When you are making a website, web application, or mobile app, you need server-side programming to handle the user’s request and send the required data from the database.
There are many ways to avail of the benefits of server-side programming. So in this article, we are going to discuss all the use cases of server-side programming and their importance in the development of any application. Once you have read this article, you will know the ins and outs of server-side programming and why it is essential for a web-based application. So come along, let’s learn something new today.
What is Server-Side Programming?
Let’s start with the definition of server-side programming. Well, for starters, you need to know that all the web browsers communicate with web servers with the help of HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP). For example, when you click on a webpage to log in to your Facebook page, your web browser sends requests to the target servers of Facebook, and the request is written in HTTP scripting language.
The request which is being sent by your browser has a URL that you want to see. This method shows what action is required from your end. There could be more information encoded in the URL parameters depending on how the web browser sends the request.
On the server-side, the server will wait for the message from the client’s side, and once it receives the request, the server will process it and reply to the web browser via an HTTP response message. Now that’s how a webpage gets loaded into your web browser. But the primary use of server-side programming is the implementation of dynamic webpages or placement of dynamic content on webpages. Given below, we have discussed the difference between dynamic and static web pages for your better understanding.
A dynamic page is a webpage that displays different content to different users while keeping the same layout and the design of the webpage. For example, if you are accessing your Facebook homepage from France, the information written on the webpage will be in French. But if you open the same homepage of Facebook in England, the information provided on the main page will be written in English. This helps a web owner to display the relevant information based on the region from where the user is accessing the website.
These types of dynamic pages are written using CGI, ASP, AJAX, or ASP.NET, and they do take a bit more time to load up than a static page. Moreover, even websites that showcase weather updates or stock prices use the dynamic page technique to keep loading the new data on their webpage without reloading. Besides, a dynamic page does contain many services which require server-side resources, like a database that stores the information of users and the products or services they prefer.
There are two ways to create dynamic web pages:
- Client-side scripting: In this type, a webpage changes in response to the action and uses client-side scripting. In this implementation, all the changes that client sees on their system are stored in their computer rather than on a web server.
- Server-side scripting: This type of page design leads to a change in the information present on the page when a person visits it. When a user uploads a webpage, server-side content is displayed on the screen, such as the login page, shopping cart, and even the submission forms.
A static webpage is built using only the HTML code, and it will show the same content irrespective of the country or region from where the user is accessing the webpage. These web pages are pretty easy to code in comparison to dynamic web pages. A static webpage is more like a newspaper that is filled with information and images that are put in place by using HTML tags. The layout is typesetting, and it does not change even if a user refreshes the page many times.
On a static webpage, you are not going to see any kind of customization. Thus, it doesn’t use server-side programming and relies only on static code that is written in pure HTML scripting.
History of Web Development
In the 90s, the Internet had a particular version that was made up of servers. These servers stored HTML documents that can be accessed by the user using a web browser. In the early days, it was said that users were browsing the Internet.
Later on, a developer got the idea to create an HTML page that is present on the server. That resulted in users browsing the webpages that were dynamically created with personalized content, and so began the evolution of server-side programming.
With time the development of HTML became more sophisticated, and people started calling it server-side programming. Also, this resulted in the webpages generated on the server becoming web-based applications. Now if someone is accessing the web, he is basically using the web application through a browser.
Difference between Server-Side and Client-Side Programming
Web development is not just a single activity. There are many terms associated with it that lead to the final creation of any website as you see on your web browser. There are three types of web programming: server-side, client-side, and full-stack development. When it comes to making any website functional, server-side and client-side web developments are equally important. A skilled web developer knows that he needs both of these to give clients a well-designed and working website.
If we compare these two web programming types with full-stack development, we will notice that both these skills are a part of full-stack development. Therefore, most companies hire a full-stack developer so that he can manage their web presence and keep their site up to date with the latest trends and frameworks. But here, we are going to discuss the server-side and the client-side web programming only.
In this type of web programming, a developer will be using their coding skills to create the framework, designs, buttons, and scrolling visual of the webpage. Every part that you see on the webpage is designed and developed by a client-side programmer. Even the animation of pressing a button on the webpage comes under client-side programming.
All the work that a client-side programmer does will run on the client’s device. Therefore, client-side programmers are commonly known as front-end developers as they work on the front-side of the webpage where the user interacts.
The server-side means what happens behind the scenes of the web pages. For instance, you click the ‘Buy’ button on an e-commerce website, and you see a smooth animation that makes the website interactive. But what if you click on the ‘Buy’ button and there is no action?
Well, for the button to function correctly and take you to the next page, the website owner has to implement server-side programming. A code that handles the working of server-side can be written in many languages such as PHP, Python, Ruby, C#, and NodeJS. The code written for the server-side will get full access to the server operating system, and it is up to the developers what programming language they want to use.
A developer writes the server-side code in a web framework, which is a collection of functions, objects, rules, and other types of code constructs that are designed to solve the fundamental problems that a web developer comes across while creating a website. Keep in mind, both client and server-side programming use the frameworks, but the domains for each of them are different, and the same goes for the framework.
Why is Server-Side Programming Better?
The answer is simple, to provide users with more personalization and customization on the webpage. Everyone is doing it right now, whether it’s Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Every business that has a vast user base is making its website more personalized to the user’s needs. Therefore, to be in the race, one needs to opt for personalization.
Let’s take the example of a simple travel blog site that might not need server-side programming at the initial stage. But as the readers grow and the posts on the blog site increase, the owner has to implement server-side programming to make the visitors view the content of their choice. This will result in a better bounce rate and an increase in the time spent by visitors on the site. This example clearly shows that no matter how big or small your website is, you need to implement server-side programming sooner or later.
Best Server-Side Programming Languages in 2021
After learning about the importance of server-side programming, the next thing to know is about the best server-side programming languages for your website. Well, we got you covered. We have compiled here the list of some of the best programming languages that can help you develop server-side applications for your web application.
Let’s first talk about the big elephant in the room that is PHP. No matter how vulnerable PHP is in terms of web development, it was the first programming language that was used to create dynamic web content for the webpage. On the Internet, around 66% of the total websites are using PHP in one way or another as it is a great programming language to develop forums, message apps, and even shopping carts.
Being an open-source and community-driven language, PHP has tons of libraries that require zero to small amounts of time to set up correctly. It also comes with excellent integration with databases and is easy to read and implement. However, PHP programming is unforgiving when it comes to errors due to its openness and dynamically typed behavior.
Python was started as a one-man project to help students learn programming languages. But soon, it became the web development giant that we now know. One of the best things about Python is its syntax which is easy to read and implement. Moreover, Python has some of the best server-side frameworks such as Django and Flask. Besides, a massive library that has almost everything that you need to develop fast and reliable server-side architecture.
But Python is pretty slow since it is an interpreted language. As each framework has its complexity and intricacies, a developer should be aware of these things before getting into Python development.
In addition to this, there is Ruby on Rails, which is more like a Python language. Java is another server-side scripting language that can help a developer create deeply optimized server systems. Also, we would like to mention Net and Perl. As a developer, you need to know that there is no single language that can rule them all.
Each programming language, for both front- and server-end programming brings its set of unique features. Therefore, as a developer, your job is to find the right combination for your project. Hence, the best server-side programming language is the one that works well for you in an efficient manner.
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