Last Updated on June 13, 2022

With the rise in demands of any time and anywhere computing technology, smartphones, and mobile devices have become a central element of our lives. The key feature of a smartphone is its apps.

A typical mobile user uses multiple apps for nearly all purposes. Some users are dependent on apps for ordering their food online, while some others use it to connect with their family and friends near or far. Many users use apps to check the news, weather, market movements, traffic, book hotels & flights, or even to find a date.

The easy and quick availability of mobile apps has changed how most enterprises go about doing their businesses. Whether you are a small niche store or a multi-national you need to launch company-branded apps to offer your products &services. The ultimate aim is to make your branded app your gateway into the personal world of your consumers and to connect with them in every possible manner.

How Does It All Work?

A mobile app is a piece of marvel and an example of human ingenuity, innovation, creativity, and problem-solving skills. As users use only the public interface of the app, they may confuse it for the entire application. But that is not the case.

Every Mobile app has two parts – the Frontend and the Backend.

1. Frontend

Frontend

To put it simply, the frontend of a mobile app refers to the look and feel of the app that a user experiences. It involves creating a unique “User experience” or “UX” for the users of the app so that they come back and use it again and again.

It is at the front end of a mobile app where the UI and UX magic are created. This is the layer of the app that end-users download and install from app stores on their phones. 

A frontend developer focuses on how a user interacts with the app, what icons or animation do they see, what actions are permissible, and what is not. They deal with how to present the data that comes from the backend or the server.

Error alerts, notifications, alarms, input validation, presenting data, and sending the inputs to the server to process. Frontend development can be either native (where the native tech stack of the platform is used) or hybrid (where a platform-agnostic stack using HTML5 and JS is used).

2. Backend

Backend

The backend works entirely behind the scenes but plays a critical role. It is the backend that does most of the heavy lifting related to data verification, authentication, processing business logic, data storage, and security. The backend of mobile apps is an application hosted on a server that remotely communicates with the frontend.

The backend server can store, retrieve, and sort important information with accuracy and speed to enable a seamless computing experience for the end-users. Any hiccups in the backend can affect millions of users across the world.

The process of designing, developing, deploying, and maintaining the application code at the server-side of a mobile app is called backend development. It encompasses all the activities happening behind the scenes as users interact and interface with the app.

Which data to produce, how to present it, and when to present it is decided by the code that implements business logic. There can be some apps that may only have a frontend and no backend, but such apps would be of very little use. The real power of any dynamic and useful app comes from a strong backend development.

Does A Backend Developer Focus On The Following:

  • App architecture and design
  • Database design and operations
  • Server-side scripting
  • Security, authentication, and privacy
  • Data backup and restoration
  • Load balancing

What Is Frontend vs. Backend Development?

Frontend vs. Backend

Frontend development is application designing and programming with a focus on the visual elements of a software, website, or mobile app. This is the part of the software solution that an end-user interacts with.

Backend development is focused on the server-side of software, website, or mobile app that a typical end-user may never see or use. The backend provides critical support in the form of providing data, verification, authentication, security, and other services.

The frontend and backend are both critical to the success and functionality of any app. They work together seamlessly to bring to life a dynamic mobile app and let users complete their work.

Differences Between A Frontend & Backend Developer

Points Of DifferenceFrontend DeveloperBackendDeveloper
DefinitionThe term frontend refers to the user interface (UI). It is concerned with the effective implementation of the graphical user interface and visual components of a mobile app.Backend means the server, application, and database that work behind the scenes to deliver relevant information to the users.
Skills NeededFrontend development requires a combination of technologies such as Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), JavaScript (JS), and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).To code applications in the backend, knowledge of programming languages like Ruby on Rails, Python, PHP, Java, C#, and ASP.net is required.
IndependenceExcept for static apps that do not change at all, the frontend development cannot work without the backend.Backend developers work independently of frontend developers. In many cases, some backend applications can function even without a frontend.
ObjectivesA front-end developer has the goal is building an easy-to-use interface to let the users effectively use the product. They ensure that the app is responsive and accessible on all target platforms. The goal of a backend developer is to create a software solution to support the frontend. It supplies many services and supports it with updated data. It must also ensure that the app is secure, and the data in it is processed properly.
Development TeamA typical front-end development team would design a wireframe to determine the structure and design of the app screens based on user requirements. They continually engage with users to seek their inputs, train them, and optimize the design elements for varied smartphones.The backend development must find solutions to complex enterprise problems and implement business logic. They also assist the frontend development team by providing them with a proper API.
Frameworks UsedVue.js, React, AngularJS, and jQuery is the most commonly used frameworks for frontend development.CakePHP, Laravel, Django, Flask, Ruby on Rails, .Net, and CodeIgniter are the most popular backend development.
Additional skillsEffective Knowledge of UI and UX designing with graphics editing skills is a plus.Good aptitude (including problem-solving and logical reasoning), networking, database processing, and communication skills are a must.
Average SalaryThe average salary of a front-end developer may vary from $65,000 to $85,000 per annum.A backend developer usually commands a higher salary package ranging between $75,000 to $110,000.

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Role Of Backend App Development

Backend development of mobile apps is the development that occurs on the server-side. The work here secures, stores, and processes data.

1. Strategy

Strategy

To build an app, software, or website the foremost requirement is a good strategy. Thoroughly research the market and competition, carefully select your target audience, define your goals, and select the right type of platform to launch your app. Then all you need is a great team to develop your app.

2. Design

Design

The UI/UX design process ensures that your app works properly, looks good, and is easy to use. A powerful backend for apps would synchronize your style guides, workflow, architecture, and more.

3. Analysis And Planning

StrategyAnalysis And Planning

Developers can study case studies of different apps and analyze them thoroughly. This allows them to prioritize their app needs. This method will also work as a catalyst in developing the MVP of the app more efficiently.

4. Testing

Testing

It is one of the most important aspects of backend development. Different types of testing like unit testing, user testing, performance testing, security testing, and stress testing are necessary. to work consistently on all platforms and under all conditions.

Mobile Application Functions That Are Provided With Backend Development

The basic functions that are utilized while creating mobile applications are:

1. Cloud Server

Cloud Server

Cloud-based servers are now the backbone of all apps these days. This is due to their affordable prices, reliability, scalability, accessibility, and centralized management. The cloud servers are located in protected locations with enough physical and network security to make them secure and safe. Anyone from a large organization to individuals can use the services of cloud servers.

Some popular cloud servers for hosting mobile apps are – Google App Engine, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon AWS.

2. Software-As-A-Service (SaaS)

Software-As-A-Service

The cloud servers also offer SaaS as a beneficial add-on. SaaS-based systems offer many backend services to app developers, especially for backend development. SaaS provides ready-to-use backend solutions to apps’ frontend and backend. You can use SaaS-based services for a nominal subscription under a monthly fee.

3. Custom Servers

Custom Servers

If you are handling critical data and need to work with regulators, then you can choose to implement your custom server to host the backend of a mobile app. The Custom backend server can be used to achieve functionalities that SaaS or MBaaS cannot provide – as you would be in total control. The one obvious limitation of a custom server is its price. It also requires a dedicated team to manage and secure it for smooth working. This backend can vary from a simple application server to a complex distributed system according to the need of your app.

Mobile Backend As A Service (MBaaS)

Mobile Backend As A Service (MBaaS)

If you do not want to create your backend server or put resources on a cloud-based server, you can choose Mobile-Backend-as-a-Service(MBaaS). Numerous independent MBaaS services are allowing the user to monitor their applications 24×7. They provide incredible functionalities and analytical frameworks for backend development.

Architecture And Server- Working

Architecture And Server

The backend architecture is a process in which the structure and business logic of an app’s backend is designed. A robust backend architecture allows users to navigate the app and use its different features seamlessly. The user need not worry about the complicated functions going on at the backend.

Backend development prepares your mobile application to work as it was intended to. The backend varies from application to application and can be differentiated based on servers, databases, and middleware

Breaking Down Backend Software Stack

The backend software stack consists of 3 major components

1. Servers

Servers

A server is a storage and application processing computer that gather details about user interactions with your app. It can also be used to run specific instances of code depending on the inputs they receive.

2. Database

Database

A database is a repository of relevant data. They contain information that server access to direct app functions. They are also used to securely organize information so that they are easily accessible by the users through the app.

3. Middleware

Middleware

Middleware is a set of software that connects an application’s backend to its frontend and is deployed on a server of its own. It connects the client and server and is organized in various business and presentation layers.

Middleware provides services such as data communication, authentication, web services, error handling, and data integration by allowing on-premise apps and cloud apps to interact. A good middleware can enhance the apps’ processing, management, user engagement, authentication, and content management.

List Of Top Backend Development Tools

1. Web Server Tools

The mobile app’s backend server is used to store, process, and serve data to apps installed on the end users’ phones. The communication between the server and the clients is secure.

Apache HTTP Server

Apache HTTP Server

It is a very popular web server that is designed to serve static and dynamic web pages as well as host web services. They are used by over 67% of all web servers in the world and are fast, reliable, and highly secure.

Apache Tomcat

Apache Tomcat

Java applications are served using this webserver, a variation of the Apache HTTP Server. Tomcat could also be used to serve web pages but in that case, it would not be as effective as the Apache HTTP server. Its application processing power is second to none, though/

NGINX

NGINX

It is usually used as a proxy server for email, NGINX is an open-source server. It is also be used as an HTTP cache, load balancer, reverse proxy, and media player and streamer.

Node.JS

Node.JS

Node.js is a JavaScript-based, lightweight, and efficient web server. It utilizes non-blocking, event-driven input/output and fast becoming popular for web and app development.

Lighttpd

Lighttpd

Lighttpd is another high-speed open-source server that is faster than Apache servers and enables virtual hosts, URL rewriting, automatic file expiration, fast CGI streaming, directory listings, HTTP redirects, and transparent cache output compression, and supports large files.

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2. Databases Tools

The dynamicity of an app is of utmost importance these days and the database tools do exactly that. It is responsible for providing data and info to a customer and also accept and stores the previously shared data.

Oracle RDBMS

Oracle RDBMS

It is an RDBMS that implements object-oriented features such as inheritance, polymorphism, and user-defined types. The Term RDBMS stands for relational database management system

IBM DB2

IBM DB2

The IBM DB2 helps you modernize the management of both unstructured and structured data across multiple clouds and on-premises environments. It is also are relational database.

Altibase

Altibase

By using a single uniform interface, Altibase combines an in-memory database with an on-disk database. By doing this, it enables real-time access to large volumes of data, while simplifying and revolutionizing data processing.

Microsoft SQL Server

Microsoft SQL Server

Another popular RDBMS system from Microsoft. It is used in transaction processing, business intelligence, and analytical applications.

SAP Sybase AS

SAP Sybase AS

It is commonly known as Sybase DB or Sybase SQL Server. Sybase DB was developed for the Unix OS to meet the rising demands of performance, reliability, and efficiency. It is often used for online transaction management on location and in the cloud.

Teradata

Teradata

Teradata is an open RDBMS running on multiple operating systems such as Linux, Windows, and UNIX. This RDBMS can be integrated with various business intelligence (BI) tools and can also be used to support massive volumes of data.

ADABAS

ADABAS

ADABAS stands for “Adaptable Database System.” It was developed to run on IBM mainframes. It is optimized for big data and reliability and is known for its cross-platform portability and developer productivity.

MySQL

MySQL

It is An open-source relational database that scales faster and is free. MySQL is used in many frameworks that are popular among developers to design eCommerce, transaction processing, and data warehousing applications.

FileMaker

filemaker

Powerful software allows users to create their personalized apps and databases. It is used by businesses for tracking invoices, customers, resources, work orders, and inventory.

Microsoft Access

Microsoft Access

Microsoft developed this database management system that combines the relational database engine with a graphical user interface (GUI). It is an information management tool that helps the user store information for analyzing, referencing, and reporting.

Informix

Informix

Informix is a fast and flexible database server developed by IBM. It manages object-relational, dimensional, and traditional relational databases. Its small footprint and self-management function makes it suitable for onboard data management solutions.

SQLite

SQLite

Written in C, SQLite is a database engine used to develop embedded software for devices like televisions, cell phones, and cameras. It can manage low to medium-traffic HTTP requests, change files into smaller size archives with lesser metadata, and can be used to process some data within an application.

PostgreSQL

PostgreSQL

It is also known as Postgres, It is a free and open-source RDBMS that emphasizes extensibility and SQL compliance. Most Mobile and analytical applications use it as a data warehouse.PostgreSQL provides support to different functions of SQL and user-defined types & functions.

Amazon RDS

Amazon RDS

Amazon Relational Database Service, or Amazon RDS, is a collection of managed services that makes it simple to deploy, set up, operate, and scale databases in the cloud. Services and tasks such as backup, recovery, patching, and migration are performed by Amazon RDS.

MongoDB

MongoDB is a source-available cross-platform document-oriented database program.It is used to build highly available and scalable internet applications. With its flexible schema approach, it is popular with development teams using agile methodologies.

3. Git Clients

Git clients allow developers to work with visual version control and project collaboration system. The user does not have to write the code for version control manually.This enables them to perform their tasks faster and more comfortably.

SourceTree

SourceTree

SourceTree is a free GUI Git client. It simplifies developers’ interactions with Git repositories so that they can concentrate on coding. Its GUI makes it easy to visualize and manage your repositories.

GitHub client

GitHub client

GitHub is a code hosting platform for version control and collaboration. It is a 100% open-source tool that is used to write cross-platform desktop apps by utilizing CSS, HTML, and JavaScript.

4. Microservice Platform Tools

Microservices is a collection of tools and technologies that offer various functionalities over the internet. They come with pre-defined functions and algorithms and allow developers to build an application with ease.

Kubernetes

Kubernetes

Often abbreviated as KBs, Kubernetes is an open-source platform used for container cluster management. Automating deployment, providing scaling, and operating application containers across the cluster of different hosts are major goals for Kubernetes.

Docker

Docker

Docker uses OS-level virtualization to deliver software in packages called containers. It brings microservices into the game by providing developers with easy-to-use and fast packaging deployment and distribution mechanisms. Docker is popular among developers to build compartmentalized apps as it also provides tools such as registration services, native clustering, and cloud services.

5. Local Development Environment

An LDE, or local development environment, provides a way to configure services on a workstation to run a website or mobile application.

WampServer

WampServer

WampServer is the solution stack for the Microsoft Windows operating system that consists of Apache Web Server, OpenSSL, MySQL database, and PHP programming language runtime. It is an open-source development environment that is used by mobile app development companies to build web applications and manage databases. 

XAMPP

XAMPP

Developed by the Friends of Apache group, it is a free and open-source cross-platform web server solution stack. It supports development using Perl and PHP language scripts. XAMPP can also be used to serve web pages on the World Wide Web.

Laragon

Laragon

Laragon is a fast, isolated, portable, and powerful development environment for Node.js. it supports multiple languages like Python, PHP, Ruby, Java, and Go.  It is lightweight, fast, easy to use, easy to extend, and is great for building and managing modern apps.

6. Collaboration Service Tools

Collaboration services tools make working together on professional projects easier and faster. It reduces bottlenecks in feedback and workflow approval processes and allows for real-time communication. The three core features of collaboration tools are

  • Communication
  • Project and task management
  • File sharing and management

Slack

Slack

It is a cloud-based collaboration and messaging app that is used by organizations to communicate. It connects people to the information they need. Its major features are:

  • Pinning messages and reference links to channels.
  • Managing and tracking documents.
  • Advanced search modifiers.

Jira

Jira

Jira is a software application used for issue tracking and project management.It uses Scrum and Kanban to manage its web-based product management.

7. App Performance TestingTool

If you wish to determine the effectiveness, speed, scalability, reliability, and interoperability of your apps, you need a good performance testing tool.

Apache JMeter

Apache JMeter

It is a test tool developed by Apache used to measure and analyze the performance of the app and different web services. JMeter is written in Java and can test mobile, web, and FTP applications if the system supports JVM (Java Virtual Machine).

AppLoader

AppLoader

When testing an application, this tool creates the same user experience from all of its access points it also allows the developer to test the complete business flow without having to add a plugin or the need to write any code.

Advantages Of Backend Development

There are many advantages of backend development for mobile apps. here are the major ones:

1. Quick Development Speed

Backend development accelerates the overall app development speed. Automating development tools can save up to 80% on backend coding time increasing productivity.

Automated tasks that use backend services are:

  • Integrating a CDN (Content Delivery System)for files and databases
  • Providing a ready-to-use data model integrated with APIs.
  • Server setup.

2. Cost Efficient

By reducing the development time, you can effectively reduce app production costs. Startups and enterprises will thus have software engineers available for allocating to different high-value tasks. 

3. Focus On Core Business

Using backend development as a service, companies can focus on core business operations. Companies that focus on their core competencies have more time to manage important things, like customer engagement, managing logistics, and motivating staff.

4. Better Output In Less Time

Backend development services produce better results as the process is handled by professionals with years of experience. It is known to cut out the repetitive codes thus producing a better output in less time.

5. Reduced Time To Market

In this fast-moving world getting a product ready in less time is of utmost importance for any startup. In their early stages, startups struggle to produce a market-ready app. So, the faster the product is ready, the better.

Corporates can also benefit from using backend development services as it allows them to launch their products faster, run multiple tests simultaneously, and create satellite systems with fewer resources.

6. An Expanded App Feature Set

Backend development services are designed keeping app users in mind. The developers can provide users with an enhanced set of features by coding in the backend.

7. Outsourcing Of Cloud Infrastructure

Outsourcing cloud infrastructure helps companies to reduce costs,  increase the reliability, security, and overall quality of the work.

8. Continuous Delivery And Integration

Continuous delivery and integration (CD/CI) are important development models for apps. CI happens as you build the software. CDhappens with each successive iteration of the code that is ready to be released.

9. Performance And Security

Backend development services from a reliable partner are known for providing the best performance and security to your apps.

10. Privacy Requirements Like GDPR

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) has stringent data privacy requirements. Backend development service providers are fully compliant with the laws ensuring the users of their privacy.

Disadvantages Of Backend Development

Having listed the advantages of backend development services, let us take a look at some of their disadvantages:

  • No Personalized Automated Operations: No specialized atomic services making it impossible to solve unique problems, at least immediately.
  • Less Control: The users cannot execute activities according to their will. 
  • Security Issues: The user may need to formulate protection strategies depending on their business model.

Technology Stacks For Backend App Development

Some of the most popular tech stacks for backend development for mobile apps are

  • Wins stack
  • XAMPP (X, Apache, MySQL or MariaDB, PHP, Perl) stack
  • Serverless stack

Conclusion

Backend development is the backbone of mobile apps. while the frontend is necessary, the backend gives muscle to the app and makes it useful for the end-users. The role of backend app development for mobile applications cannot be underestimated by anyone.

Author

CTO at Emizentech and a member of the Forbes technology council, Amit Samsukha, is acknowledged by the Indian tech world as an innovator and community builder. He has a well-established vocation with 12+ years of progressive experience in the technology industry. He directs all product initiatives, worldwide sales and marketing, and business enablement. He has spearheaded the journey in the e-commerce landscape for various businesses in India and the U.S.