Choosing a technology stack for your web application

Business News | 14 Jul |

Are you planning to create a website and mobile application for your business but don’t know how to start? In the era of disruptive technologies we live, having sites or web applications to promote and sell your products or services can make a significant difference to your bottom line. An essential element in web application development is deciding on the right technology stack to use.

Selecting an appropriate technology stack for your software development is critical for your business. An ideal technology stack guards against update issues, while ensuring compliance conformity to align with customers’ needs while saving you a substantial amount of money. It is, therefore, necessary for you to choose your technology stack carefully.

So with no further ado, we are going to roll up our sleeves and get straight into the following topics and hope you find it useful in determining the right technology stack for your application needs;

What is a Technology Stack?

In layman’s terms, a technology stack is a set of programming languages, software, frameworks, tools, and other technologies used by developers in the design, development, and launch of web applications, websites, and other digital products.

There are several factors you need to consider in choosing the technologies to include in your technology stack. These factors may consist of the purpose of your application or website, business size, and organizational culture. Examples of the most popular technology stacks are the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) and MEAN (MongoDB, Express.js, AngularJS, and Node.js).

Things to Consider When Deciding on Your Technology Stack

When choosing a technology stack, there are several factors you should consider. Knowing how to upstage or beat your competition in the race to attract more customers is paramount for any business. To make the process of choosing a technology stack a little easier, we’ve listed some things you should consider for you to ponder on, they are;

• Project size and complexity – The complexity and size of your project, e.g., website, have a significant impact on your choice of a technology stack. The larger your project, the more complicated it becomes. Classifying, which of the three categories your project falls into will help you in your choice of technology.

Small projects – may include single page sites, presentations, digital magazines, portfolios, and other small web solutions. You can use design tools, such as Webflow and Readymag, in creating these projects.

Medium-sized projects could include financial applications, enterprise applications, and online stores. These projects need a more sophisticated technology stack as they have more features and use several layers, a combination of programming languages, and several programming frameworks. These projects involve multiple systems, so your choice of platform is also essential.

Large projects may include marketplaces and social networks, like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, these websites require more speed, scalability, and serviceability. You will also need more complicated tools, technologies, and languages in creating them. Include both functional and non-functional specifications and requirements when selecting a technology stack for this type of project.

• Product functionality and specifications – In your choice of a technology stack, you need to consider the functionalities of your website or mobile application, the demands of your target audience, and your competitors’ capabilities. For your site’s features and specifications, research the existing sites and apps and think of ways on how to improve them in your project.

• Project timeline – If you want to introduce your app or website as soon as possible, you may want to develop a minimum viable product (MVP). You may add additional functionalities later based on your customers’ feedback and your experiences. Also, make sure your stack can meet future requirements of your site or web applications.

• Processing load requirements – Each project has its processing loads. Determine the system load requirements of your project to choose the technology stack with the right capacity.

• Technology Stack Scalability and Flexibility – Technology continues to evolve and change. In expanding, you may either scale horizontally, i.e., adding physical machines or processing units to your database or server, or vertically, i.e., integrating additional software. Some of the tools with excellent scalability are Golang, React, Ruby on Rails, and Node.js.

• Technology Stack Ecosystem – Consider the community of users in your choice of a stack. It is essential to have someone to support you or to ask questions if you experience malfunctions, and your developers are not accessible. You may read the reviews or comments on the stack to determine its capabilities and flaws.

• Technology Stack Security and Safety – Another factor to consider in your choice is the safety and security level you need for your site or web applications. Your stack’s security should be able to prevent hackers who employ sophisticated methods and processes in their attacks.

• Development Team Qualification and Specialists’ Accessibility – Make sure your developers have the qualifications to handle and use the technology stack and complete your projects on schedule. Choose a team with an excellent reputation in the market. If you are living in Australia, Rocket Lab can help you meet all your current and future project needs.

Technology Stack Tools and Other Requirements of Your Web Project

To get your website and mobile application up and running, you will need to have complementing front-end (user side) and back-end (server-side) applications. On the front-end side, it may consist of a browser, user’s smartphone, native app, JavaScript (JS), hypertext markup language (HTML), and cascading style sheets (CSS). The back-end may include the programming language, web framework, web server, database, operating system, and your server. Let us examine some of the standard components of front-end and back-end web application development.

Front-End Development Tools

Let’s take a closer look at some of the development tools and skillsets you’ll need to get started;

• HTML is a programming language used by developers to define the structure of information on a web page. HTML code uses hidden keywords or tags to determine how to format an HTML document. There are several types of HTML. The transitional type is the most common and contains a flexible syntax or grammar and spelling element. The strict type is mainly used on smartphones due to their limited processing power, while the frameset allows the connection of multiple documents into a single screen. HTML5 is the latest version of HTML.

• JS is also a programming language usually employed by developers to introduce interactive and dynamic elements to a website. These web animations contribute significantly to providing an excellent user experience. Developers also use JS in non-browser environments, such as in databases and web servers.

• CSS is a style sheet language used for annotating tags and text in HTML or other electronic documents. It controls the elements of your website, including the fonts, layouts, and colors. There are several CSS styles, namely, the inline, internal, and external. Developers favor the latest CSS version called CSS3 as it supports responsive web design, which enables website components to respond when accessed in different devices.

• Front-end frameworks are sets of standardized and prewritten code structured in folders and files. These frameworks allow developers to save time in web development because they do not have to start from scratch when writing a line of code. Some of the best frameworks include Angular, AngularJS, React.js, jQuery, and Ember.js.

• TypeScript is a programming language from technology firm Microsoft. This open-source JS syntactical superset is ideal for the development of complex and multi-tier projects due to its use of type checking. This language allows both proper code structuring and dynamic programming.

Back-end Development Tools

One of the most important decisions you’ll make in the development process are the server application and framework which will power your website, let’s take a closer look at those areas in a little more detail;

• Server applications – Web servers are responsible for looking for requests by users, retrieving the information, and sending back responses. Developers can use different server-side programming languages in their projects. Some of the leading web servers are;

i. Nginx is a highly scalable server consisting of an IMP/POP3 proxy server. Its main advantages and features are stability, simple configuration, low resource consumption, and high performance.

ii. Apache is an open-source web server from the Apache Software Foundation. It has a modular structure and supports nearly all operating systems, including Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, and Unix FreeBSD.

iii. IIS from Microsoft is an open-source server that supports all platforms using Windows operating systems. It has the same features as the Apache server.

iv. LiteSpeed is a commercial web server and an Apache drop-in replacement. It is compatible with standard Apache features, like mod_security, mod_rewrite, and .htaccess.

v. Node.js is a cross-platform runtime environment mainly used for developing network applications. It is part of the CSS, HTML, and JS stack.

vi. Lighttpd is a server using an event-driven architecture and optimized to handle many parallel connections. Its features include speed optimizations, small CPU load, and low memory footprint. This server supports SCGI, URL-rewriting, FastCGI, Output-compression, Auth, etc. Often partnered with web frameworks, like Ruby on Rails and Catalyst.

• Web framework – This is a software framework used to support web applications development, including web application programming interface (API), web resources, and web services. Your choice of a web framework depends on your programming languages. Some of the leading web frameworks include Ruby on Rails, Django, ASP.NET, MeteorJS, and Angular.

• API – APIs help connect the server and the user. An interconnected APIs assist the server in finding information from and transferring data to the database. Some of the web service APIs are XML-RPC, SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), and JSON-RPC.

• Server architecture – A server architecture defines how a server is designed, created, and deployed. There are several factors to consider when selecting a server architecture for your project, including scalability, performance, ease of operation, reliability, availability, and cost.

• Databases – A database is a system used for storing and managing information that users can access and update. It includes aggregations of data files or records, like customer profiles, sales transactions, inventories, and product catalogs.  You use a database management system (DBMS) to manage a database conveniently. There are several types of DBMS, including;

i. MySQL is a free, open-source DBMS managed by Oracle. This database is compatible with the majority of frameworks and libraries. It is a well-structured DBMS, and it is easy to install. Oracle provides regular updates to its DBMS. Among the more popular companies using MySQL for their services are Spotify, YouTube, Facebook, Airbnb, and Uber.

ii. Redis is an open-source DBMS known for its speed, easy configuration and set up, and ease of use. However, the DBMS has no built-in encryption and only stores five types of data, namely, sorted sets, strings, hashes, sets, and lists. You may need to use an additional DBMS if you use this system.

iii. PostgreSQL is an object-relational DBMS where it represents all data in the form of objects rather than rows and columns. Some advantages of this DBMS include its scalability, its ability to handle terabytes of data, and its advanced security features. Because it is open-source in nature, all support and documentation are provided by volunteers.

iv. MongoDB is a NoSQL DBMS that stores its data in Binary JSON (BSON) documents. Because of this, all data can be transferred between servers and web applications in human-readable formats easily. With its specific geospatial features, this DBMS is excellent in calculating distances and researching customer geospatial information. It is a useful component for a technology stack used for an event, electronic commerce, or gaming application.

v. Elasticsearch is a document-based DBMS used to store, manage, and retrieve semi-structured and document-oriented data. It is a highly scalable system capable of searching through vast volumes of data quickly and in real-time.

vi. OracleDB is a relational DBMS from Oracle with many features and advantages, making it the most popular in the market today. This system is very scalable and can handle a vast amount of data. As Oracle is already transferring all its services and products to the cloud, OracleDB is becoming more flexible. It also has a high degree of security as it uses modern security standards, including the payment card industry (PCI) data security standard.

Conclusion

A responsive and engaging website or mobile application can help bring high sales and revenues to your business. It is, therefore, essential to choose the right web development tools and technologies you use for designing and creating them. In deciding what technology stack to use, consider your short and long-term goals for your project. A well-designed website or mobile application will ensure your customer satisfaction well into the future, long after the shine of the product launch wears off.

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