If you enjoy working on a project from beginning to end, you might enjoy a career as a full-stack web developer. Like back-end developers, full-stack programmers know which stack technologies are best for web applications. They also know how to build a user interface for a quality user experience. Because of their versatility, full-stack web developers represent a cost-savings for organizations. Instead of recruiting a front- and back-end web developer, companies can employ a single full-stack web developer. To be successful, a full-stack web developer knows web technologies from end-to-end.

Web Stacks

Web applications operate in different environments based on system requirements. Some websites must be lightning fast, while others have a high demand for video content. That means, deciding on the right programming language, the operating environment, and the data storage method is crucial. This collection of web-building tools is called a web stack. It runs everything from the front-end to the back-end of a website.

Companies such as Facebook, Uber, and Pinterest create their own web stacks. For most companies, full-stack developers choose from standard bundles such as LAMP, MEAN, or RoR. Each stack consists of a programming language, database, framework, and web server.

LAMP

The LAMP stack is recognized for its flexibility and operational efficiency. Because it is open-source, it reduces infrastructure costs without loss of performance. It is an industry-standard and is made up of the following four components.

  • Linux
  • Apache
  • MySQL
  • PHP

LAMP has been around for years, and many consider it old-school. However, it continues to be a reliable stack.

MEAN

MEAN uses JavaScript as a single language throughout the stack. That is one reason why it is the most popular web stack bundle. Developers do not have to learn multiple languages to use frameworks or web servers. It is considered a fast and robust stack that uses only open-source components.

  • MongoDB
  • Express.js
  • AngularJS
  • NodeJS

All parts of the stack use JavaScript, which makes communication among developers easier and enables data to flow smoothly among components.

RoR

Ruby on Rails is a web framework that comes with the following components:

  • Ruby
  • Rails framework
  • WEBrick web server

RoR does not come with a specific database, so it must be installed separately. However, it does support databases such as Oracle, SQL, and MySQL, so it is a matter of selecting the best database for the application. Most developers replace the web server that comes with Rails, opting for Apache or Nginx.

Because these are the top three technology stacks in use, full-stack developers should be familiar with the pros and cons of each stack as well as how to use the various components.

Web Development Languages

Front-end developers use a different set of languages from back-end programmers. As with web stacks, the language depends on what the website needs to do. HTML, CSS (technically not a language), and JavaScript are the standard languages for front-end development. Back-end development relies on JAVA, Python, and PHP. SQL is the most common database-interfacing language. If you plan to use RoR, then Ruby should be added to the list.

Web Servers

Web servers are software that is used to accept requests using web-based protocols. The following are the most used web servers:

  • Apache Web Server
  • IIS Web Server
  • Nginx Web Server
  • LiteSpeed Web Server

Other web servers include Apache Tomcat, Node.js, and Lighttpd. Full-stack web developers should know how to set up and configure web server software.

Databases

Databases for web applications include well-known solutions such as Oracle, MySQL, and SQL server, but not all databases are relational. MongoDB is a non-relational database that is used for storing large sets of data.  Accessing a database in real-time can limit performance, so many websites implement some form of caching. Caching buffers data by storing frequently-accessed data in temporary memory, which reduces the workload for databases. There are different types of caching that a full-stack developer should know, such as cache aside, write-through, and read-through.

Frameworks

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Web frameworks are tools that allow faster development of web applications. They contain constructs that make it easier to build websites. Different environments require different frameworks. Frameworks are available for both front-end and back-end development. Here are a few of the more popular frameworks for back-end development:

  • Express for node.js
  • Django for Python
  • Spring for Java
  • Laravel for PHP
  • Rails for Ruby

Front end frameworks include:

  • Angular
  • React
  • Vue

All frameworks are JavaScript-based.

Design Skills

A full-stack web developer knows how to design the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) of a website. Fundamentals such as navigation, page layout, and content are a starting point for the design. However, a developer needs to understand the intuitiveness of web usage as well as the accessibility of information. Tools such as wireframing and prototyping can help communicate design and experience concepts, but the key to quality designs is research. Developers need to look at other websites, subscribe to blogs and follow top designers to stay on trend for web designs.

Tools

Full-stack web developers should be familiar with a range of tools to improve the quality and increase the time to deliver web applications. Development tools include:

  • Testing. Sifting through all the available test tools can turn into a full-time job. Selenium is the most used automated test tool.  Test tools that help with debugging code reduces the number of software applications a developer needs to learn.
  • Version control. Every developer needs a version control system that tracks changes over time. Version control software requires developers to check files out and in of the control system, usually with comments to explain changes.
  • API. APIs allow interaction between software applications using defined protocols. APIs make it possible for web applications to share data with other programs such as PayPal.

Knowing the right tool for the job makes development more accurate and efficient.

Full Stack Developer From Scratch

Becoming a full-stack web developer takes time. Time to learn the technologies and time to gain experience. Once you have the necessary skills and experience, you can start getting recognition for your new skills. If you are looking to become a web developer from scratch, explore the development programs powered by Woz U. Let Woz U help you gain the skills to put you on a path to a promotion or raise.

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