Difference between Backend Developers and Backend Engineers

photo by Creative Art

Is there truly a difference between Back-end Developers vs. Back-end Engineers? 

In this article, we will be looking at the difference between Back-end Engineers and Back-end Developers, their main roles, responsibilities, and skill assets. Oftentimes it seems like the two share the same roles and responsibilities since they are usually part of the same team; however, Back-end Engineers are different from Back-end Developers despite the similar tasks they perform.

What is Back-end Development?

In order to understand the differences between Back-end Developers and Back-end Engineers, it is vital that we understand exactly what Backend Development is. Websites and apps are your main users of Backend Development.

Whenever you navigate a site such as a blog or store your personal information for the website to use, that data gets stored in what we call the back-end. The back-end is the behind-the-scenes part of a website or app that processes or stores any actions we take on a site. The primary focus of back-end development is databases, website architecture, back-end logic, APIs, and scripting.

Unlike front-end or client-side programming, back-end development cannot be seen by someone browsing a website but rather is the powerhouse of a site, powering the functions of a website.

What is a back-end Developer?

Back-end Developers are responsible for working with the server-side logic found on websites and apps. A core part of their focus is making sure the website or app database is maintained, running at high performance, and that any requests from the front-end are responsive on the website.

They are very familiar with how the architecture created by the back-end engineers for the site was built and use this knowledge to develop features or tasks for the software.

Back-end Developers generally have a list of skills that they would need to be able to program back-end software.

This includes but is not limited to:

  • Understanding web scriptwriting software such as; JavaScript, HTML5, etc.
  • Integrating data sources and databases into one system.
  • Know how to authenticate users between multiple servers or systems.
  • Be able to code and maintain that code in a clean manner.
  • Know-how cross-platform functions and their compatibility in applications.

Back-end Developers also have a list of responsibilities when it comes to maintaining a website or application.

This includes but is not limited to:

  • Debugging applications and troubleshooting if there are any problems.
  • Optimize performance for UIs and conduct UI tests.
  • Participate in and supervise an application’s lifecycle.
  • Develop web apps with clean codes.
  • Train and offer support to team members.

What is a Back-end Engineer?

A back-end engineer is a person who handles the building, designing, and maintaining any server-based needs of the web app. To put it simply, they are in charge of building the foundation that the back-end developer works off of. Because of this, it is their main responsibility to build the structure that a software application runs off of.

Back-end engineers are also in charge of setting foundations for the software team to have what they need to achieve their main goals. This means when they are working within a software development team, their main function is to write server scripts, business logic, and APIs that can be used at a later stage by developers and their team.

On a day-to-day basis, back-end engineers would optimize servers, make sure the structure is stable and secure, and create data storage solutions and reusable code libraries.

Their list of skills includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • High understanding and execution of PHP, Python, Java, etc.
  • A wide knowledge base of Java, HTML5, and CSS3.
  • Experience working on server-side logic.
  • Be able to understand accessibility and server compliance.

Back-end Engineers are also responsible for:

  • Inspecting server code regularly and optimizing server speed.
  • Create and implement data storage solutions.
  • Oversee and improve the quality of a team’s code by giving writing unit tests.
  • Setup back-end usability for all front-side applications.

If you need someone who gives a guided plan that can make your business app successful, you will likely be looking at hiring a back-end engineer. But if you’re looking for someone who can be a part of your team on a more permanent basis and need them to maintain an already developed app/website, then a back-end developer is more the role you’re looking for.