language is a video or video course.
Here are some good introductory videos on PHP:
And some Ruby on Rails introductory videos:
Step 2: Learn About Website Architecture
Being able to create a website with a good structure is as important as being able to write code.
You will need to learn from a few resources to get a good understanding of the principles and best practices of website architecture. We’ve listed out a mix of resources below.
- Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Designing Large-Scale Websites
- Web Architectures: What Entrepreneurs and Information Architects Need to Know
- Building Scalable Websites: Building, Scaling, and Optimizing the Next Generation of Web Applications
Videos & Video Courses:
- Modern Web Architecture
- Select the Right Architecture for Your Web Application
- Web application architecture
Step 3: Learn About Databases
Databases are usually under the control of back-end developers.
You will need to know what the popular database formats are and have some experience working with at least 2 of them before you should start seeking out a job. MySQL is probably the most popular database management software in use. We suggest you learn and work with MySQL along with at least one other database type.
You will need to seek out a few sources to really understand how databases work and what systems are popular. We’ve pick some resources below to get you started.
- Beginning Database Design: From Novice to Professional
- Databases DeMYSTiFieD
- Understanding Database Administration
Videos & Video Courses: