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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 differentiate an amazing app from a common one.
Every detail of an app that provides an effortless experience is incomplete without the mention of its efficient mobile app backend architecture. In that context, read this article as a guide to understand what makes backend development so important, what are the software stacks used for backend architecture, and the tools that help develop a strong backend process.
So, let’s start with what backend server for mobile apps means and how it is different from frontend development.
If you ask a developer how frontend and backend development is different, the answer that you will get is that the frontend uses codes to make an app look pretty and the backend writes codes to make it work.
But there are a number of underlying things that both the app development processes are based on –
Basically, applications that are installed from the Play Store or App Store on your smartphone are frontend applications. Be it Instagram, Facebook, or Calculator, each application on your smartphone is a frontend mobile application. How? Frontend applications permit you to connect directly through buttons, text fields, flips, and so on. Since they work on mobile phones, they are mobile applications, too.
A frontend developer is accountable for translating the app’s design to a code that is required to display it properly on the browser. The job grew more meticulous with the introduction of responsive web design. The developer 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.
Now that you have understood what frontend development is, let’s understand what backend development is.
In layman’s language, you can assume the backend as an extra application for your mobile application. It is a piece of software that runs on machines called servers. Backend development for mobile applications empowers the main working of the application. It incorporates things like servers, databases, middleware, and so on and can be accessed through the internet via an application programming interface (API).
A backend developer is accountable for the mobile app server connecting the content one sees on the site to the CMS and developing 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 the mobile app backend architecture 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 philosophy and tools involved in frontend and backend developments:
Now that you know the difference between frontend and mobile app backend framework, let us dive into mobile app functionalities that require backend.
There are many things you need to ensure prior to incorporating a mobile backend for app development. The most basic function to utilize while creating mobile applications are:
Cloud server – Today everybody can afford to have cloud servers that come in various sizes and are stored in a protected location. The most popular cloud servers are Google App Engine, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon AWS. They are generally utilized by large organizations and are reliable.
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or 3rd party services – It can happen that the functionalities which you need are already offered by some existing services. They offer backend solutions that are ready to be used by frontend apps. You just need to register, subscribe under a monthly fee and, that’s it, you’ve got a ready and working backend in a few clicks/seconds.
[Also Read: A Comprehensive Guide on Getting Your SaaS Business on Mobile App]
MBaaS – If you prefer not to write your own backend servers or put resources into a cloud-based server, then Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS) is your option. These days there are numerous independent MBaaS providers that offer incredible functionality and an analytics framework to monitor your applications.
Custom server – This is the most flexible and powerful option. Everything which cannot be achieved by SaaS or MBaaS can be achieved by a custom backend. Of course, the obvious drawback is the price of setup and implementation. It requires having a dedicated backend programmer or a whole team. The custom backend can be a simple application or a complex distributed system, all depending on your app requirements.
After knowing about mobile app backend development functions, let us now move on to how backend architecture and mobile app server actually work.
Gear up, we are now going to delve into the technicalities of custom backend development so that you and your team are fully accustomed to all the details necessary to make your mobile application a success. In layman’s 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 the backend varies from application to application. The points of differentiation can be counted down to the use of data warehouses, 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.
Instead of taking you down the rabbit hole, let me simplify and break the backend’s technology stack into its four components – database, server, software, and operating system.
Here are the details on the components –
Whether your backend is in the cloud or on-site, a backend server for a mobile app is the life vein of the network. It provides resources (shared) that the networks need to operate and work as a mobile app hosting platform as well. 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 servers provision the operating system out to contain compartmentalized applications.
The database is what makes an application or website dynamic. Any time a user makes a request from the app, the database is supposed to accept the query, fetch the data, and give it to the app user.
Along with getting the information to a user, the database is also responsible to accept new and edit the old data, as and when the user wishes.
Middleware is a software that works on the server which connects an 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.
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 about the best mobile app backend technology. The reason for calling them the best is because they have been used on a massive scale for a number of varying projects of all sizes.
Here goes the list
This open-source software is used for 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.
Another open-source software, Apache is used by over 50.1% of the world’s apps. The mobile app hosting platform has proven its reliability in the web server industry.
The relational database, MySQL is an open-source platform that is easy to set up, scales fast, and is free. Because of reasons like these, we have placed our trust in MySQL for all the database requirements.
The tool saves all the data in binary JSON format, which makes it easier to pass the data between server and client. The tool is also a free open-source NoSQL database system.
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.
The open-source platform used for container cluster management aims at providing a space for scaling, automating deployment, and for the operation of application containers across the cluster of different hosts.
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.
This open-source development environment tool allows 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.
This 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 set up and use.
This famous cloud-based collaboration and messaging app has been revolutionizing enterprise communication for some time now. It is a new layer of the business technology stack where people can work together more effectively, connect all their other software tools and services, and find the information they need to do their best work.
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.
The tool can be loaded into the server to check the app’s performance and speed under different conditions. Earlier, it was only used to test web apps but it is now even used for testing the app performances.
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 a plugin or the need to write code.
The backend plays an important role in all the stages of the app development process. Below are a few key benefits of backend development, so let’s take a look:
We started with how the frontend is different from the backend and continued with the backend app development process. Next, we saw the components that lay the basis of backend development and finally moved on to the tools that make it all possible.
Now, bringing an end to the guide, let’s touch base on APIs – the backend technology stack 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 the mention of APIs. It is through API that we connect 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.
At Appinventiv, we have helped several clients to build a robust backend for their mobile application. Our team of professionals will help you choose the best backend app solution for your next mobile app development project.
For instance, for our client Adidas, our app developers in Dubai worked on creating an end-to-end application for their Middle Eastern users with a robust backend architecture. We also used industry-loved technologies and frameworks across native Android and iOS to build an engaging shopping experience for their customers.
The app has been downloaded 2 million times to date. Also, the company has acquired 500k new users.
For another client Asian Bank, we developed a mobile application with the best backend technology and tools. The app helps users with crypto assets to store, transact, and convert cryptocurrencies in fiat currency. It offers functionalities such as wire transactions with crypto, buying and selling of cryptocurrencies, wallet recharge, and other payments using Bitcoin and Ethereum. The app has been downloaded 250k times to date. Also, more than 50k cryptocurrency transactions have been made.
With this, we bring the guide to an end. Hope it imparted value to you. For any query, you can contact our experts as we serve across the globe with our mobile application development services in the US, Europe, and Asia to help our customers and clients achieve their goals. As a top-notch mobile application development company, we will guide you through the entire process and make the app development journey easier for you.