Source of Inspiration

What is a Back End Developer? Decoding technical jobs

By September 14, 2017 No Comments

Back End Developer and Big Data SpecialistAs a mobile software company, on a daily basis we write code and solve technical issues. But our jobs might be hard to understand (Front End, Back End Developer, Big Data Specialist, Tester, UX/UI experts and others). That’s why we launched a regular column to ‘decode’ technical jobs to inspire and explain what they really mean.

A few weeks ago we chatted to our Creative Technologist and today, it’s time for a Back End Developer. We asked our talented Thomas Buick, specialising in back end code and big data to outline what he does in a few simple words.

Back End Developer and Big Data Specialist: Thomas Buick

What does it mean to be a Back End Developer and Big Data Specialist?

It’s all about writing code making web servers work and send right information to right devices such as mobiles, laptops and others. To give you more detail, there are two different types of code:

  1.     Applicative code interacting with the outside world in charge of servers functionality
  2.     Operational code is about server’s health and is linked with their general maintenance

I am also a first point for big data at my company. This broadly mean organising all sorts of information in useful and meaningful ways by extracting, transforming and loading data. All of this done for either for reporting, or implementing new features for instance a google-like search for our customers publications.

What’s your typical daily task?

Every day I manage databases containing 2 types of information:
      client publications (content) data, which is in a nutshell information relating to different pieces of content they provide
      clients data such as end-users information (sessions, visits, purchases they made etc).

I also handle architecture of services to optimise and make accessing content streamlined and easy. What does it mean in plain language? Here at Rakuten Aquafadas we’re all about apps and my work is designed to encourage clients to download content e.g. magazines, documents etc accessible via our apps thanks to a search feature I built.

Last but not least, every day I deal with BugFix meaning I solve issues that occur. For example when there are server issues and apps cannot understand information. Or when code does not behave in the expected way when potentially it’s not well written.

What’s exciting about your job?

I am into finding solutions and doing it in an elegant way.
I am like a writer coming up with rhymes or like a math expert searching for unexpected, hard to find but easy to use explanations. And I like sharing my knowledge with others!

What’s most difficult?

Communication between individuals can be tricky and misunderstandings often create technical issues. What does it mean? To give you example, projects often develop organically, which means various technical features are coded randomly despite of being a highly important skeleton of the project. A good skeleton is logical and solid. You can’t remove an arm and keep a hand. These two are related and logically linked to each other. So imagine the scenario when instead of an arm you have a thigh that is related to this hand. There is no logic there and it’s time consuming to put all the elements in correct places.

Let’s take the analogy of two great novels: Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. The two separately are extraordinary literature pieces. But if you were to mix chapters of these two books it would no longer make any sense.
So fixing all these technical nonsenses makes me happy and proud!

What kind of training and skills do you need to become a Back End Developer?

First of all you need a mathematics background starting from scientific preparation at high school and then engineering degree. Then you need to be curious, have hunger for learning and never stop questioning yourself to  continue improving skills.

And what about the future? How do you imagine the evolution of your job?

I think quite soon it will be totally different. This job changes all the time as back end developers deal with very different functionalities that themselves constantly evolve too.
Personally I expect that the advent of AI will change many of our day-to-day tasks.

What makes a Back End Developer laugh?

‘There is a mum who called her son
;DROP Database’- this means the son will kill all web servers in every places he’ll ever visit.
Let me give you another, hopefully easier to understand joke: ‘when Chuck Norris goes bathing, he is not the one who gets wet, but it is the sea which becomes Chuck Norris.’

If you like our column, why don’t you check our last articles where we decoded Creative Technologist, Front End DeveloperUI / Graphic DesignerProduct Owner and Digital Publishing / Graphic Designer.