What is a tech stack? (Plus importance, types and examples)
Updated 28 March 2023
A tech stack is a set of technologies that developers use to build a product. It's the foundation of any mobile apps, websites, standalone desktop software and other technology projects. Understanding what a tech stack is, how to use it and what type of tech stacks are available could help you manage a software project more effectively at work. In this article, we explore the answer to 'What is a tech stack?' and look at what types of tech stacks exist, how developers use them and consider examples of different types of tech stacks.
What is a tech stack?
To find the answer to 'What is a tech stack?', it's essential to understand its purpose. A tech stack is a set of technologies that developers and project managers stock together to build an application or module. They're the most convenient option for building easy-to-maintain and scalable applications because each individual element of the stack is possible to modify. A tech stack includes different technologies that manage both the frontend and the backend of the application. Some of the components present in a tech stack include:
user interfaces, made with languages like HTML and CSS
programming languages, such as Python, Ruby, PHP or Java
frameworks, including Express, Spring and Django
runtime environment, including Node.js and JRE
servers, which include Apache and Nginx
databases, such as MongoDB and MySQL
Most tech stacks combine frontend and backend technologies to create a functional and easy-to-use application that fulfils its objective. The technology stack you use for a particular project determines the scope of the application you build and the level of customisation you can attain. Different combinations of technologies or different tech stacks, result in the creation of different applications that meet a variety of goals. Creating the right tech stack impacts the success of your project before development even begins.
What are the different types of tech stacks?
Each of these models comprises a set of components designed for use in particular types of applications. To save time and money, developers work with a particular tech stack model rather than building their own custom tech stack. Some common tech stack models include:
LAMP is an industry-standard tech stack model. Web developers use it because it offers cost efficiency, flexibility and performance. LAMP is an acronym that's short for Linux (operating system), Apache (HTTP server), MySQL (database management) and PHP (programming language). LAMP is a tech stack that uses open-source technologies, making it easily accessible to developers working in a range of settings.
ASP.NET is a tech stack model that works on the basis of Microsoft's .NET core to create lightweight applications to run on Windows and Linux. This model also uses many open source technologies and offers a lot of flexibility to developers. The typical ASP.NET tech stack includes the ASP.NET MVC framework, IIS web server, the SQL server database and Microsoft Azure.
Ruby on Rails
Why is it important to use a tech stack?
Choosing the right tech stack for your application or software build improves efficiency and makes it easier to build a working application quickly. Good tech stacks create applications that are usable by a wide audience and they help developers to create scalable applications by simplifying the choice of frameworks and databases and encouraging developers to think carefully about these backend components before development begins. A proper tech stack speeds up the development process because it enables tech teams to hire full-stack developers who specialise in the technologies they're employing.
Planning a tech stack before you start a development project makes it easier to predict exactly what resources, automation, hardware and skills your team requires before commencing work. It also means project managers focus their attention from the beginning of the project on those technologies that are relevant to the development of the application. This streamlines the development process and makes tech teams less likely to waste time and resources on technologies that aren't important to the project.
What to consider when building a tech stack
If you're building a tech stack to develop a particular application, consider the objective of your project and other relevant constraints and requirements. Choosing the right technologies for your tech stack could have a significant impact on the success of your final build. Some factors to consider when building a tech stack include:
The purpose of the application: What is the purpose of the application you're building and what kind of technology is suitable for this purpose? Choose technologies that match the needs of your project to keep development simple but efficient.
User experience: Choose technologies that support an easy-to-navigate user interface and make it easy for your users to carry out their objectives.
Time to production: If you intend to release your application as soon as possible, look for technologies with strong community support and lots of suggested solutions to common problems to reduce the time your team spends getting your application to market. Technologies that are easy-to-use benefit development teams with less experience.
Cost: Consider free, open-source technologies if you want to keep your development budget low and look for technologies that integrate well with each other. Specialised technologies cost more but don't necessarily add value.
Scalability: Creating an application that's scalable offers the most value to your users, so look for technologies like modern NoSQL databases that offer scaling options, especially if the project you're working on is data-intensive.
Security: Choose technologies that follow security best practices to maximise data security and minimise the risk of security breaches in your application. Your tech stack naturally guides the progress of your development towards your goals and objectives.
Technology stack examples
To illustrate how technology stacks may help development teams streamline the development process and create effective applications, it's helpful to understand how different types of tech stacks are suitable for different kinds of applications. Some examples of different types of technology stacks and their common uses are below:
Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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