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What is Back End Engineering?

Back End engineers create the server-side of web applications. In other words, Back End engineering is primarily concerned with building the underlying foundation of a software application.


  • Understand how the internet works
  • Identify the key differences between Front End and Back End engineering
  • Categorize various technologies used in Back End engineering

How Does the Web Even Work?

The web is a service built on the internet that allows computers to easily share data. This is usually referred to as client-server communication. Below, you can see a model of this communication process. We have some devices connected to the web that request information, which are called clients. Then, we have a device that serves the data, referred to as a server. The server is constantly listening for requests and when it receives one, it always responds with a message. This is often called the response-request cycle.

When you go to any webpage, for example, you are sending a request to the server by typing in a specific web address in the address bar. Now, if the web address is recognized, you usually don’t even see the response message, but it’s there. What happens if you go to a web page that doesn’t exist like You can see the response code on that web page! But again, if the request is successful, the page loads as you would expect.

"Simple client server model, client/computer is on left side , with an arrow labeled 'request' pointing to a server on the right right. The server has an arrow labeled 'response' pointing back to the client. The set of arrows is labeled with 'HTTP(S)'."

What is Back End Engineering?

In a broad sense, Back End Engineering is all about managing and manipulating ​data​ (information). Let’s go back to our example. Let’s try to find a store near us. This time, the user has an opportunity to receive unique data that has to come from somewhere. That somewhere is what Back End Engineering is concerned with. Back End Engineering is what makes a unique user experience possible. All of the data a user receives back from the server is unique to their specific location.

When we talk about Back End engineering, we’re often thinking of the programming tasks involved in making these things possible:

  • Manipulating, analyzing, and/or calculating data
  • Storing data and accessing it later
  • Verifying that data is accurate
  • Making sure data can be retrieved quickly and easily

Back End & Front End

The Front End is the part of the application that users see, touch, and interact with. This is the code that produces the experience in front of the user. All of the stylistic components of a web page (layout, colors, sizes), in addition to logic around user interactions, are part of Front End engineering. The Back End typically handles all the stuff happening behind the scenes.

What Technologies are used on the Back End?

There are numerous technologies that can be used for Back End programming. Here are a few of them:

  • Languages and frameworks: Ruby/Rails, Python/Django, Elixir/Phoenix, Java/Spring, and more.
  • Databases: PostgreSQL, MySQL, Oracle Database, MongoDB, etc.

At Turing, our full-time students learn Ruby and Ruby on Rails. We believe the fundamental concepts are more important than the language itself; students can easily pick up a new language once they have those fundamentals!

Today, we won’t be talking about anything except for a small part of Ruby. However, we hope that these terms give you some context, so that next time you hear one of these words, you can say “Aha! That’s a database.”

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