A Comprehensive Guide to Modern Web Development Stacks
A typical web application consists at minimum of a database, web servers, operating system, and the development environment. Any firm developing websites should have the knowledge and human resources to implement these functions by a number of available platforms in the market. It is also important for clients to understand the tech stacks used by their web developers, as they affect the user experience and application functionality. To help build a functional web application, web development stacks offer a comprehensive collection of tools and technologies as the foundational platform. In this article we delve into the purpose of web frameworks, factors to consider while choosing one, and learn some of the most popular stacks along with their use-cases in modern web development.
Popular Web Development Stacks
Different stacks exist to handle different tasks related to web application development and operations.
Following are some of the top stacks for front-end, back-end, and full-stack web development:
1. Vue (Vue.js)
Popularity is often considered a good measure of viability for back-end frameworks since the most used tech stacks get better community support.
Some popular back-end frameworks include:
A free, open-source, python-based web framework whose architectural pattern follows the model-template-views format. The high-level framework encourages clean, practical design while offering rapid development and deployment. With Django, developers can build every web application’s web features as well as Forms, User Authentication & permissions, Caching, and Data Serialization.
2. Node (Node.js)
3. Express (Express.js)
A minimal, flexible web application framework built upon Node.js to provide extensive sets of features for application back ends. Express.js enables the rapid development of APIs through implementing various HTTP utility methods and middleware.
In a full-stack development, developer teams are responsible for provisioning servers, the underlying platform, user interface and all other components required for a functional website.
Some popular full-stack frameworks include:
Django, Vue.js and Python
This stack builds upon Python, the general-purpose programming language, to create a framework that’s efficient, easy to read, and easy to learn.
This OS-agnostic stack enables the building of quick prototypes through leveraging features such as Class-Based Views and Object Relational Model (ORM). With Django ORM, teams can abstract the complexities of creating and managing databases so that they can build databases without writing SQL code. Using Vue.js for the front-end, this framework combines the best of React.js and Angular.js into one library for building Single Page Applications.
Database - MongoDB
Server-side framework - Express.js
Client-side framework - Angular/React/Vue
A generic software stack model with interchangeable components for delivering high-performance web applications. Commonly used technologies of a LAMP stack consists of:
Operating System - Linux
Server - Apache
Database - MySQL
Client-side programming - PHP
An open-source software development kit used to develop cross-platform web applications for Mac, Windows, iOS, Linux, and Android. The kit comes in a friendly User Interface that enables developers to create natively compiled applications for multiple devices from a unified codebase. Flutter is built with layered architecture for full customization, flexible design and rapid front & back-end rendering.
An extension of Amazon Web Services’ Cloud Development Kit that enables organizations to build applications with managed backends. Using the Serverless Stack (SST), organizations can focus on building clean code while a cloud service provider executes functions that allocate resources dynamically.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Web Development Stack
Choosing the right tech stack to operationalize a web application may seem a herculean task, given the complex and dynamic nature of modern software production. It is important to select the right combination of tools and techniques to operationalize an application as these determine the success of the product in deployment.
Here are a few aspects worth factoring in when deciding on a web development tech stack:
The scope and type of project determine the time and effort investment required to deploy the application.
For instance, Minimum Viable Products require simple, rapid development with flexible syntax, so organizations developing MVPs could benefit from Ruby on Rails. On the other hand, projects on Machine Learning, Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence are best handled with Python since it offers rich libraries and a universal language for managing large data volumes. Besides these, general use projects can be made with stacks that build upon the Java programming language for the range of features and benefits it offers.
Human Resource Talent Pool
It is important to have skillsets in the organization who are familiar with the chosen technology stack. Adding new techniques to the toolchain requires staff upskilling or recruitment, thereby raising operational expenses. Some tools, however, require transferable skills which can be picked up by staff during on-the-job training or transitioning to a new role.
Support for the Stack
Each popular technology has a community that turns out to be the biggest contributor through various phases of the technology’s growth. When selecting a tech stack, organizations should assess whether the technology is supported with sufficient documentation, information, and remediation forums. Additionally, tech stacks should enforce strict source control, with a formalized and standardized versioning system for updates and patches.
Every tech startup and software company considers Time-to-Market a critical factor in development since quicker development and deployment offer a competitive advantage.
Rapid development and deployment also reduce the costs of building the application. Some factors that determine how fast a tech stack delivers products include:
documentation and support
Components of a Web Development Stack
A web application is generally divided into two components: the server-side (back-end) and the client-side (front-end).
Each of these components is composed of consecutive layers of technology implementing different functionalities built atop each other forming a stack. The tech stack is, therefore, the combination of multiple technology services used in the creation of the data ecosystem that helps to run an application. Due to its importance in building an application, choosing the tech stack is often considered one of the most critical factors in application design and development.
Besides influencing the technical factors, the tech stack also helps with the following -
Identify the human skills the organization should hire
Projected efficiency of development teams
Variety of products the company can build
The following section explores various components of a web application and how they relate to web development tech stacks.
An application’s front-end encompasses various components that the end-user can see and interact directly with.
Apart from the user interface, front-end development also utilizes web development technologies running on the Open Web Platform to architect websites and applications.
An application’s front-end is composed of three main components:
User Interface - the visual representation of information generated by front-end software, providing a graphical means of viewing, accessing, and editing website data.
Markup Language - the set of symbols, rules for how they should be used, and the instructions implemented by each symbol to deliver information to the user. Typically, an HTML markup language is widely used in websites to inform browsers and viewing software how to read and display content.
Scripting/Programming Language - these are the tools that give life to dynamic websites. These languages are meant to run as part of the application, inserting interactive elements that make the user experience more engaging.
Front-End development comes with various challenges particularly arising from the fact that tools and techniques used for client-side programming are constantly changing. Additionally, users rely on different devices with varying screen sizes, resolutions and refresh rates, making them a complex consideration during development.
An application’s back-end or server-side contains various processes that run under the hood to service user requests and transactions. Back-end frameworks enable communication between the web service and a database where the site’s content is stored and fetched from.
A back-end also involves processes involved in implementing business logic and accessing other IT resources such as cloud services and file servers.
An application’s back end is a stack of multiple layers, including:
Application Logic - an application logic uses a server-side programming language to develop the application. These are coding platforms used to develop the instructions that guide web servers on how to handle user requests. These languages are usually part of a framework that simplifies coding by eliminating repetition and the need to reinvent the wheel.
File System - every web application needs a file storage platform to manage the system and user data. Modern web applications are data-driven, where IT operations and development are tightly integrated with data analytics to improve product quality and user experience.
Database - a structured data set that enables the organization, storage, and access of information on products, transactions, user identities and other data generated by the application.
Hosting - the service that allows organizations to publish and expose their web services to the internet. Applications could be hosted in-house, using public cloud offerings or through third-party hosting. The right hosting provider is chosen based on the security, speed and reliability of their services.
Web Server - the component of the web application that coordinates communication between users and the back-end service. The web server relies on transfer protocols (HTTP/HTTPS) to transmit data between the front and back ends.
Web Development Frameworks - these frameworks provide templates, structures and components to reduce the time required for building back-ends and front-ends.
Operating System - every server has an Operating System installed that acts as an interface between various development software and hardware resources.
Modern Web Development Stacks
The growth of application-driven business processes has led to the emergence of different tools, techniques, and mechanisms of implementing web applications for different use-cases. As a result, every organization/developer has its own preference for a web development tech stack that solves its purpose.
With the disappearance of the classic web model, various stacks have evolved and embraced to solve common web application use-cases in recent times. In the current technology landscape, there are a plethora of developed frameworks and tools that focus on various critical aspects, such as scalability, user-friendliness, expandability, and stability of web applications. For beginners, while this offers a range of options, this often leads to confusion when it comes to choosing the right tech stack. This section explores key considerations of choosing a web stack, along with outlining some of the popular web development stacks in the market today.
At Enkonix, we take pride in having helped multiple organizations develop complex web applications or help with expert consulting in their web development journey. Whether you are looking to choose the right tech stack, hire a team of skilled programmers, or need help to manage your project, Enkonix can help. Contact us today to know more.