023 - What's a backend framework?

11 Jul, 2017

Finally starting to understand backend programming and how it all comes together with the front end! Since it’s still pretty new to me, here’s an explanation in the simplest terms possible.

If you missed episode 20 you can go back and listen to my first introduction to the backend..it was a major FAIL!

So why is the backend necessary? It basically comes down to what your browser (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, etc.) can and can’t do. It can process HTML to put content on the page. It can process CSS to style the content and make it look interesting. And it can process JavaScript to make things a little bit more dynamic.

What it can’t do is process information from the user in a permanent way (like if they fill out a form for example), or pull existing information from a database (like if you want their name, photos, or personalized content to show). That’s where the server comes in. The server can process all of this information (and more) and then translate it into the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript that your browser can understand.

Backend frameworks give you the ability to host a server on your local computer. The most popular frameworks (for the time being) are Node.js for JavaScript, Rails for Ruby, Django and Flash for Python, and Laravel for PHP. Of course there are many more frameworks for each of these languages, as well as other frameworks for other programming languages.

With these frameworks installed, you can start writing instructions to the server about what to do when people visit your site. For example, if they fill out a form, where to send the information! Or if they want to look through some pictures, which pictures should be displayed!

With JavaScript backend programming, Express is a popular framework that accomplishes these tasks in conjunction with Node and npm packages. Much of the code to build a dynamic website has already been written, it’s just a matter of finding what will work best for your project and getting everything to work together.

Now that I’ve gained a proper understanding of the backend, there are many related topics to come in future episodes!

If there’s anything you’re particularly interested in learning about, you can leave a comment below or tweet me @startovercoder.