So, you have a new software project in the pipeline. That’s great — but don’t roll up your sleeves just yet.
Whether you’re looking to build a website, a simple mobile application, or the next Facebook, you can’t start working on it before the main tech stack definition is completed.
And if you’re new to software development, this starts with learning what a tech stack is.
In this article, we’ll provide an easy-to-understand tech stack definition, unpack the major tech stack categories, and share a few tips on choosing the right stack for your needs.
Let’s dive right in!
What Is a Tech Stack?
The first step to creating a successful tech stack is knowing what “tech stack” means. There are many definitions out there, but the one we recommend is very simple.
Our Tech Stack Definition
A tech stack is a comprehensive list of the technology solutions used to develop and run a software project or application.
Examples of tech stack components include operating systems, databases, programming languages, frameworks, and more.
Other terms for tech stack include:
- Technology stack
- Solutions stack
- Technology infrastructure
- Data ecosystem
What Happens If You Pick the Wrong Tech Stack?
Getting your tech stack right from day one is paramount. It can be tough to switch tools once work has started. Not only does the migration process eat up time and resources, but it may also disrupt functionalities or create incompatibilities between the different tools.
Important Tech Stack Categories You Should Know
Here are some common tools that make up the modern tech stack:
Operating Systems (OS)
An operating system is a solution that enables you to run various applications on a hardware device. It’s the interface through which all other stack components access the computing power and resources they need to function.
You’ll typically choose an operating system based on the environment you’re most comfortable developing in and the type of application you’re building. The most popular OSs are:
- Mac OS
- Microsoft Windows
Servers & Load Balancing
This category encompasses various technologies that enable applications to send and receive requests, work smoothly, and scale capacity. Examples include:
- Caching services
- Content distribution networks
You can purchase these in bulk. Alternatively, larger providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud often offer these services as separate items, enabling you to create custom solutions based on your business processes and product requirements.
Storage & Databases
This category encompasses data warehouses, data pipelines, and relational and non-relational databases. These components are responsible for storing both real-time and historical data. They also largely determine what happens inside the application and how users interact with it. Popular storage and database solutions include:
- Azure SQL Synapse
A programming language is a set of vocabulary and grammatical rules developers use to get computers to perform specific tasks. In other words, this is the code you will use to build your app.
Backend development is responsible for behind-the-scenes functionalities. Popular backend languages include:
- Ruby, and the list goes on.
A framework is a collection of several basic functionalities required to build and run an app, such as programming languages, libraries, and other utilities. This enables you to save development time by using pre-made structures rather than coding everything from scratch.
Popular frameworks include:
- Frontend: Angular, React, Vue, Ember, Backbone…
- Backend: .NET, Spring (for Java), Laravel (for PHP), Django (for Python)…
DevOps is not just a mindset, it is enabled through tools and processes that uphold efficiency, collaboration, and automation. It runs through every stage of the SDLC and will optimize the way development and operations teams work with each other.
Some of the most popular DevOps tools our there are:
- GitLab( source code management/version control tools)
- Docker (for containerization)
- Kubernetes (container orchestration platform)
- Jenkins (CI/CD management)
- Ansible (configuration management)
- Chef (automation)
A frontend tech stack includes various types of tools that help create and enhance the user experience. These can be anything from operating systems to fronted programming languages and beyond.
What solutions make the best frontend stack for you depends on the type of software you are building (mobile, desktop, or web app) as well as your business goals, internal processes, team structure, and more.
How to Define Your Tech Stack Correctly
Although each business is a unique case, and there is more than one correct strategy for tech stack definition, these best practices can help you on your decision:
1. Identify the Product’s Most Important Functionalities
What value are you looking to bring to users, exactly, and what technologies are best-equipped to deliver it? You should always kick off the software development process with these two questions.
2. Consider the Frontend Tech Stack
It’s a good product development practice to decide on the user interface early on. Consider what you want your customers to see and experience, and check which frontend technologies can deliver that.
Consider what type of application you are building before starting with the frontend. While the UI/UX is critical for some application, for others such as internal back-office tools, it may not be a priority.
3. Keep Industry Standards in Mind
Certain tech stacks perform better in certain industries than others. For example, some solutions are a particularly good fit for e-commerce applications because they enable you to handle customer data easily.
4. Consider the Talent Pool
Is the stack you have in mind modern? Are there enough experienced developers in your hiring region willing to work with these technologies? In other words, don’t pick Elixir if you know that you’ll have a hard time finding experts in this relatively new language.
5. Look for Existing Support and Technological Continuity
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. You can’t go wrong with open-source tools with ample documentation, mature libraries, and a sizable online community to learn from. You should also ensure that each technology/framework is actively maintained and has a team that can provide support and ongoing maintenance if needed.
Need Help Defining Your Tech Stack?
Choosing a solution stack is always challenging but can be especially daunting if you’re new to software development or aren’t a professional developer yourself.
The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. Our software consulting team is always there to help.
Contact us today to tell us about your project and your organization, and we’ll assemble the best tech stack for your needs.