3 top picks for backend development in 2022

From AI to Cloud, there are as many software development trends predictions as  people. The diversity and complexity of the IT world make compiling an exhaustive, objective forecast nearly impossible. A subjective list, however, is much easier to assemble, which is why we’re bringing you our choice of backend technologies that can benefit you at the beginning of 2022. Sit back and enjoy!

Backend development choice #1: Python

Let us start with Python: a high-level dynamically typed programming language that has been gaining momentum in the IT world for quite a while. Conceived and first implemented in 1991, it remains one of the three best-known and most in-demand programming languages in the contemporary developer community, according to the CodinGame 2021 Developer Survey.

CodinGame 2021 Developer Survey
Source: CodinGame 2021 Developer Survey

So what exactly makes Python one of the best backend development choices you can make in 2021?

Python: the most-loved programming language

To begin with, Python does exceptionally well in community popularity rankings. Once again, it was awarded the TIOBE programming language of the year 2021 title, having gained the highest growth in popularity in one year (+1.86%). The TIOBE Index is a programming language chart based on the number of professional engineers worldwide and the number of courses available. As its creators observe,

there are no signs that Python's triumphal march will stop soon.

Other reports offer similar conclusions. For example, in the Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2021, Python ranks as the sixth most loved programming language (67.83% of respondents declare it’s their most loved choice) and the most wanted language (19.04% of the surveyed developers would like to learn it). Not to mention that it’s the third most commonly used programming language, picked by 48.08% of Stack Overflow’s survey respondents.

If you’re about to kick off your software development project, popularity is surely one of the factors you need to bear in mind. Regardless of whether you want to assemble a knowledgeable in-house team or find a reliable tech partner to support you in building your product, going for a widespread technology will surely help start the development process much faster.

Language simplicity means faster backend development

One of the reasons for so many programmers cherishing Python is its simplicity. Python’s syntax resembles that of the English language, which makes it straightforward and concise. It also doesn’t require developers to use low-level functions like memory management to get more advanced work done.

To give you a practical example, if you were to code the same functionality using Java, it would take three to five times longer than coding it with Python. The equation is simple here: fewer lines of code mean faster development and easier maintenance.

Abundance of frameworks and libraries supporting Python

The third reason why picking Python for backend development in 2021 seems like a good idea is the plethora of frameworks and libraries which allow developers to automate the implementation of certain tasks and, as a result, put greater attention to the application’s business logic. As every framework responds to different needs, its choice should be made based on project requirements.

Most often, you’ll come across two big players: Django and Flask. The former is a high-level web framework which is said to be the go-to solution for perfectionists with deadlines. What does this claim mean in practice?

  • When used properly, Django prevents the most common security mistakes such as cross-site scripting, cross-site request forgery, SQL injection, and clickjacking, which makes this framework a good tech choice for all who care about data safety.
  • Django offers a wide range of extras such as content administration, site maps, RSS feeds, and many more. This full package not only speeds up the development of an MVP or a proof of concept but also facilitates the process of adjusting the product to its users’ needs by customizing, adding, or unplugging separate components.
  • With regular releases (some of them designated as long-term support) containing new features, improvements, and security patches, Django is undeniably an up-to-date framework.

An often picked alternative to Django is Flask, a microframework that – offering only the basic tools and capabilities – ensures flexibility and gives developers greater control over which components they use and how they’re implemented. In other words, Flask is a simple yet extensible solution that will work best for smaller projects requiring a greater degree of customization.

Most loved (blue) vs. most dreaded (purple) web frameworks
Most loved (blue) vs. most dreaded (purple) web frameworks.
Source: Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2021

In 2022, however, we’d like to direct your attention to an underdog: FastAPI, a web framework for developing RESTful APIs in Python. The framework was created by Sebastián Ramírez, who, being a developer himself, wanted to make the lives of his colleagues easier. Popularity rankings show that he did a good job at that – this year, FastAPI was named the third most loved web framework in the Stack Overflow Developer Survey. Developers aren’t the only ones to praise FastAPI; tech giants like Uber and Netflix have been using it for a while as well.

What makes FastAPI so lovable? Its biggest advantage is the focus on speed. Based on Starlette and Pydantic, FastAPI is one of the fastest Python frameworks available, and in terms of performance, it can be compared to Go or NodeJS. Straightforward and easy to learn, it also enables developers to build features up to 300% faster than other Python frameworks. Last but not least, it’s said to be highly intuitive and to minimize code duplication, both of which should result in fewer bugs.

📙 Learn how to use FastAPI for microservices in Python!

Speaking from our own experience, FastAPI works great in projects that favor flexibility. Unlike Django, FastAPI doesn’t enforce ready-made solutions, which will be a blessing for ambitious developers who enjoy going off the beaten track in cherry-picking solutions that will best address the client’s business objectives.

When is Python the best pick for backend development?

Python is capable of unleashing its full potential when used in web development, machine learning, and fintech. Moreover, thanks to its scalability, it also proves to be popular among startups. You can check a whole range of Python’s applications in our extensive guide on what's it used for. So as you can see, regardless of whether you’re looking to build a large or small digital product, chances are, you’ll find a relevant Python framework and a knowledgeable team pretty fast.

However, when looking for a tech partner who’ll help you launch your Python project, remember about one thing: make sure they are working with the up-to-date version as it contains all the newest features. At the time of writing this article, the newest one is Python 3.10, with the latest release being Python 3.10.1.

Backend development choice #2: Kotlin

What do AWS, Atlassian, Adobe, and Allegro all have in common? Sure, their names begin with “a,” and they all are considered big shots in their industries, but the fact that we’d like to highlight is that these companies are successfully using Kotlin for server-side development.

Wait, isn’t Kotlin about Android development, you may ask? It definitely is, with 60% of professional Android developers using it as a go-to programming language and Kotlin being an officially recommended language for Android development. That’s not the only application of Kotlin, though. As the State of Developer Ecosystem 2021 shows, the language created by JetBrains serves backend development almost as frequently – and as such, we just couldn’t help but feature it on our list.

What do you use Kotlin for?
Here’s how devs answered the question “What do you use Kotlin for?”.
Source: State of Developer Ecosystem 2021

Taking inspiration from Java

Kotlin is a statically typed, general-purpose programming language. When designing it, JetBrains’ mission was to create a language for object-oriented programming that would compile as quickly as Java. In the end, they gave birth to a language that’s fully compatible with Java and runs on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), but at the same time offers considerable advantages to the developers. Some of the most striking benefits of using Kotlin instead of Java include:

  • improved scalability thanks to support for Coroutines,
  • eliminating the threat of null pointer exceptions presenting null safe operators,
  • combining the features of both object-oriented and functional programming,
  • reducing the amount of developers work, an example of which can be concise data classes.

When comparing server-side development in Kotlin to the backend written in Java, many developers find the former a breeze: it’s more straightforward, more readable, more concise, and less prone to bugs. All of that translates into more efficient development, higher quality of code, and greater developer satisfaction. If that’s not enough to convince you to switch from Java to Kotlin in 2022, we’d recommend mixing the two languages – it allows you to uncover the benefits of Kotlin at your own pace without harming the project.

Spring vs. Vert.x or a versatile giant vs. a flexible toolkit

Being present on the market for over a decade, Kotlin boasts many web frameworks that developers choose from. Much like in the case of Python, we’d like to draw your attention to two solutions that are as different as chalk and cheese: Spring and Vert.x.

According to JetBrains, Spring is the most favored Kotlin-supported framework, with roughly 50% of all JVM-based projects utilizing it. It is used by 14.56% of respondents of the previously cited Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2021. Its popularity is said to derive from the uncomplicated and effective solutions it employs. One of them is dependency injection and inversion of control, thanks to which dependencies are clearly defined and requirements resolved easily. It’s worth noting that Spring is a bit like Django in that it offers a versatile set of features, and it works well in REST or GraphQL-based applications, where performance isn’t the top priority.

The abundance of solutions that Spring brings to the table is not always a good thing, though. Sometimes, it may make the developer feel more like a user who needs to obey Spring rules than a software creator with limitless possibilities. If that’s the case, we’d advise picking a more flexible – or, continuing the Python analogy, more FastAPI-like – solution. For 2022, we’ve chosen Vert.x, a com­pos­able and em­bed­d­a­ble toolkit that doesn’t impose any particular structure on the application. Much like FastAPI for Python, Vert.x is said to be one of the top-performing JVM frameworks. It’s resource-efficient, concurrent, and asynchronous, all of which make it particularly fit for WebSocket-based software, such as chat or online streaming apps. Last but not least, it’s a reasonable choice for building event-driven microservices.

Backend development choice #3: Node.js

Wait a minute, hasn’t this article been mostly about programming languages so far? True, unlike Python or Go, Node.js is a runtime environment. However, drawing from our own experience, we can assure you that leaving Node.js out of this guide for consistency purposes only would be a mistake. Why is that?

Enjoying all the benefits of JavaScript

Let’s start from the very beginning, namely that Node.js is a JavaScript-based solution. Therefore, using it for backend development in 2022 allows you to enjoy all the benefits of this high-level programming language, the most important of which is its immense popularity.

Just to give you an idea, in this year’s edition of the Annual Developer Survey, Stack Overflow has – for the ninth (!) time in a row – named JavaScript the most commonly used programming language. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that adopting Node.js as part of your tech stack, you’ll get to choose the best from the vast talent pool of skilled JavaScript developers.

Popularity of the selected programming, markup, and scripting languages
  Popularity of the selected programming, markup, and scripting languages.
Source: Stack Overflow Survey 2021

Another advantage worth mentioning is that with Node.js, both the frontend and backend of the application speak the same programming language. Projects using this solution can be handled by full-stack teams that rarely, if ever, face the challenge of translating how specific features or parts of code work in a different language. This accounts for more effective communication and efficient work.

Vertical and horizontal scalability

Another argument for picking Node.js for backend development in 2022 is that it guarantees the ease of scaling your product in two ways. On the one hand, it allows you to scale it vertically by adding new resources to the existing node. On the other, it makes it easy to scale the app horizontally with the addition of new nodes. Speaking of scalability, Node.js is also a great tech choice for microservice architecture.

📙 Check how to build microservice architecture using Node.js and Moleculer.

As it facilitates building separate components that easily complement the larger application, Node.js allows for saving money at the initial development stages, thus potentially shortening the time-to-market of your product. This feature alone makes Node.js an advisable backend development choice for MVPs and other scalable applications susceptible to high traffic.

Outstanding performance

Last but not least, Node.js offers the benefit of improved performance. All thanks to being built on Google Chrome’s JavaScript V8 engineit compiles the code directly into the machine code, resulting in its faster implementation. On top of that, Node.js supports the non-blocking Input/Output operations. It means that rather than being executed sequentially, the requests are processed asynchronously. This, in turn, shortens response time.

NestJS: the trending Node.js framework

Having decided on the JavaScript runtime for backend development, you’ll be soon wondering about the right framework to complement it. Our pick for 22 is NestJS, which is used by companies like Adidas or Roche, and as of January 2022, boasts over 43k GitHub stars. Why do we recommend choosing it over ExpressJS?

First and foremost, it’s a very orderly solution. Unlike Express, which takes a minimal approach to architecture, NestJS helps developers write well-arranged code. The results are ​​highly testable, scalable, loosely coupled, and easily maintainable applications. In fact, this framework’s approach to architecture is similar to that of Angular and, as Kamil Myśliwiec, the creator of NestJSm observes:

Nest becomes much easier for people who already have experience in Angular and creates a kind of a bridge to backend world for people interested in this field.

Then, it’s worth noting that NestJS provides an abstraction level above the popular Node.js frameworks and exposes their APIs, which means that developers can use all the third-party modules that are typically available to Express or Fastify. And speaking of modules, the out-of-the-box NestJS modules facilitate integration with Swagger, GraphQL, CQRS, as well as caching and logging solutions. That’s by no means a finished list – and it’s pretty impressive in itself, isn’t it?

Another thing worth mentioning is that NestJS is built and fully supports TypeScript, which facilitates writing bug-free code. You can use the superset of JavaScript with ExpressJS as well. The thing is, you need to prepare your ExpressJS project for doing so, while NestJS allows you to use TypeScript from the very beginning.  Last but not least, as Nest CLI is very user-friendly, it gives the dev team a significant productivity boost.

The above-mentioned benefits make NestJS a perfect choice for kicking off projects that are meant to be scalable and easily maintainable, such as large-scale enterprise applications. If you’re looking to build microservices, this framework can be your go-to option as well.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fiercest backend solution of them all?

Now that we’ve shown you how to step up your server-side game with Python, Kotlin, Node.js, and their frameworks, we need to make one thing clear: at the end of the day, the choice of any tech stack is project-dependent. It’s the product vision, business objectives, and the actual users’ needs that determine which backend development solution will work best for you.

To see how we utilize these backend development trends in real-life projects, check out our portfolio.

Navigate the changing IT landscape

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