Web Development Tech Stacks to Master in 2020

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Olga Demidenko
Author, Geomotiv
Published: Apr 10, 2020

Choosing the right tech stack for web development is one of the crucial things to consider. After all, it will determine the functionality, features, and interface of the software. It will eventually impact numerous layers of your business.

The truth is that you can spend hours digging deep into the vast researching options. Before making up your mind, you need to navigate through the number of high-end technologies. And even after long hours searching, it still can be confusing for developers and business owners.

So let's clear things up and dig into web app development. Below we try to understand what tools and technologies power that process. Be sure that by the end of the article, you'll have the full picture of the web development tools ecosystem.

Web Development Anatomy

The best way to understand web development is to represent it as a two-way process:

  • Client-side programming (a.k.a. front-end), which is a user-oriented side of a website or app 
  • Server-side programming (a.k.a. back-end) relates to the part of a website or app that is not visible to end-users.

Both parts of web development should be taken into account to execute the project flawlessly. With them, your product will meet stringent market requirements and remain consistent with time.

Front-End Technology Stack Components

It is hard to imagine the work of a modern front-end developer without the most common technologies out there:

  • HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Sheet Styles). HTML helps to create the frame of each web page. Then CSS plugs in to transform the page and give it a competent look.

But it is not solely about aesthetics. Top ideas for web development include improving user experience and brand awareness on top of the basics. In this case, helpful frameworks that should be used for HTML and CSS are coming to the rescue. Bootstrap and Foundation are among the most popular and loved ones by developers. Bootstrap helps reduce the development time. In addition, it helps to create responsive websites rendered equally in all modern browsers. Foundation gives developers more flexibility when working on the interface. It offers an extended suite of tools that facilitate the creation of large corporate websites.

  • JavaScript. It is a programming language that runs in the browser and adds interactivity and functionality to the web page.

No Javascript tech stack is complete without special tool kits. That tool kits accelerate the web development and provide a structured organization of the code. Among them, jQuery, Angular.js, React.js, and Vue.js are the most preferred frameworks out there. Each of them has its tasks to solve. And it is essential to know their features and application domains.

As for jQuery, it facilitates interactions between JavaScript and HTML. It also fixes compatibility issues across browsers. Angular.js is Google's brainchild. It gets immense support from the tech giant and will be there for years to come. It is primarily used to build dynamic web apps and SPAs (Single-Page Apps). React.js, meanwhile, was developed by Facebook and is recognized by its performance. Vue.js is a relatively new framework that is easy to learn and understand. It requires some basic knowledge of HTML and JavaScript. It is worth noting that Vue is an independent open-source framework not tied to any prominent tech company. 

If we look at the survey conducted by StackOverflow, we can see that jQuery leads the pack as the broadly used framework for web development:

The image illustrates the percentage of respondents opting for a specific technology in 2019.

One of the exciting findings of the survey is that there is a change in attitudes among developers. If we compare the results of the previous year, we can observe that React is catching up with Angular in popularity based on the data available on Stack Overflow's Developer Survey 2018. One of the reasons behind this trend is that React was developed several years earlier than Angular. Since then, it has undergone many changes. As a result, it has become a recognized, convenient tool for developers with numerous ready-made solutions available.

Back-End Technology Stack Components

The back-end part consists of the following components:

  • Programming languages
  • Databases
  • Servers

Programming Languages

Programming languages are used to provide interoperability between databases, servers, and the front end of a website or app.

Among the common programming languages and their frameworks are the following:

  • Python is useful for complex app development powered by the Django, Pylons, Flask frameworks. Python is one of the most wanted ones for developers, according to Stack Overflow's annual Developer Survey 2019
  • NodeJS is a runtime environment used to create server-side apps. As it requires the knowledge of JavaScript, often used in stacks along with the JS front-end infrastructure.
  • Java is a fast, scalable, and secure programming language. It is generally used with the Spring, Struts, and Hibernate frameworks.
  • Ruby is a programming language with a focus on simplicity and productivity. It has a low entry barrier. It also allows one to create powerful apps in a matter of days. Ruby on Rails (RoR) is a mature open-source framework around for more than 20 years.
  • PHP is a widely adopted programming language. Laravel is considered as one of the most popular PHP frameworks.

Databases

Databases provide the permanent storage of the data. They can be either relational or non-relational. 

Let's refer to StackOverflow's survey once again. As it offers one of the most comprehensive coverages of trends among developers, we can find that the MySQL database is the most preferred option:

The image illustrates the percentage of respondents opting for a specific technology. 

MySQL has remained on top of the game. MySQL offers an intuitive interface and batch commands that can reliably process vast loads of data. It's also free software, though it is regularly updated and improved in terms of security.

Servers

Servers receive and process requests from various user devices. Some of the most popular web servers as for now:

  • Apache HTTP Server. According to W3Techs as of May 2020, 38.7% of all websites use Apache. The reasons behind its popularity are excellent documentation and comprehensive support from users.
  • NGINX. In the majority of cases, the server is chosen due to its high performance and scalability. The solution is excellent for handling numerous concurrent sessions.
  • IIS. This web server is implemented on the Windows platform. Since all the settings are set up through a graphical interface, this server is suitable for those who don't like to configure files on the command line. For some, this is the reason to prefer IIS over Apache, which is configured through the command line.

Now that you know the standard components of web development let's proceed to full-stack solutions that dominate the industry. 

Full-Stack Tech Components

The most popular stacks are the following:

  • LAMP
  • MEAN
  • MERN
  • Python-Django

LAMP Stack

The LAMP stack is a suite of free, open-source software. It comprises Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP technologies. LAMP has become the standard of web development and remained classic through the years. 

MEAN Stack

MEAN is a term under which the three JavaScript frameworks (ExpressJS, AngularJS, NodeJS) and a document-oriented NoSQL (MongoDB) database are united. Since ExpressJS, AngularJS and NodeJS are written using JavaScript, the development of MEAN applications can only be written in this programming language. That is one reason why the tech stack remains popular. Another one is its advanced flexibility and accessible code transfer.

MERN Stack

MERN consists of MongoDB, ExpressJS, React/Redux, and NodeJS. It gained immense popularity for using ReactJS for the front-end and NodeJS for the back-end parts. It is widely used for creating high-performance off-the-shelf web applications.

Python-Django Stack

As the Python-Django stack is based on one of the most popular web development languages, it is likely to remain among developers' trends. They generally combine it with the Apache web server, MySQL, and the Django framework for server-side development. Django is the right solution for any website because of the many third-party packages available. If you want to create a complex user experience, to be fluent in Javascript is required.

Our team of tech-savvy developers are ready to help you.

Summing Up

In this article, we focused on the landscape of tools that power modern web development. We aimed to denote which tech stacks come forward and explain their popularity.

For more practical advice on choosing the right tech stack depending on the project size and complexity, go to the second part of our blog posts. You will overview the technologies that are driving the development of modern web apps. In our next publication, we also investigate the tech stacks behind successful projects. Stay tuned!

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