Web Development: Revisit the Basics

  • By Rim Dahhou
    • Jan 30, 2024
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Web development

Curious about web development? In this article, we lay out all the basic portions and notions of web development. At the end of this reading, you will hopefully have a good understanding of the basics of web development, that will set you on your way to gain deeper knowledge and expand your skills.

How to Create a Website?

First things first, a website (such as the one used to host this article) is nothing but a file stored on a sever. Servers are powerful computers that host (fancy term for “store”) websites. Servers are connected by the giant network called Internet.

To create a website, two critical portions must be developed:

  • Front-end: or client-side, is the portion of the website we see and interact with as a user. It is made up of HTML, CSS and JavaScript files. The browser loads these files on the client-side to show the website. Although seemingly simple, there is a variety of tools, libraries and frameworks of different depths and complexity levels connected to each of these languages.
  • Back-end: or server-side, is the portion of the website that handles most of the logic and functionality. Contrary to the front-end where the languages are limited to HTML, CSS and JavaScript (the browsers only understand these languages), the server (back-end) can be configured to understand any language. Three main components make up this portion of a website:
  • The server: servers are no longer necessary given the abundance of serverless architectures, which are more decentralized. In more complex and traditional settings, the server works to compile the code and convey the result to the browser.
  • A server-side programming language: such as PHP, Python, Ruby, C#, Java etc. (it is also important to note that Node.js is a runtime environment that can run JavaScript code on the server, making the language a double agent).
  • A database: is the structure where all the data is stored. Databases come in different types: Key-Value Databases such as Redis or Riak; wide-column databases like Apache Cassandra; Document Database such as MongoDB; Graph Database, such as Neo4j and Relational Database, the most popular data model and most used, such as Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL and IBM DB2.
web development

Web Development: APIs

Another popular and crucial portion of web development is understanding APIs: Application Programming Interface. These act as a pathway/route exposing different backend services to the client-side section of the application. APIs are the building blocks of complex programs by defining an independent set of functionalities with a reusable piece of code. An API can be defined as the code that governs access points to a server.

APIs process requests via one of two different protocols:

  • REST: Representational State Transfer, is a set of architectural principles attuned to the needs of lightweight web services and mobile applications. When a request for data is sent to a REST API, it’s usually done through HTTP, the API then received the request and returns messages in HTML, XML, plain text or JSON format.
  • SOAP: simple object access protocol, is a standard protocol that was first designed so that applications with different languages and on different platforms could communicate. When a request for data is sent to a SOAP API, it can be handled by HTTP for browsers, SMTP for email, TCP or other protocols. However, when it is received, return SOAP messages must be returned as XML documents.

While REST is often viewed as a faster alternative in web-based scenarios, SOAP web services offer built-in security and transaction compliance that align with enterprise needs.

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Author

Rim Dahhou
Rim Dahhou

Innovation Funding Consultant

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