Let’s continue with the fourth blog of the series, which is on a very crucial topic, selection of technology stack for startups. We mentioned startups here, specifically because, if you have been into the app development business, you are already well-versed with the concept of Technology stack. And even if you are not, don’t worry, we have covered you here.
So in the last blog, I, Sanjay Kidecha, have guided you through the wireframing stage of app development and its importance. The very next step in the mobile app development process, is to select the right technology stack for the project. I have written this blog under the guidance and instructions of our CEO, Mr. Mihir Mistry. He holds profound knowledge about the technologies and loves to keep himself up to date with the latest tech updates. This is a well-articulated article prepared after considering all his valuable inputs.
If you have missed any of our previous articles read, please find the list here. You can also find out about the next topic in the series.
4. A complete guide on selection of technology stack for startups;
11. How Feedback and product iteration makes a difference in product development?
12. What is the variation in the cost? What factors affect the variation?
13. Why is a Good design the ultimate thing in the project?
Today it is difficult to do business without having an app for it. Why? Because it allows you to meet the comfort expectations of customers and reach millions of them in no time. The outreach will not have been possible if you follow the traditional brick and mortar store practices.
Understanding the core concept of the technology stack and picking up an equitable technology stack allows you to develop a scalable, feasible, and cost-effective application. And in this journey of going online & leveraging your market reach, the right technology stack for mobile apps will allow you to roll out a great product. So, let’s have an in-depth review of what technology stack is and how it will help you adhere to the market standards?
What is a Technology Stack?
Irrespective of your target platform (mobile or web), the Technology stack is an amalgamation of software tools, programming languages, interface designing tools, and testing frameworks. All of these technology stack elements are built on top of the other and are interlinked. It’s like building blocks and forming a “stack” of the supporting elements.
A proper selection of tech stack for mobile apps, lets a mobile app development company build a robust and scalable product. A technology stack is further categorized and defined into four major components.
And other technical attributes like performance & security.
For the sake of simplicity, I will elucidate each category in detail here.
HTML is the basic abbreviation known to everyone in the industry. HyperText Markup Language (HTTP) is used to design the frontend structure of the application. The elements and attributes of HTML are easy to understand and implement.
Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) is a style sheet language used in combination with HTML to apply styles in an HTML designed page. The amazing part is, it is independent of HTML, and hence you can update CSS without disturbing the HTML.
Backend development, aka server-side programming, assists in adding logic to the application’s pages. It assesses the user input, processes it, and gives you an output result. Backend development is an interpretative step of the mobile app development process. It is responsible for storing all the important information, processing it at the back end, and showing results.
The important components of backend development are programming language, frameworks, design patterns, microservice architecture, web servers, and databases.
I will also like to mention some of the popular programming languages and frameworks, respectively, that are used for server-side programming.
Programming language: Ruby & Framework: Ruby on Rails:
Ruby is a versatile, dynamic, object-oriented programming language. Yukihiro Matsumoto developed it to support data validation, user management, and more.
Programming language: Python & Framework: Django, Flask, and Pylons:
Another excellent programming language used for backend development and system integration is Python. Some of the popular Python supported frameworks are Django, Flask, and Pylons.
Programming language: PHP & Framework: Laravel:
PHP is another server-side programming language widely used for backend development. Laravel is a free and open-source PHP platform based framework that follows MVC architecture with eloquent ORM to work with your database. You are not required to avail license for PHP platform based development or deployment of commercial applications and are capable of developing an app in less time.
It is a preferred programming language for small scale web applications. PHP allows you to deploy patches without facing any downtime. It is a dynamic scripting language having CodeIgniter, Yii, Symfony as available framework options along with Laravel.
Programming language: Java & Framework: Spring:
Java is a robust and highly popular backend programming language. It is used to build scalable applications with n-layers of architecture. Spring is a powerful, lightweight Java-based framework that extends its support to various other frameworks like Struts, Hibernate, Tapestry, and more. Spring has excellent third party library support for the integrations with social media, messaging services, LDAP, relational and non-relational databases etc.
The third essential component of the technology stack for a mobile app project is,
A mobile app development platform is a place where you create, test, and launch your mobile application. You can use multiple tools and services to bring out the best of user interfaces and design in an application.
A development platform needs to be selected after proper deliberation on whether you wish to launch a cloud-based or on-premise services. Also, you can choose between low-code platforms to codeless ones.
It will be in your best interest to consider the following things while selecting the development platform for your project.
Development platform’s ease of integration with the databases, backend systems, and third party APIs.
Check the integrated development environment and the feature set of the platform.
Ensure if it allows you to integrate with project lifecycle management tools seamlessly.
Also, the platform should allow you to integrate backend services like push notifications, authentication, tokens, etc.
Talking about the fourth component of technology stack,
All the other elements that affect the performance, security, and robustness of the applications fall under the “additional requirements” category of the technology stack.
A database is a collection set of information. Considering any type of application (gaming, social media, shopping), a database stores records of any kind. You can choose between the two types of databases, relational and non-relational. You will find a variety of databases, but I would like to mention only a few relevant and effective.
It is an object-relational database that is much preferred for the collection of financial records, research works. PostgreSQL efficiently handles large amounts of data processing and is exceptionally reliable for performance and robustness.
MySQL is again a relational database suitable for website development. It is known for its powerful performance and scalability amongst web developers.
MongoDB is a non-relational database having a document-based data model. MongoDB is a go-to option for developers who are crafting social media apps, news forums, blogging applications and gaming applications etc.
Oracle is a powerful database capable of storing ample amounts of data.
A few other databases on the list are Redis, Elasticsearch, and Memcached.
Every request that is made on the frontend goes to the server. A server processes it and gives a relevant search result back. You can pick anyone between the two prominent server players.
To conclude: The most popular backend technology stack is LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP). However, in recent times, developers embrace the new player in the industry, which is MEAN (MongoDB, Express.js, AngularJS, and Node.js).
You may ask me, why is it so important to find a suitable Technology Stack? What would happen if you skip this part and directly jump onto the next app development step? Let me answer that for you.
A right technology stack defines the attributes of your future application. It mitigates the chances of severe application’s problems at an initial stage and reduces the app’s time to market.
The selection of the right technology stack for web and mobile application development is also the reason behind the launch of a successful, robust, and scalable application. I am saying this because we practice this brainstorming before selecting Technology Stack for any of our client’s projects. And to our surprise, the results to date are satisfying.
Here are a few highlights of the satisfactory results you may achieve by selecting a perfect Technology Stack.
You will have a powerful application having a remarkable performance;
You can easily refer the technology stack document at any stage of development and quickly fix any bugs or issues in the application;
It will be easier for you to maintain the codebase and you will be saved from spending extra money behind maintenance & other technical refinements;
If you define the Technology Stack, it would be easy for you to hire a dedicated developer with respective stack knowledge. The developer would have hands-on experience in technology because they will be able to code better and deliver faster.
I am not trying to scare you here, but it’s my job to highlight the challenges that you might face if you select a wrong technology stack for web development.
It would become an expensive affair to rectify the after-effects of a wrong technology stack selection;
You will have to invest extra time and walk the extra mile in doing the groundwork to build an app using the right technology stack.
If you choose your technology stack randomly, you may find it difficult to find experienced developers.
Not taking the Technology selection exercise seriously may end you with an unsustainable technology stack selection. Also, you will have to match with the frequent update cycle of the stacks.
I am sure you do not wish to end up in this swamp and get washed out later.
In the next section, I will acknowledge you with some globally recognized services’ technology stack and how they empowered their product development.
Suppose you have hired mobile app developers for your project; in that case, even they can guide you with the best tech stack for mobile app development selection.
Starting with the very famous,
Programming languages: Java, Python, GO
Databases: MySQL, Redis, Hadoop, HBase
Databases: MySQL, Redis, Hadoop, Amazon
Server Side frameworks: Rails
Programming languages: Java, Python
Databases: Cassandra, PostgreSQL
Server Side frameworks: Django
Databases: MySQL, Redis, MongoDB, Riak
Now, let’s talk about some app-specific considerations while choosing a tech stack for your next project:
Specific industry-based applications come with various requirements. Say, for example, a video streaming application will need a tech stack that can store high-quality videos and show them pixel-perfect on screen. On the other hand, a banking application will need a tech stack that maintains the highest security level because crucial data is being shared.
Hence, I would advise, choose a development partner who serves you with the best guidance for your application. Ask them about various tech stack combinations and how it would affect your business. Inquire various aspects of technologies and then agree with one.
Consider the size of your project:
You must be wondering how does the project size affect your tech stack selection, isn’t it? The answer is quite simple, larger the project size; more is the complexity of the project. We will further classify the project size and mention what type of businesses fall under each category.
Digital magazines, Portfolios, and presentation projects are classified as small-sized projects.
Enterprise apps, single online stores, financial banking apps fall under the category of medium-sized businesses. In this category, you are required to introduce complex features, security, payment gateways, etc.
Projects like Instagram and Amazon eCommerce marketplace are considered to be large-sized projects. The handling of these projects is different; the features and functionality are different from a regular application.
You need to consider many functions, a combination of programming languages, technologies, and tools integration to effectively manage a large-sized project. The product requirement document (PRD) and the functional/non-functional requirements are also contemplated while selecting the tech stack for large-sized projects.
Since you will be launching your application for the first time, you are unaware of the expeditious growth. You may not have planned initially how your tech stack might handle the scalability. And therefore, it is essential to consider your business scalability while selecting a tech stack for your project. You can either choose Node.js or React and AWS as a server for ensuring the highest level of scalability.
I understand that you are in a race and want to be at the “top” spot at the earliest, but let me tell you; that there is no shortcut. The easiest & fastest way to launch your product is to launch with a Minimal Viable Product. Hence, while selecting the technology stack for website application development, make sure that it allows you to integrate third-party tools. Using third-party solutions speeds up the process of development and you are not required to reinvent the wheel.
Also, it should allow you to make instant changes ( if required) to the functionality of the application. Check whether there are developers available in the market for your selected tech stack. Ensure that the chosen tech stack has sufficient documentation and support from the developer community.
All these considerations have a significant impact on the application’s time-to-market. Hence it is advisable to check every aspect beforehand rather than directly initiate the process of development.
Today, irrespective of the industry you are trying to target, it has become important to save customer’s data from unwanted and unauthorised access. Governments have imposed strict rules for the technology industry to ensure cybersecurity.
The technology stack you select affects the security of the application. Today, every existing technology follows the security guidelines to avoid breaches; however, you should pick up the right tool to verify the same.
App development budget:
You need a team of developers who have prior experience with the tech stack you have finalized. But wait, did you consider the cost of hiring them in your final budget? Since you will invest a reasonable amount behind hiring developers, you will wish to have a bang for every buck. As mentioned above, a large-project may require you to add complexities and use more advanced technology to add to the cost of development.
There are many common mistakes that you are likely to make being a novice entrepreneur. I would like to highlight some common practices that you “should not” follow while selecting the technology stack for your project.
Practice 1: Do not make a decision based on your competitor’s experience:
You are the best judge for your project. Even if you have studied your competitors thoroughly, do not try to copy them. Your ultimate goal is to compete with them and not be in the same position as they are. Hence think of the technology stack selection that can make you stand out from the competition.
Practice 2: Do not rely only on online research:
This advice might look straight, but yes, you should not select your project’s tech stack based on the online research you have performed. Take your time, read books, consult your partner, and then come to a conclusion.
Practice 3: Never go for personal preferences:
I understand that coming from a technical background, you may feel biased about the programming language you love to code in or a database that you have worked on. But, never make the final decision based on your personal favorites.
Before we draw our conclusions, let us know what the available technology stack options for you are.
Tech stack for Native app development:
Suppose you are aiming at developing a robust application having high-quality performance. In that case, you should go for native app development. Native apps are designed specifically for the OS and give you a competitive edge.
It boasts about functionality integration and hence is a bit expensive to build. Native app development usually refers to building applications for Android and iOS. Let us have a glance at the tech stack of Android.
Android tech stack:
The programming language options available for building Android applications are Java and Kotlin.
Java is widely used for android app development across the globe. It is an open-source, object-oriented programming language offering rich libraries & tools for app development. Android developers are embracing the offerings of this programming language, and it is highly suitable to handle web, Big Data, and other complex projects.
Big Giants like Google, Facebook, and Yahoo are constantly in a quest to make this programming language effective and scalable.
Some other highlights of Java:
To develop applications with Java, you may need to get licenses to use platform development kits like SE and EE editions of Oracle.
Java can fit a wide range of use cases, small applications to large enterprise applications, mobile apps.
Java is preferred for projects with high server load.
Java has a high level of security and concurrency provided.
Java has a greater level of inbuilt support for dealing with security problems.
Java web applications are compiled to bytecode. Once that is done, the platform-independent code can run on multiple platforms.
To build enterprise applications, Java has very good frameworks for support. Some of the popular frameworks are Spring, Struts, Hibernate, JSF, Grails supported by large communities and companies.
Java EE provides flexible and loosely coupled frameworks built using MVC design patterns for both monolithic and distributed enterprise applications.
Kotlin is another popular programming language for Android app development. JetBrains launched it in 2011, and very soon, it became the secondary language for android development. It is clean, lightweight, and interoperable. A project developed on Java can be continued using Kotlin as a programming language. Kotlin is a powerful language participating vigorously in the race with Java.
Tool Kit: Android Developer Tools and Android Studio
Developers can easily download this Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and get started writing code with the utmost feasibility and flexibility. Android Studio is an exclusive IDE giving promising performance results to build Native Android applications.
You can also have access to all the Android Developer tools that will assist you in handling complexities of all sizes.
iOS Tech Stack:
The programming language options available for iOS app development are Swift and Objective-C.
The popular go-to language of iOS developers is Swift. Swift is an advanced programming language, developed by Apple Inc for all Apple devices, iOS, macOS, WatchOS, tvOS, and Linux. It is a highly functional language providing dynamic libraries and inline support.
This makes it easy for the mobile app developers to handle the data and text strings much easier. Swift is more preferred over Objective-C and used for large scale projects involving complexities.
Objective-C is an object-oriented programming language that is a superset of language C. Objective-C is famous for providing a dynamic runtime environment, but since Swift overrules the language, it looks like it will be used for iPhone app development only in the near future.
ToolKit: XCode and IntelliJ AppCode:
You can use XCode as an official IDE for native app development in iOS. It is a UI development tool that supports all the Apple devices, including iPhone, Mac, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV.
Tech Stack for Hybrid App Development:
The tech stack for Hybrid applications is Adobe PhoneGap, Apache Cordova, Sencha Touch2, and Iconic.
Tech Stack for Cross-platform App Development:
To win the competitive race in the app market, startups prefer going for cross-platform app development. It lets them target multiple platforms(Android, iOS and Web) at a time, sharing the same codebase across the platforms.
Let me tell you the tech stack options you have for cross-platform app development.
Now that you are well-versed with the Technology Stack concept in-depth, here are a few key takeaways that you can always refer to before selection of tech stack.
Focus on your business needs while making the final selection of tech stack;
Think from a long-term perspective and keep the future in mind;
Know the concepts in depth and consult your development partners;
Do not jump into complexities of the technology, start with simple;
Go for sustainable tech stack, pick up robust tech stack;
Ensure the scalability of tech stack;
Check for the availability of skill set;
Do not ignore your budget while selecting.
You need to know the Tech Stack concept as a whole because being unaware of the nitty-gritty requirements may land you up in a mess. I would advise that you should think a hundred times before you execute the idea of app development.
Keep the specifics in mind, define the solution, and lay the foundation before selecting the tech stack for a website or mobile app development.
We are ready to help you if you have any questions regarding your project. In the next article, we will take a step toward app development and discuss prototyping concepts. Stay connected with us for more information.