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Published: 21/03/2022

What is a tech stack? Technology stack in a nutshell

What is a tech stack? Technology stack in a nutshell | DAC.digital

In the early times of the internet and mobile apps, developers didn’t need too many services, tools, or frameworks to get the website or app up and running. Creating and maintaining the websites and apps was easy because they were all pretty simple. Now things got a bit more complicated though, as often a single application will be made of multiple elements, each requiring different tools or programming language to use.  

Here’s where developers use technology stacks to manage every part of the application and make sure everything runs smoothly. However, since companies can have vastly different tech stacks, these come in many flavors. What’s the difference between each tech stack, and what should you know about them before using it? What are some popular tech stacks out there today? 

Find out more by reading this article on tech stack.

What is a tech stack?

To put it simply, a tech stack is a combination of software, programming languages, frameworks, and data storage technologies with which developers can build and run a single application. Facebook, for example, uses a combination of frameworks and languages including JavaScript, HTML, CSS, PHP, and ReactJS – this is their “tech stack.”

Looking at the number of programming languages, tools, and technologies available, it might seem like developers could just use the first tool they find to build an app – but it’s nowhere near as simple. When selecting a tech stack for the app or website, developers have to take into account the goals, requirements, and needs of their project and then pick the best fitting tools for it. 

What tech stack is used for a given app can also tell quite a bit about how the app is functioning and what developers need to modify or maintain it. For this reason, tech stacks are particularly useful for hiring developers. If an applicant for a developer position is familiar with most or all of the languages and tools used in the company, then there is a better chance they will be a good fit for the position than if they specialized in a completely different area. 

What is a tech stack used for?

Creating a tech stack aims to maximize efficiency, productivity, performance, and security throughout the website or app development process. With the right tools and technology at their disposal, developers can build a product much faster, with fewer roadblocks, and also be able to predict how much time and budget the project might need.  

 The tech stack used by the developers will have an impact on:  

  • How your product will function now and in the future
  • How easy to maintain and scalable it will be
  • Will it meet the objective of your business/project
  • How and where the data inside it will be stored (Local or Cloud)
  • and many other things.

What does it mean for you as the client? If the developers can match the right tech stack to your project, it means that you can be sure that your new application will be built with your objectives in mind and with the most appropriate technologies for it. 

What’s more, carefully choosing the tools and services that will be used for the project can prevent many development risks from happening. For example, developers can check whether the two features you need for the app will work well together (or not) and modify the project accordingly – rather than having to rewrite most of the code near the finish line because of never-ending bugs appearing during testing.

Before we get to what types of tech stacks are currently used, let’s talk first about what is even included in those sets. A tech stack consists of the front-end (client/user side) and backend (server-side). Frontend technologies include JavaScript, CSS, HTML, UI libraries, and frameworks, while backend technologies include servers and operating systems, programming languages, web frameworks, and databases. 

Since the number of available languages, tools, frameworks, and other development elements is only growing, that basically means there are no two identical tech stacks.

And it’s exactly the amount of options available that might make selecting the right tech stack can be a challenge, especially for businesses on a tight budget. Fortunately, there’s a couple of well-known technologies stack that can be tailored to each company’s needs:

  • LAMP stack: Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP
  • MEAN stack: MongoDB, Express.js, AngularJS, Node.js
  • Ruby on Rails: Ruby, Rails, Rack, Passenger
  • .NET: .NET, MS SQL Server
  • Java: Java, MySQL
  • ASP.net: ASP.NET MVC, IIS, Microsoft Azure, SQL Server
  • MERN/ MEVN stack: Similar to MEAN, with the main difference being replacing Angular.js with React or Vue.js

Each of those technologies stack has its own strengths and weaknesses, so you need to carefully weigh all your options to pick the right stack for your project.

What should you consider before choosing a tech stack?

Choosing the right tech stack for your project will ensure a cost-efficient and successful development project with much fewer hiccups on the road and help your team estimate and stick to the budget. But before you decide on the set of tools and languages for your team, there are several things you should consider first.

Most importantly, you should choose your technology stack based on your app or website’s functionality and usability requirements. Your choice of tools will determine the type of software you can build and the kind of engineers you should hire.

Some of the things you should take into account when looking for the right tech stack for you: 

  • The language or languages you want to use for development
  • The operating system or systems you plan to deploy on
  • What frameworks and libraries are available for the languages you’re using
  • Determining what database technologies you’ll need
  • What front-end technologies do you want to use
  • How much technical assistance do you expect to need from a development team

The biggest mistake you can make here is to pick a tech stack because it works well for other companies in your industry or because it’s currently trending. Instead, you should carefully weigh all your options and pick the set of tools that will work best for your current needs rather than pick the most popular or recommended tools. 

Remember, a wrong choice of technology stacks can end in your project being significantly delayed or falling altogether – leading to a possible financial disaster.

What does a tech stack look like?

A technology stack can be visualized as a pyramid, with the base consisting of low-level system components and the apex representing the most high-level frameworks and tools.

Low-level system components

These are the foundational items that make up your operating system and development environment. For example, in Linux systems, these would include the kernel, shells, utilities, and libraries.

Middleware

This layer includes the application servers, web servers, and caching systems that process requests and pass data to the lower levels.

Application frameworks

These are the high-level tools that help you build your applications. They include everything from basic templates to full-featured development frameworks.

Database systems

The bottom of the pyramid represents your data storage technologies, such as relational databases like SQL Server or NoSQL systems like MongoDB.

Client-side toolkits

The topmost layer includes client-side JavaScript frameworks and stylesheets that help you craft an end-user experience for users accessing your application on desktop browsers (e.g., AngularJS, jQuery, Bootstrap).

How to choose right tech stack for your project?

Possibly the hardest and most time-consuming part of creating your own tech stack is finding out what exactly do you need for your project and which tools could help you the most with it. You won’t know that without taking your time to understand your options, discussing them with your developers, and then trying and testing which solution stack will fit your expectations the most.  

So while this part will take time and effort, it will ensure that your app is built using the most appropriate technologies for your specific needs.  Plus, with the right set of languages and technologies, you and your team can count on several benefits coming from using “the right tools for the right tasks.”

What are some benefits of using a tech stack?

Imagine that you are working with your team on a new mobile app project and are now discussing the needs and requirements of the project. Every single team member has completely different ideas on which language, software, technology should be used, though. How might it end? Most likely, with the project being in chaos. The less agreement between your developers, the higher the project’s risk of failing.

By using a standard technology stack, though, all the developers on your team will be familiar with the same set of tools – whether you use one of the popular stacks or build one from scratch. As a result, everyone will speak the same language and will be able to work together more effectively. That way, choosing the right stack will help you and your developers be more productive and effective – and that means your project will go along smoother as well.

This is just the beginning of the benefits you and your team can reap from choosing the right solution stack. What else can you gain?

Flexibility

Tech stacks enable you to easily make changes to your project as it evolves (e.g., if you switch from a LAMP stack to a MEAN stack, if there is a need to rewrite some code, but there is no major rewrite). In addition, you can use different stacks for different parts of an application, allowing for greater flexibility and a faster development process.

Efficiency

Well-chosen technology stacks help to maximize efficiency by using pre-existing code, libraries, and frameworks. This not only speeds up the development process but also helps to ensure that your code is maintainable and scalable.

Reliability

Many other developers have used all of those technologies before you with success. If you pick the right set of tools, this significantly lowers the risk of your app breaking down in production or crashing unexpectedly.

Scalability

With good tech stacks, you can easily add more users, traffic, or storage as needed. The use of multiple languages and frameworks can help to make your app more scalable. Technology stacks are built to be scalable, meaning that they can easily adapt as your needs change over time. 

What’s great about this is that you don’t have to spend time and money rewriting code as your company grows or shifts focus. This allows you to save valuable resources for other essential tasks like growing the business.

Speed and performance

Building your apps using optimized frameworks like Ruby on Rails can help ensure they run quickly and efficiently for end-users. Plus, using technologies like Node.js and NoSQL databases can help to improve the performance of apps that receive a large number of requests or need to store/retrieve lots of data quickly.

Support

Using a tech stack with an active community (e.g., StackOverflow, GitHub) means you’ll have access to plenty of support and resources when you need them. In addition, a strong community of users and developers surrounds most technology stacks, meaning that you’ll have no trouble finding help when you need it. This can be a huge boon when you’re facing a complex problem or just need a little guidance getting started.

Tech Stack in DAC.digital

We already mentioned earlier that no two tech stacks are the same – since no two companies are the same. It depends on the developer’s skill set and experience, as well as on the projects they work on most frequently. By knowing what tools a company uses for interactive web pages, web, or mobile apps, experienced developers can quickly understand how an app functions “from the inside” and what is needed to keep it running.

However, when looking for a development company, researching what technology stack they use can also be helpful in picking the right one as it will reveal to you straight away what the developer’s main expertise is. Here’s how our main tech stack looks like, for example: 

  • Front End: Angular, React.js
  • Backend: Java, Spring, Kotlin.
  • Data Science: Python, PyTorch, ONNX, OpenCV
  • Infrastructure: AWS, Azure, Google Cloud
  • Mobile: Android, IoS, Flutter, Java. 

 By knowing what technology stacks a software development company uses, you can compare them with your project needs and choose the right company for the job – ensuring that your website or mobile application will look just the way you want it to.

Over to you

What tech stack you (or the company you want to hire) is using does matter. Selecting the right set of technologies will help your developers work much better and ensure that your project will finish on time and within budget. Meanwhile, the wrong set can cause significant delays in the project or even make the entire project end in failure.

To avoid this grim scenario, what’s most important is ensuring you choose the right set for your specific needs, as well as understanding how each technology works and how it will fit into your overall development process. So take your time and don’t rush the decision – it will be worth it in the long run.

Reach us if you need help with software development. Or find out more technology insights on our blog.

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