When you’re developing an application for a client, how do you select the best technology stack?
You’ll want to craft an application that works just as your client wants within the realm of possibility. The technology choice will be largely determined by the developer. But selecting the right technology matters because it will impact the overall performance of the application, its cost, and how long it will take to develop. Likewise, the type of application will help you decide the right technology to use.
Applications aren’t finished once you’ve developed them. They’ll require updates and maintenance. Knowing the technology stack used only makes that process more efficient, even if the development service provider changes.
You also have to consider the impact of the technology stack for web application you select on the ending cost of the project. Some tools are licensed and can cost a pretty penny. Others are open-source and free to use. Together with the requested performance and functionality, the cost is a big consideration when choosing a technology stack.
Technology Stack Defined
The frameworks and tools used in the development of a software product are technology stacks. They’re made up of a specific set of elements that work together to craft a fully-functioning application.
- Front-End (Client Side)
Most of today’s applications are built using Bootstrap for the framework for HTML and CSS. It allows you to craft mobile-first, highly responsive applications with a stellar, front-end component library. It offers an excellent user base too. Foundation is also a good framework, second only to Boostrap and is favored by many developers.
- Back-End (Server-Side)
There are more back-end components in a development stack with many more options available. The user doesn’t see the back end but it contains all the elements that make what they do see work.
- Database: The container for all the application’s data.
- Operating system: The system you’ll be developing within.
- Programming language: The language the app is written in.
- Web development framework: Aids in development and is determined by the programming language selected.
- Web server: The server manages requests and serves requested content.
If that sounds complicated, there is good news. When choosing back-end components, know that there are several back-end stacks that are pre-assembled for you. These stacks have proven track records for producing quality applications.
- LAMP: It features Linux for the operating system, Apache for the webserver, MySQL as the database with PHP as the programming language. LAMP is a favorite choice for its flexibility and scalability. It also works with Windows or Mac for the OS.
- MEAN: It features MongoDB for the database, Express.js as the application framework, AngularJS for the front-end framework, and Node.js as a runtime environment. MEAN is a complete framework solution that covers both front-end and back-end.
- Python-Django: This Python-based stack uses Apache for a web server with a MySQL database on a Django framework written in Python. You can quickly build high-quality apps using this stack.
There are also serverless architectures available as services for application development that you can use to simplify the process.
The Right Technology Stack for the Project
The technology you choose will determine how your app’s crafted, run and maintained. When determining the best technology stack for a given project, it’s good to keep the project parameters in mind.
How big and complex your planned application is will play a big part in the technology you choose.
- Small: If the project is small, make sure developing an app is necessary. Could the end goal be met with a content management system like WordPress instead? If an app is a right call, your minimal viable product (MVP) could be made fast with Node.js-React or Python-Django.
- Medium: For most enterprise apps or online stores, more complexity is needed. LAMP, MEAN, and MERN are good choices.
- Large: If you’re developing a worldwide marketplace or a social network, you’ll need a stack that allows for easy maintenance, speed, and above all, scalability. Projects on this scale are normally developed using Angular-Node.js, Python-Django, or Ruby on Rails.
The technology you choose will also impact your time to market as it impacts third-party integration and reusable components. If the stack you choose make integration easy, the development process will go faster. The MEAN stack works very well with third-party integration.
The skill level of the development team is also a factor. If the team is familiar with a given stack and their components, it will speed up the process. Otherwise, a stack that’s easier to use should be considered.
The majority of the frameworks and web developing tools available are open-source and allow for modification. While you may be able to get some of the tools free, unless you plan on doing the development yourself, the cost of hiring an available developer has to be considered. Their fees, depending on their skill set and expertise, can be considerable.
For app development, think of scalability as two options: scaling up and scaling out. Scaling up means developing the app in such a way that additions can be made or new functions added. Scaling out means developing the app to handle increasing numbers of requests.
When selecting technology, know the scalability potential of any stack you’re considering. Stacks like MEAN have excellent scalability potential.
The technology stack you ultimately choose for a project should closely match its parameters. The technology stack is only one part of the development process. The other part is your team of experienced, skilled developers who will use the stack and its components to build a quality application. Your team will utilize the stack to its full potential to create an app that functions as planned and provides an easy-to-use and engaging user experience.