A Quick guide on Mobile App Backend Development for Robust Apps

By Shrikant Srivastava| Thursday, November 23, 2017 15:31 PM |6 min read
feat 1

With the advent and popularization of mobile apps, the focus has now started shifting on not just developing an amazing app but also on understanding the underlying factors that differentiates an amazing app from a common one.

Every mention of an app that gives an effortless experience is incomplete without the mention of its efficient backend process. In that context, read this article as a guide to what makes Backend development so important, what are the software stacks that make its architecture, and the tools that helps develop a strong backend process.

front-end and back end development

For those who are here just for the tools, we will come to the tools part, but only after a few scrolls.

Let’s start with what Backend is and how is it different from Frontend development –

If you ask a developer how frontend and backend development is different, the reply that you will get is frontend uses codes to make an app look pretty and the backend writes codes to make it work.

I would have given the same reply

But there are a number of underlying things that both the development processes are based on –

A Front-end developer is accountable for translating app’s designs to a code which is required to display it properly on the browser.

The job grew more meticulous with the introduction of responsive web design.

The person not only needs to ensure that the look is supporting all the current browsers’ and mobile platforms, but should also note how the design is looking in other computer resolutions and browser widths.

While this was about the frontend developer, this is what the backend developers does –

A back-end developer is accountable for connecting the content one sees on the site to the CMS and develop the logic needed to make everything work as supposed to.

On the design front, they are responsible for converting the designs and the front-end development process in the CMS setup, giving the clients an intuitive method to handle their app content.

If they make it very simple, chances are that the clients will not have control. And if they make it complex, the possibility that clients’ get lost in the design becomes high.

Here is a visual to show the difference between a Frontend and Backend Developer.

back end deve

Now that you know the difference in Frontend and Backend development, let us now move on to how Backend architecture actually works.

Gear up, we are now going to delve into the technicalities of Backend development and prepare you for your next backend developer job and for talking to your development team before you start working on that next big app project of yours.

In layman terms, Backend development is preparing your mobile application to work as it was intended to.

Now to make it possible, there are some concepts which form the server or Backend’s side ‘Software Stack’.

Before I get into that, I will take another minute of yours to tell you that the look of backend varies from application to application. The points of differentiation can be counted down to use of data warehouse, cloud based servers, containerization, BaaS providers or usage of APIs to replace complex processing.

With that out in the open, let me take you back to the mechanics of the Backend.

Breaking down Backend’s Software Stack

Instead of taking you down the rabbit hole, let me simplify and break the backend’s software stack in its four components – database, server, software, and operating system.

Here are the details on the components –

  • Servers
    Whether your backend is in cloud or on-site, server is the life vein of the network. These provide resources (shared) that the networks need to operate. These shared resources might include – encryption and security, file storage, email, database, and web services.

Now, these servers use virtualization to get the provision to house various apps. Another term used in relation to servers is Containerization, which is the way server provision the operating system out to contain compartmentalized applications.

  • Database
    Database is what makes an application or website dynamic. Any time a user make a request from the app, database is supposed to accept the query, fetch the data, and give it to the app user.
    relation database

Along with getting the information to a user, database is also responsible to accept new and edit the old data, as and when the user wishes.

  • Middleware
    Middleware is a software that works on the server which connects application’s frontend to its backend. It enables connectivity between the client and server. It can be organized in various layers – both business and presentation layers.
    middleIt lets the on premise apps and cloud apps interact and offer services such as error handling, and data integration. An efficient middleware can enhance business process management, user engagement, authentication, content, content management, etc.To start with, these three are the main components that lay the basis of Backend Development.Now for those still with us, let me now tell you of the most used tools of Backend development, I say most used because we have been basing all our applications and web backend development processes on these.processWeb Server Tools
  • NGINX
    We use this open source software to do web serving, caching, reverse proxying, media streaming, and load balancing, among other things. It also functions as the proxy server to email (POP3, IMAP, and SMTP) and as a load balancer and reverse proxy for TCP, UDP, and HTTP servers.
  • Apache
    Another open source software, Apache is used by over 50.1% of world’s apps. The tool has proven its reliability in the web server industry.

Databases Tool

  • MySQL
    The relational database, MySQL is an open source platform which is easy to setup, scales fast, and is free. Because of reasons like these, we have placed our trust in MySQL for all the database requirements.
  • MongoDB
    The tool saves all the data in binary JSON format that makes it easier to pass the data between server and client. The tool is also a free open source NoSQL database system.

Git Clients

  • SourceTree
    The tool simplifies how the developers interact with the Mercurial and Git repositories. It makes managing repositories more intuitive, giving people time to focus on coding.
  • GitHub Client
    The tool is used to write cross platform desktop apps that uses HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. It gives the developers a unified cross platform experience which is 100% open source.

Microservice Platform Tools

  • Kubernetes
    The open source platform used for container cluster management aims at providing a space for scaling, automating deployment, and for operation of application containers across the cluster of different hosts.
  • Docker
    Docker puts microservices in the picture by offering developers easy to use and fast packaging, deployment mechanism, and distribution to build compartmentalized apps. It also provides an ecosystem of tools like registry service, native clustering, and cloud service.

Local Development Environment

  • WampServer
    The open source development environment tool allows use mobile app development companies, to make web applications using PHP, Apache, and the MySQL database. It comes in a package with SQLite and PhpMyAdmin to help in managing databases.
  • XAMPP
    The open source web server solution stack comes with Apache distribution which consists of PHP, Perl, and MariaDB integrated together in one downloadable file. The XAMPP package has been designed in such a way that is extremely easy to setup and use.

Collaboration Service Tools

  • Slack
    The famous cloud based collaboration and messaging app has been revolutionizing the enterprise communication since some time now. Popular because of its fun interface and rapidly expanding community of users, Slack continues to make developers’ lives pleasant and productive.
  • Jira
    The web based project management tool uses Scrum and Kanban to manage projects. The tool was made famous by Toyota back in the 1980s for supply chain management.

App Performance Test Tool

  • Apache JMeter
    The tool can be loaded in the server to check the app performance and its speed under different conditions. Earlier, it was only used to test web apps but it is now even used for testing the app performances.
  • AppLoader
    Another tool that we swear by is used to test the application by creating the exact same user experience from all the access points. The tool lets you test the complete business flow without having to add plugin or the need to write a code.

It’s time for a quick recap:

We started with how Frontend is different from Backend and continued to the Backend development process. Next, we saw the components that lay the basis of Backend development and finally moved on the tools that makes it all possible.

Now, bringing an end to the guide, let’s touch base on APIs – the technology without which it is impossible to do Backend development.

APIs – The crucial part of Backend Programming

It is impossible to talk about Backend development, without a mention of APIs. It is through API that it connects applications, software, database, and services seamlessly. API has an indispensable role in the building of server side software architectures, allowing the software to interact and for the data to be transferred.

With this, we bring the guide to an end. Hope it imparted value to you.

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About The Author

Srikant Srivastav, in his role as VP Technology at Appinventiv, has been simplifying the technical complexities that comes in a package when developing never seen before mobile apps. A problem solver by the day and analytical reader by night, he prouds himself by being on top of everything new and to come. You can connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn, to have a one-one-one on the technical aspect of elements that makes your device better.

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