Using Full-stack Developers for Your Web App

If you’re building a web app or considering it you most certainly will be in need of a developer or development agency. In this search, you may have come across the term “full-stack developer” so in this article we’ll discuss all of these terms and the roles and responsibilities of each.

In this article we’ll learn about;

  • The different types of developers
  • What the types of developers are typically responsible for (including full-stack developers)
  • Pros and cons of hiring a full-stack developer.

Before we start, you might be interested to understand more about the different types of web applications there are. Read about that in our article.

What is the Difference Between Web Apps, Native Apps, Hybrid Apps and Progressive Web Apps for My SaaS App?

What Do We Mean by Stack?

“Stack” refers to the layers of web development and the technology involved typically front end and back end or client and server. You may also have stacks within those stacks. For instance, someone might ask what your front end stack is and the answer might be React, Styled Components, Webpack.

When a developer knows the “stack” they better understand the product and its technical challenges. Each item in the stack requires a set of skills that vary greatly, which we’ll go into now.

Image from “Web Application Architecture Part-2 (Guide to become Full Stack Developer)

Popular Web App Stacks

Here are some popular stacks you might have heard of when it comes to web application development. They contain a mixture of server technology, serverside languages and client-side languages.

  • LAMP stack: Linux – Apache – MySQL – PHP
  • LEMP stack: Linux – Nginx – MySQL – PHP
  • MEAN/MERN stack: MongoDB – Express – Angular/React – Node.js
  • Django stack: Python – Django – MySQL
  • Ruby on Rails: Ruby – SQLite – Rails

We used MERN stack in our project with Ontologue. The benefits of this are that the entire tech stack uses JavaScript which, of course, means it’s easier for a single developer to work on the project.

So, What is Full-Stack Web App Development?

When we discuss web apps and web app development in particular, you might be surprised to know these are actually two jobs, front end and back end developer. The web has become more complex, and these are people who specialise in various fields and have a deep understanding of their field and as such require a specialist skillset.

A full-stack developer combines the role of front end and back end along with creating the database and fulfils all the requirements for the web application project. Full-stack developers have the knowledge of various programming languages and bring the product to the end-stage for release. For the critical MVP stages, both large-scale organisations and entrepreneurs have started to rely on them for building a website or API application.

What is the Difference Between the Frontend and Backend Development?

To understand what a full stack developer is, let’s first understand the difference between the front end and back-end development.

In the front end, client-side development is focused on the app to design the user interface. It will include building a highly responsive and functional app. Some roles front-end developers play includes web designer, UI designer, and User Experience (UX) designer. A person who calls himself/herself a front end developer will have these skills altogether. It mainly requires knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript languages. However, there are still some things that won’t be possible with the front-end. Using this knowledge, a developer will be able only to create a static website.

Technologies a front end developer may be concerened with;

For the back-end, the server-side layer of the web apps is focused. It is advised that the back-end developer must have knowledge of more than two server-side languages and frameworks such as Node.js with Express.js, Python with Django, Ruby with Ruby on Rails, or Java with Spring MVC. It is also quite common for the backend developer to have an understanding of the server technology their code will run on but this role can even be separated out into its own role called “web ops/operations”. DevOps is a term you may have heard but this is technically incorrect which we won’t get in to here.

Technologies a back end developer may be concerned with;

To create a dynamic website, having back-end development knowledge is essential. A dynamic site is regularly changing and updating in real-time, which requires database working efficiency. Websites like Facebook, Google Maps, and Twitter are some examples of dynamic back-end development.

Apart from the front end and back-end, a full stack developer will take care of the database as well. Therefore, you will have the upper hand under all circumstances.

Pros of Hiring a Full Stack Developer for your Web Application:

If you are speculating why you should hire a full stack developer, we have some advantages that you can consider before making your final decision:

Fewer Resources Utilisation with Efficacy:

When multiple teams are working on a single project, there is always a gap left in the front-end and back-end engineering. Appointing a team that works in sync for both front-end and back-end, this means that they will be able to optimize the resource use. A cross-functional team will be a great asset to develop the project efficiently.

Excellent Speed & Performance:

Using languages that are event-driven and have a non-blocking IO model such as Node.js is beneficial. It paces up the web development process and improves performance as well.

Vast Talent Pool:

Recently, engineers are paying more attention to improving their skills. And the preferable languages are only a few. On a worldwide scale, 62.5% of developers are using JavaScript for web development. And fortunately, there are more than 10 million JavaScript developers will advance skills available for your help.

Cost-Effective:

Having a full-stack developer is a cost-effective way for web apps development. They will know how to bring every aspect of the project together in the quickest way possible. Handling a web app project requires a lot of coordination to ensure there is no error.

With the help of a full-stack developer, you will have a significant advantage over the development and designing process of the web application.

Interviewing the developers will provide you an insight into the work they do. Web application design and development can be tricky if you don’t pay any attention. The process needs evaluation, verification, and validation at all stages.

On a personal basis, the developer will also have the benefits of enhancing their skills to a full stack developer.

Expand Development Skills:

Becoming a full stack developer will allow a developer to combine their knowledge of the back end and front-end processes. The knowledge of full-spectrum will make it possible for a developer to create projects and applications alone.

Deeper Understanding of Overall Development:

Having only one side knowledge of web apps development limits your skills. For instance, if you are facing troubles with the server-side development, a front-end developer won’t of much help to you. Hence, getting a deeper understanding of all phases of development will make you master of all.

Serve as Technical Leader:

From a business point of view, a full stack developer would be the right choice to lead the web apps, development team. They understand the complete cycle and guide you at every step of the process. That’s why; full-stack developers are an extremely valuable resource for the companies.

So, hire someone with the right skills, and you will have your SaaS product developed and ready within no time.

Challenges for Full Stack Developers:

However, believing that hiring a full stack developer is only advantageous is a mistake. It comes with a few challenges as well.

Growing Number of Stack:

The first problem with full-stack developers is that stacks have grown immensely. The process isn’t limited to front-end, back-end, and database anymore. It includes machine learning, data analytics, mobile and web development, deployment process, and after release management. Furthermore, These technologies are evolving rapidly, which makes it hard to catch-up with everything.

Standards Hard To Match:

The quality of the software is much of a standard expectation now. Every business has to meet its customer’s expectations to have an excellent user experience. To achieve such high standards, full-stack development is a must.

Different Architecture:

Whether it is the back-end, front-end, or database, every development phase has its own set of problems different from each other. It requires expertise in various programming languages, paradigms, and frameworks. All that knowledge will take time to study, and practicing them in real life is also time-consuming. Hence, being a full stack developer is like taking a course that never ends.

Technology Specialisation:

Starting with the front-end and framework, there is an extensive coding programming combined with Angular, React, and View. Then, there is UI and UX engineering, CSS architecture, prototype, design and animation, and other aspects. After that, tooling, software designing, package management, and other elements of infrastructure are handled. Even the later testing phase also cannot be done by just one person. Each layer of full-stack development is a big challenge in itself. And in that condition, mastering them all requires a lot of effort.

Lack of In-depth Knowledge:

There is a significant disadvantage of being a full stack developer. You may gain complete knowledge of web apps; however, keeping track of every skill might be a little tricky. It is believed that Full Stack Developers are the jack of all trades and master of none. Mastering MySQL, PHP, MongoDB, JavaScript, Node.js, CSS, HTML5, and others will take years. We are not saying that it is impossible to attain, but it is considerably difficult.

A technical expert in your organisation can tackle every problem at various stages, and capable of carrying out a project is a big advantage. The technological revolution has made it clear that to develop SaaS products; we need experts in every field.

In summary, there are many pros and cons to hiring a “one-man-band” web app developer and it really comes down to your unique use-case and the requirements of your product. If you’re interested to hear more, please feel free to contact us and find out how we can help you plan out your web application development.