What technical stack should I pick for my web app?

Startups Technology Innovation

Posted by Enrico on May 18, 2017 1570

First, website technologies are divided into front end and back end. The front end is the visible part of a web application. You can hear a lot said about user experience or user interface optimization. You should choose your front-end stack to optimize the conversion from website visitors to paying customers. The most common industry-standard languages are HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and jQuery. In addition to those technologies, you can pick a framework such as AngularJS and/or React (both based on JavaScript) to optimize usability and improve the general user experience.

The back end is what you don’t see. It’s the code that, among other things, takes care of retrieving and writing the data into the database. The major back-end technologies are PHP, Ruby, Python, .C#, Java and Scala. They all present pros and cons but, overall, they are solid coding languages. Developers tend to use frameworks to speed up development. Think of a framework as a collection of coding functions that you can reuse to build software efficiently. The most predominant frameworks are Django (PHP), Ruby on Rails (Ruby), .NET (C#), JavaEE (Java), Node.js (JavaScript based) and Play (Scala). Of course, this list is far from being exhaustive.

In addition to the front-end and back-end coding languages, you also need to choose a database to store and retrieve your information. The most-used open source databases are PostgreSQL and SQL. I tend to prefer the former. Of course, other very advanced and industry-specific databases are also available.

The full stack refers to your front-end plus the back-end technology. My favorite stack is probably Node.js for the back end and React for the front end (with PostgreSQL as the database), since they are both JavaScript-based and you would need to master only one language.

As a general rule, instead of focusing on the technology itself, I look at the technology mastered by the team’s most experienced developer. If my technical co-founder is a PHP guru, I would let him or her build the application in that language unless a specific stack was required.

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    Enrico Tam

    MBA, PhD, tech entrepreneur, maker

    Hi, I’m Enrico and I started hacking at 9 years old back when it was Visual Basic. After trying to become a professional tennis player I somehow got entangled in a PhD in engineering, an MBA programme and a big consulting fir... (continued)

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