Application technology stack: What are its parts, and how to pick the suitable one?
At Ronas IT, we usually compare the technology stack of applications to cakes and their ingredients. If you manage to choose the right combination, the taste and texture are great, and the overall experience is exquisite. On the contrary, with the wrong composition, your cake might turn out flat or sour. Just like cake ingredients, the wrong tech stack can make the security and performance of your app weak, and even result in a situation when you have to rebuild an app from scratch causing unnecessary stress and hustle.
With this idea in mind, we have decided to write an article and explain what parts the application technology stack consists of, what risks selecting the wrong one may bring, and how to avoid them.
What is an application technology stack?
A technology stack is a set of software tools, frameworks, libraries, programming languages, and other technologies used by development companies to assemble web and mobile applications.
As far as we started comparing application technology stack to food, it’s worth noticing that it also resembles burgers that consist of several layers: two halves of the bun, grilled meat, lettuce, cheese, and so on. Just like the burger, the tech stack consists of several interconnected technology layers that make up an app.
The server side of the application exchanges data with the client side and is called the backend. Usually, it is made up of multiple components, including frameworks, APIs, database management systems, and web servers among others. However, some applications may consist of several microservices. If so, there is a need to select suitable server-side technologies for each of them.
The application technology stack determines the functionality of the product and whether it can be scaled in the future. It also affects the development cost and the time it takes to build an application.
What are the parts of the application technology stack, and what are their functions?
Now that we know what a tech stack is, let’s find out what types of technologies are implemented to build client and server sides of applications.
In the process of setting up the client side of the app, the frontend developers create the navigation structure, the elements of which include menus, links, and buttons. To add, they set up interactive elements like sliders, dropdowns, pop-ups, and data input forms, as well as add animations to make the interface look more engaging. For these purposes, developers use the following application technology stack:
Examples: React, JQuery, Vue, Ember, Backbone, Angular
While the client side of the app can be called the car’s body, the server side is an engine. Specialists responsible for building the latter are backend developers or backend engineers. They ensure that data is stored and retrieved accurately and write scripts for processes like user authentication, session management, and database interactions. Backend engineers enhance the app functionality with third-party integrations and make sure that the interface is secure. They use the following key parts of the application technology stack to set up the server side:
Back-end frameworks. Just like their front-end counterparts, back-end frameworks provide tools, libraries, and components that can be reused in the course of development. They contain features that are necessary for creating an app, such as the proper organization and communication with your database and handling user requests. To add, frameworks provide structure in sending out registration or password reset emails. While some developers can skip using frameworks and start coding from scratch, the downside is that it can lead to more complex and time-consuming development.
Examples: Django, ExpressJS, Laravel, Ruby on Rails, Flask, CakePHP.
APIs. APIs are usually used for integrating third-party functionalities into apps. Developers leverage APIs to access and use data from social networks, integrate payment processing into the application, add interactive maps, enable messaging, and voice capabilities as well as integrate many other services.
Examples: Google Maps API for viewing location-based information, Facebook Graph API to access and retrieve data such as user profile information, posts, and photos, and Stripe API to enable in-app payments.
Database management systems. Software systems called Database Management Systems (DBMS) are utilized for storing, retrieving, and executing queries on data. These components of the application technology stack act as an intermediary between an end-user and a database, enabling the former to perform operations such as creating, reading, updating, and deleting data within the database. Protecting data from unauthorized access is one of the functions of the data management system. It allows developers to implement security measures such as user authentication, authorization, and encryption to protect sensitive data.
Examples: MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle.
Web server. The primary function of a web server is to store, process, and deliver web pages and other web-based content to users. When a user requests a web page, the web server receives the request and responds by sending the requested page to the user’s browser. The web server can also handle other types of requests, such as file downloads, database queries, and web-based applications.
Examples: Apache, NGINX, AWS, Google Cloud, Azure, CloudFlare, Fasty
What are the risks of choosing the wrong application technology stack?
By saying the “wrong choice” we usually mean that the heap of selected technologies doesn’t fit your project goals. Let’s take an example to illustrate this better.
Suppose a client plans to sell clothing through a small online store. In this case, parallel processing of large volumes of data and load-balancing mechanisms designed to support up to one million users simultaneously are not required. Instead, a tech stack that includes a CMS and basic hosting can suffice.
On the other hand, if the client plans to sell thousands of products per day, utilizing a free website engine and cheap hosting just won’t cut it. Such a business scenario requires a tech stack that can handle the high volume of traffic, data processing, and user management to keep up with customer demand.
If the development team fails to choose the right application technology stack for the project, this can cause the following issues:Problems with adding necessary features
The world of business and startups rapidly evolves, that’s why sometimes there is a need to add new features to the app or scale it up. In case, there is a need to add them when the development process has already started, it might turn out that the chosen application technology stack just doesn’t have the necessary capabilities to implement all the necessary features.
In this case, we may take WordPress as an example. Although it provides free templates for web development, you will need a lot of plugins to enhance its functionality. Essential functionality like contact forms and features for enhancing cyber security and SEO can only be installed with the help of plugins. They have to be constantly updated and slow down the work of the web app, which definitely won’t save you from difficulties. Poor SEO and cyber security features make WordPress not suitable for building corporate websites or apps that collect private data.Vulnerability to cyber attacks
Another vital risk associated with selecting the wrong application technology stack is that you might make your software vulnerable to security attacks. If your tech stack is outdated or lacks robust security measures, it can be easy for hackers to exploit vulnerabilities present in your software. This may lead to data breaches, legal issues, and loss of confidential information — all of which could have detrimental effects on your project and lead to one of the saddest consequences — loss of users and potential customers.Inability to find engineers for app development and support
If you’re developing a product or you already have one, sooner or later you may need an update or post-release support. In case you chose an old-school technology, you might have a hard time searching for a developer who is still willing to work with it.
The tech market is constantly changing and new technologies appear, so the stack they use changes as well. To solve this problem in a long perspective, it’s better to choose technologies that are currently on the rise and that are actively used globally. In this case, it would be easy for you to delegate your project to either an outsourcing or an in-house team.A need to rewrite the app with the help of a new app tech stack
If the app maintenance with the current technology gets too expensive compared to others, the code is so messy that it is impossible to add new features, or you can’t find the team to work with the current application technology stack, there is a need to rewrite the app from scratch with the use of different means. In case you choose an unsuitable tech stack, the moment when you need to completely redo the app can come too soon and cost a business a lot of time and money.
4 tips on how to find a suitable application technology stack for your project
Our team has accomplished more than 1000 software development projects. During this period, we have picked up suitable technologies for various types of projects. We have collected a few tips that can help you to avoid the above-mentioned risks.
Tip 1: Analyze the project requirements
Before starting the development, thoroughly discuss the requirements with the project team and make the project breakdown. During this process, it’s important to discuss the following points: What are the key features and functionalities of the app? Are you going to develop a web or mobile application? What are your performance and scalability needs? The mentioned factors will help you narrow down the options and choose a stack that matches the demands of your project.
To elaborate on the right application technology stack, our team usually creates a detailed project breakdown with all the features written in the form of user stories. When the list of features is cleared out, we choose the suitable tech solutions that can be used to implement all of them.
|Flow||User Stories||Estimation in |
|Project initialization||Mind Map||12|
|Inspiration||I can watch inspiration videos||18|
|I can swipe to change video|
|I can comment videos|
|I can like videos|
|I can report video|
|I can see paywall for paid videos|
|I can search for an experience|
|I can search for an experience on specific location|
|Marketplace||I can see recommended offers||20|
|I can search for offers|
|I can explore offer details|
|I can purchase an offer|
|I can use tags to search for offer|
|I can use map to search for offers|
Tip 2: Work with a trusted development company
Development companies that have long been on the market, usually have experience working with various technologies. That’s why they can advise the best application technology stack to build your app and achieve your business goals. Before shaking hands with the software development company, read the reviews they received on Clutch or Goodfirms. When the agency offers you to choose a certain stack of technologies, ask them to provide cases to prove that they have experience working with it and the ability to deliver a running app.
Tip 3: Assess available application technology stack options
If you are going to host an in-house development team, it would be you who decides on the technical side of the app. In this case, it’s important to prove that the technologies you opt for are currently on the rise. By choosing technologies that are popular now, you make it easier for yourself to find developers who are willing to work with the selected stack. Also, popular technologies are constantly updated so their capabilities rise.
You can keep up with changing trends by checking Statista’s surveys on the most popular frameworks, coding languages, and other technologies. Moreover, it’s preferable to use the application technology stack maintained by tech giants like Meta Platforms, Amazon, Apple, and Google. This serves as a guarantee that the tech stack you choose will stay relevant and updated in the foreseeable future. We have created a list of giant tech companies and the most popular technologies invented and maintained by them.
Tip 4: Plan for future changes
When planning the scope of work, don’t forget to discuss the long-term perspective of your project with your development team. Think through the future needs of your application and ask the team to choose the application technology stack that can accommodate those changes without requiring a complete overhaul of the codebase. This will help ensure that your application remains relevant and scalable in the long run.
What application technology stack do we usually use for our projects?
Within 15 years on the market, our team has tried many combinations of frameworks, coding languages, environments, libraries, and other techniques and tools. We adopted some of them as well as dropped some of them. The full list of tools we have tried, you can find in our Ronas IT Tech Radar.
When choosing an application technology stack, we follow several principles. First of all, our team chooses technologies with large development communities, as they have many libraries and extensions that allow the reusing of some elements, building apps more quickly, and saving time and resources for our customers. Also, software created using these tools can be easily handed over to an external team. Moreover, we want our solutions to establish a high level of security and automation. To provide insight into the kinds of methods typically employed in our projects, we’ve listed some examples and explained why we prefer them.
|React||React is a library of modular and reusable components that can be used across multiple projects, helping cut down both development time and cost. It reduces the time to market and is easy to scale up.|
|NextJS||We prefer the Next.js framework due to its fast development process, built-in SEO optimization, and server-side rendering capabilities. With its help, developers can engineer MVPs faster, and the automatic code-splitting feature of the framework helps to enhance app performance and reduce load time.|
|NX||NX is a great framework for releasing MVPs because of its scalable architecture, fast development process, and modular components. Additionally, its built-in tooling improves the quality and performance of your application.|
|SCSS||SCSS is a scripting language that offers a fast and efficient development process, modular and reusable code, and easier maintenance. These features make it the right technology for building MVPs. With its help, we can create complex layouts and styling for your product.|
|Laravel||Qualities like rapid development, scalability, and built-in security features are the key characteristics that make Laravel great for both MVPs and enhancing existing applications.|
|Swagger||Swagger is a set of tools that provides a framework for working with API documentation, code generation, testing, and collaboration. These features can help to speed up the development and ensure that APIs work as intended, resulting in a better user experience.|
|Django||Django is a great choice for development because of its rapid development process, scalability, built-in security features, and versatility. These features make it suitable for building large applications and making them high-performing and secure.|
|PostgreSQL||PostgreSQL is a component of the application technology stack that can handle large and complex databases and is highly reliable and extensible. It is an open-source database solution with a large community of developers, which means it is free and provides many ready-made solutions that reduce development time.|
|Redis||Redis is an in-memory database that operates at high speeds, is highly scalable, versatile, and provides persistence options. These features make it suitable for building a wide range of applications that require fast response times and high scalability.|
|MongoDB||MongoDB is a great choice for startups looking to build scalable and flexible applications that require high performance. With its help, the business owner can get applications that can handle large and complex datasets with ease, and scale up as their business grows.|
|React Native||With React Native, we can provide a startupper with applications that can run on both iOS and Android platforms, reducing the time and cost of building separate codes for each platform. This framework speeds up mobile development and reduces costs compared to other application technology stack options.|
|Flutter||Flutter is another cross-platform framework. Its modular and reusable widgets can be used across multiple projects, reducing development time and cost.|
|Expo||Expo is a set of tools for building mobile apps using React Native. It simplifies the development and provides pre-built libraries, debugging tools, and services such as push notifications and analytics. Expo makes it easier to build high-quality mobile apps for both iOS and Android platforms.|
This is the basic application technology stack we usually use on our projects. We prefer it because it allows us to deliver functioning applications more quickly and with minimum resources.
In conclusion, the application technology stack is a crucial aspect of software development. It comprises different layers of technologies that work together to create a functional application. As technology continues to evolve, it is essential for startuppers and their dev teams to stay up to date with the latest trends and advancements to create innovative and competitive applications as well as constantly run code refactoring to ensure that the app continues to work optimally and meets the changing needs of the users and the industry.
All in all, if you are searching for a team to develop a mobile or web application for your business, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our team can analyze your project requirements, offer suitable technical solutions for them, and turn your idea into a robust and secure interface.