The Definitive Guide to the Most Essential JS Full-Stack Tools
Despite all the “quick tips to fantastic development” articles around, software is hard.
All software products have two ‘stacks’ – a client-side and server-side, and it is almost impossible to create a full-fledged application using only one of these technologies. As a result, building functional applications involves tools and languages for the front-end, backend, database management, and sometimes server management – which come together to form a full-stack. Some well-known stacks include:
- LAMP: Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP
- MEAN: MongoDB, Express, AngularJS, Node.JS
- Ruby on Rails: Ruby, SQLite, PHP
- Django: Python, Django, MySQL.
And that is what is happening today. Both individual developers and development teams of Groupon, Airbnb, Netflix, Medium, PayPal, and more are shifting from traditional stacks to modern, JS-based stacks – and that is what we’ll be focusing on today!
So, without further ado, let’s dive deep into the essential toolkit for a JS full-stack developer.
Front-end is what your browser renders and what your customers see.
It is what you see in front of you – – the layout and structure of the screens (UI) and the way they are connected(UX) – that which is far more than the color of the button or the hover effect on the hyperlink.
However, to take your game up a notch, you can explore some frameworks and libraries and spice things up. These frameworks are essentially used to help you speed things up while building a responsive and functional front-end. There are some CSS frameworks that you can definitely explore to simplify your front-end-dev process because these frameworks have modules defined that can be easily picked and used. A couple of such frameworks, which we definitely recommend exploring, include:
Above that, to complement your beautifully designed website with user-friendly functionalities and dynamism, you can consider exploring at least one of the below-listed JS libraries and frameworks thoroughly:
Backend development is what handles the behind-the-scenes activities of web applications. Using backend tools and technologies, you can establish a connection from your front-end to the database and display the data on-screen. To put it simply, a backend is what differentiates a website from a web app.
Once you have explored the fundamentals of Node, you should definitely consider learning ExpressJS – a lightweight routing and middleware framework built upon Node. This combo is sufficient to be a skilled developer, however, you may consider learning other frameworks and technologies based on your specific needs. Here are a few other that are built on Node:
Are we there yet?
If you’ve covered the technologies we’ve discussed so far, you’ve made it enough to be called a full-stack developer, but the journey isn’t over yet.
Next, there are hybrid and cross-platform app development that you can explore further.
Without further ado, here’s a list of such technologies:
Are Frameworks all I Need to Know About?
Yes and no.
Yes, because frameworks allow you to do a lot of crazy cool stuff quickly. And without a doubt, by having an in-depth knowledge of front-end and backend tools, you’re on your way to being called a full-stack developer. So, in a crude sense, frameworks are all you need to make stuff.
But, there’s another, often overlooked aspect of being a developer – which is basically making the lives of you and people working with you easier. We’re talking about a set of tools that can potentially save you hours of hair-pulling and frustration, especially when coding for software that runs enterprises and not just your personal projects.
Some such tools include:
Version Control has always been synonymous with Git and GitHub. And without a doubt, you should be comfortable with working on these tools. However, other options, too, exist, including:
While frequently overlooked by novices, package managers help you install and manage the various libraries and packages that your project might need. Many of you may already know NPM — the famous Node Package Manager. However, again, other options exist.
Yarn is a package manager that is quickly gaining traction because of its speed and a few other advantages over NPM.
Bower is yet another package manager for the web.
You can explore other options and find the package manager that suits you the most!
A detailed list here might be overkill, especially if you’re just starting out – so here’s a quick list of tools that you will eventually have to get familiar with:
- Webpack — a bundler for your applications that has gained a lot of popularity in recent times
One final topic to explore is getting your applications online. Here are some of the popular server-as-a-service options that you will want to use in order to get your app out in the open:
That was a lot of information, wasn’t it? Take your time and gradually get familiar with the tools and frameworks you like – there are no perfect solutions, but some might be far better suited to your style of development. If you’re looking to explore some other fantastic resources for full-stack development, here’s a comprehensive list: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1UZVX1GLBsD3R3W9ZpgWpIDg3grLm1z62kuj_syNPZpM/edit?ts=5e6f2b60