“What is it that you do?”


🏆 Winner of Writer’s March 2021.


“What is it that you do?”

My parents occasionally ask me this question. I shrug it off saying “I make the websites you browse – like Facebook, Youtube.” All the while, the inner me is imagining myself working for Facebook, and Mark is raining dollar bills on me. *sigh*- A guy wishes. 

They leave, satisfied for the time being. Until some random relative replies “What does your son do?” to their boastful “My son is a computer engineer”. 

I read somewhere – Software engineers are pro ‘Googlers’. I laughed and instantly clicked the “thumbs-up” button for there was some truth to it. I have the skill set to know exact keywords to search for, experience to find the required solution, and expertise to copy-paste it into my code. If only the answer was this simple. 

So here I am, a full stack developer, attempting to answer it. 

First I need you to understand a web application. In simple terms it is the every “.com”s that you type. However, you do notice that “facebook.com” is very different from “ekantipur.com”. So is the “Google.com” from every other “.com” you visit. Each “.com” can be compared to what you find in your real life. 

You could say facebook.com is a virtual social gathering platform where you can connect with your friends and family, learn more about their interests, latest life events, opinions. Google is like a dictionary where you can search for topics instead of mere words. Ekantipur is like a newsstand but on your screen. 

Now, time for a little deeper knowledge regarding the intricacies of these web applications. I will take Ekantipur, for now, to help you understand. 

A newsstand operation can be summarized in the following three points.

  1. The owner brings a huge stack of various newspapers, magazines and stores them on shelves.
  2. Then, s/he displays them in front of the stand for you to browse through easily.
  3. You come, ask for the one you want and the owner brings it out.

Think back to visiting “ekantipur.com”. The site writes and collects numerous articles. Then it presents them in your browser window. You click and read the one you want.

Steps 1 and 3 together make what we call the back-end of web applications. The shelves are ‘databases’. The owner is a ‘Server’ who looks through the shelves (databases) to provide you with your desired newspaper/magazine, your desired ‘data’. 

Step 2 is what we call the front-end of web applications. Displaying newspapers/magazines so that you, a ‘Client’, are visually enticed and can conveniently look for what you want is all this end is about. 

My work revolves around these aspects and a little more. I set up shelves (databases) so that the newspapers and magazines (data) are properly organized. I tell owners (servers) how and which ones to provide when you (client) come with a request. The ‘little more’ part concerns DevOps, web security which is best left for another day. 

And Voila! I now bestow upon you the power to answer when the relatives ask about my work and even explain a ‘Client-Server Architecture’. 

If they still don’t understand, just tell them ‘He codes’. 🤷‍♂️

Chumlung Limbu

Chumlung is a Senior Software Engineer at Leapfrog.

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