How to Choose a Tech Stack for Your Software Project
As a software provider with over 14 years of experience in the IT industry, we know that one of the biggest questions that most clients face is choosing the right technology stack for their project. There are many factors to consider, from project type to resource availability, and the selection process may take a significant amount of time. Leveraging our experience, we have assembled a list of recommendations that you can use when defining the technologies needed for your project. We hope our article will help you in future negotiations with the development team and will give you a clear image of what you might (or might not) need and why.
Understanding what technologies a specific project type requires
The first thing you need to define is the type of your product. This will impact the further choice of technologies since different app types require different tech stacks. We can define the following categories of software applications:
- Mobile (iOS and Android are the biggest players in the market);
- Web applications;
- Server applications;
- Embedded (think of IoT).
While each category will require a different development approach and a different tech stack, most software apps share the same set of components that they consist of. It’s important to keep them in mind as well since every component also requires specific technologies.
The main components of a software application
Whether you need to develop a mobile or a desktop application, most probably you’ll need to develop:
- Frontend: the part of the app that a user interacts with and that includes UX/UI. The most common technologies for front-end development are React, Vue.js, Angular.
- Backend: the server side of the app that is responsible for launching the processes and data storage. The most common backend technologies are .NET, Java, Python, Go.
- Database: the core of your app where all the data is stored and processed. Some of the most common options include Oracle, MS SQL Server, PostgreSQL, MySQL.
- Cloud: not obligatory but many projects require work in the cloud. We recommend either AWS or Azure.
Note that this is a very general list and the final choice of technologies will depend solely on your project. You might want to use containerization or you might decide to implement Machine Learning or IoT - the number of possible options is nearly endless and all of them impact the final choice of the tech stack.
Do not 100% trust buzzwords
The software development industry never stays in one place and every year there are dozens (if not hundreds) of new tech trends emerging. It’s easy to get confused with all the buzzwords that you may constantly hear from the Internet and from your network and this is where one of the biggest pitfalls hides.
Speaking from experience, the popularity of a certain technology rarely equals its correspondence to your project. We have worked with clients who approached us with a certain technology in mind simply because they heard it was trending. But after research and estimation, it often turned out that trendy technologies were not a good fit for the project and it was a better option to go with well-tried ones.
What we want to say here is do not fall for buzzwords and consider multiple options when choosing a tech stack. Sure, a trendy technology may work well but if you have a serious and long-term project in mind, we recommend going with trusted and secure ones just to make sure everything will work well and as intended.
Look at the availability of developers
When you choose a certain technology for your tech stack, one of the main things to check is the availability of software engineers. You need to check whether the community is big enough and whether you will be able to find enough skilled specialists to work on your project. The main issue with newly emerged technologies, for example, is that there are not enough experienced developers - which means, your project will either take too much time or will be too expensive.
Look at the maturity of technology
Check the maturity of technology: whether it offers enough functionality and whether it displays sufficient performance. As well, the more mature a technology is, the bigger community and support it offers. These factors become critical when working on long-term complex projects since you want to be 100% sure you’ll receive needed updates and support at any time.
Check for available ready solutions
It often happens that someone has already developed a project similar to yours and there are ready solutions available so you won’t have to develop certain features from scratch. Needless to say, this approach can save you a significant amount of time, finances, and resources.
Based on our own experience, chances are high that there is already a licensed or an open-source solution for a certain feature that you need so you can easily use it. An important thing to note here is that this ready solution should be written in the same language as your project so you can easily integrate this feature.
And if you need examples of ready solutions that can be reused, a login form is a very common one. Most login forms function the same way, so if you approach a software provider and request an application with a login form, you’ll most likely be offered a ready solution.
Keep security in mind
The more mature a technology is, the more secure it is due to regular updates and a big community that can quickly fix an issue or eliminate a detected vulnerability. On the contrary, young technologies may not have the needed level of security against possible threats and hence, their use may threaten the security of your application in general. This is especially important when choosing a tech stack for the backend part of the application since it stores and processes all the data, including sensitive information (and we don’t need to remind you how fatal data leaks may become).
Consider the synergy and compatibility of technologies
Peanut butter and jelly, Vans and skateboarding, .NET and SQL - you got the idea. There are many pairs of tools that work perfectly well together so if you choose a certain technology, check its compatibility with other tools (i.e. Java and Oracle) for better performance and faster development.
Estimate optimization of costs and your budget
When you start a software project, you normally have a predefined budget that you use as a base to make choices on tech stack, team composition, etc. Hence, when choosing technologies for your application, consider the long-term costs and the possible options for optimizing them. Remember we talked about using ready solutions instead of creating ones from scratch? That’s just one example of how you can optimize costs related to the tech stack.
General tips and best practices
Above, we listed the main things to consider when choosing technologies for the project. So to wrap things up, here is a short list of general best practices and tips that are too specific to be discussed separately but too important to ignore:
- Let your project architect make a choice of the database since there are too many specific factors to consider;
- Remember that there are four main types of databases and each type is designed for a certain task (i.e. Vertica NoSQL is designed for reporting);
- Approach cloud technologies carefully since there are many hidden rocks (i.e. price, load, compatibility with other technologies, performance);
- If you need containerization, Kubernetes is great - but it’s too cumbersome and complex so we advise it for larger-scale projects;
- If you have a mobile app in mind, dedicate some time to decide whether you want to go with native or cross-platform development.
And one more final piece of advice: always choose the tech stack together with the development team. Since your software provider most likely has faced similar projects in the past, it will be easier for him to evaluate your idea and offer the best and most efficient solution that would satisfy your requirements and facilitate the development process.
Alex ZubelView all articles by this author.