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Being a front-end developer can be fun if you enjoy working on the actual user experience and crafting attractive interfaces, but it can get boring after a while if you also enjoy solving logical puzzles and building complex systems. If you want to expand your knowledge into the backend – or move towards that type of development completely – there are a few things you should keep in mind, and some skills that you may want to pick up along the way.

Getting started is easy – building up your skills to the point where you can actually trust the solutions you build is the hard part. Thankfully, there are plenty of educational resources on that topic nowadays, and all it takes is having the determination to get there.

PHP and Other Server-Side Scripting Languages

The most important thing you’ll need to master is a server-side scripting language – the most popular at the moment is PHP. While the language is in a somewhat controversial state in the developer community, there’s no denying its popularity and its great utility for building dynamic, interactive sites that work fast and don’t throw any unexpected errors.

The issues with PHP mostly come down to legacy problems with its development, but the language has come a long way since those times, and the team behind it have been working hard to bring it to a much more intuitive, user-friendly state. As long as you follow appropriate use practices in your work with it, it should serve you just fine.

Databases

Next up, you’ll also want to learn how to work with MySQL or another popular database system. This will be practically inevitable if you continue on your path to learning PHP or another similar language, as you’ll need to understand the intricacies of databases at some point in order to progress further. It takes a lot of effort to understand database queries on a level where you can actually write them efficiently and cleanly though, so make sure that you pay attention to the tutorials you’re following.

Do lots of exercises, and try out different types of queries to find out how the language truly works and what it expects from you as input. There are many people out there who’re barely scratching the surface of database languages, but have the confidence that they’re actually extremely knowledgeable in the field, just because they can do a simple join or something along those lines. Don’t be that guy or girl – don’t underestimate the importance of learning about databases in depth.

General Programming Knowledge

There are also some things related to programming in general that you might be missing, especially if this is your first time doing something like this. This is a common case with developers coming from an HTML/CSS background, with maybe a little JavaScript here and there. You have a lot of catching up to do just to cover the basics, and it’s not a bad idea to pick up a general programming book if you want to learn faster.

Things like knowing how to organize your code in a structured, logical manner, how to refactor it properly later on, and how to work around CPU and memory issues, are going to be very important in building your skills as a backend developer. This is not only valid for resource-intensive or performance-critical applications, and it’s something that will permeate in all work you do. Make sure that you get a good grip on building code that’s scalable and works fine from the get go, otherwise you’re going to face significant issues down the road.

Hosting

You may not have to deal with hosting issues directly, but it’s still a good idea to familiarize yourself with the current state of the hosting market in general, and find out what types of services are available for you to use. Later on, once you start digging really deeply into your development work, you’ll appreciate knowing what kinds of resources you have at your disposal, and how to utilize them properly.

For example, having some experience working with a Content Delivery Network (CDN) can be very beneficial for projects that impose severe traffic requirements. Knowing how to divide the load of a site can also be important if you want to run your creations in a way that doesn’t drag down the servers beneath them. It takes some experience to understand all options available to you and to know when it’s appropriate to refer to each one specifically, so spend as much time as you can on this.

Security

A big point that many developers ignore until they actually run into a problem with it, security is not something you want to underestimate the importance of. It’s not an easy field, that’s true, and it can actually take a lot of time and experience to understand the various intricate details of creating sites in a secure manner. But it’s something you absolutely can’t afford to skip nowadays, especially if you’ll be working with sensitive customer data. Just look around and you’ll find plenty of examples of incidents that have been caused by inexperienced developers acting with too much confidence.

Backend development has its intricacies that have to be observed properly, and it’s more about the technical side of things rather than coming up with an attractive-looking design that lets the user navigate the site efficiently. Your primary concerns will be making sure that the site runs smoothly enough and doesn’t overload the servers, and that it’s secure enough for users to safely submit their information to.

Other than that, it mostly comes down to figuring out what your programming style is, and adapting your projects to that style as best as you can in the future. Everyone has their own way of doing things in the world of software development, but until you’ve experimented enough with the different options available to you, you can’t really know what your own style is, and how to structure your projects when you find yourself starting a new one in the future.