What are Backend Programming Languages?

Instructor: Michelle DeSalvo

Michelle has been an academic librarian for over twenty years. She has a Master’s Degree in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In this lesson, you will learn about the inner-workings of back-end programming languages. You will also learn how the languages impact devices ranging from desktop computers to Smartphones.

Defining Backend Programming Languages

Do you use a desktop computer or a laptop? Do you own a cell phone or an iPad? If you answered yes to using any of these devices, then back-end programming is already impacting your life.

What is the difference between front-end and back-end development? In front-end development, the 'look' of an application is the focus. Customer service is another key factor. When you use your favorite online store to purchase an item, have you ever thought about the layout of the site? The menus and navigation tools can make a real difference, too. These are all front-end factors.

Back-end development is all about communication. The back-end programmer makes sure that all the different information pieces talk to each other to give you the best user experience. The pieces include the server, applications, and database.


Grace Hopper
Grace Hopper

One of the most famous pioneers in back-end development was the scientist Grace Hopper. She was instrumental in developing the Common Business-Oriented Language (COBOL) language.

Grace Hopper is also known for creating the concept of a compiler. A compiler translates complex coding language into another simpler language. This helps make the coding easier to understand.

Have you ever heard of the term debugging? In the 1940s Grace Hopper coined the term. A team could not figure out why their computer was not working. To their surprise, a live moth was in an electrical switch. Will you ever think about the term debugging in the same way?


What if you tried to invent your own language? Where would you start? Computer languages are no different. In addition, computer languages are designed with a specific purpose in mind. One of the most important parts is creating the syntax. The syntax is the order of the words, phrases, or even characters in a sentence. However, every single character makes a difference. If one character is off, an entire application can be unusable. If you have ever worked with code, you certainly know this firsthand.

Simple C-language Source Code

When you think of programming, do you think of heated controversies? You might be surprised at the different camps that form over syntax. For example, the newer language called Google's Go has dropped semi-colons at the end of code statements. This has caused quite a stir in the computing community. Other characters that have caused an upheaval include braces and even whitespace.

Future trends

In the past, commercial programming languages have mostly been created by colleges and corporations. The process was tedious and could take years to make a new coding system. With mobile devices, the programming landscape is changing.

Programming Languages
Programming Languages

Different cloud companies have begun creating their own languages. For instance, Apple has designed Swift. Google's Go uses multi-code chips and processors. Another item that sets Google's Go apart is that it doesn't use binary, which is revolutionary. Go is gaining popularity with other companies such as Dropbox, which has adopted it, too.

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