It’s little wonder that many businesses choose to build web-based applications — besides being fairly cost-effective and more accessible than mobile apps, they are easier to maintain and scale.
It is natural that decision-makers tend to focus on less difficult areas like UI/UX design, their product’s pricing model, and marketing strategy. However, there’s another crucial component behind your product success — web application technology stack.
The tech stack for web app development defines how stable, secure, and maintainable the future product will be. Moreover, the right tech stack is responsible for the app’s ability to meet your business goals and address your target audience’s needs.
At TechWings, we have years of experience developing profitable web applications. We realize that having at least a general understanding of web app development technologies is important for a client, and that is why we’ve prepared this guide.
Read on to find out the fundamentals of web app development and explore the best web app development tools and technologies for your projects.
Selecting a tech stack for web app development: factors to consider
So, how to choose the right tech stack for web app development? Let’s face it: you can’t simply pick web app development technologies like, let’s say, colors or fonts for your products. The choice of technology stack for web application requires careful consideration and depends on multiple factors, such as:
The size and complexity of the project
Expected speed and performance
Expected flexibility and scalability of the product
Load time requirements
Integration with other solutions
Technology stack for web application development: the core components
Every web application consists of two core components: frontend and backend.
The frontend is the visual side of the app — in other words, everything consumers see and interact with while using the product.
Meanwhile, backend components store data, handle requests, and deliver the information users see in the app. These include servers, databases, and application logic running behind the visible part of the product.
In addition, databases play a crucial role in web app development. They ensure that all the data, including the code, user data, etc., are securely stored in one place.
Choosing the best tech stack for your web app: technologies to use in 2023
Now that you’re familiar with the basics of the technology stack for web app development, let’s dive deeper and explore the best web app development tools and technologies used today, analyzing their pros and cons.
Frontend developers are responsible for ensuring that a website or web application is visually appealing, responsive, and user-friendly, with a focus on delivering a seamless and engaging user experience. They work in close collaboration with backend developers who handle server-side logic and data management, and together, they form the backbone of a well-rounded web development team.
Component reusability: React promotes modular development through reusable components. This reduces development time, ensures consistency across the app, and simplifies maintenance.
Virtual DOM efficiency: React’s virtual Document Object Model (DOM) minimizes direct manipulation of the actual DOM, resulting in improved rendering performance and a smoother user experience.
One-way data binding: React enforces a one-way data flow, which helps prevent unexpected changes in the UI and makes it easier to track and manage data changes.
Large community and ecosystem: React has a vast and active community, providing access to numerous libraries, tools, and resources that can accelerate development and problem-solving.
Boilerplate code: React applications might require additional setup and boilerplate code for features like routing or state management, which can be time-consuming.
SEO challenges for SPAs: Single page applications built with React may face challenges with SEO due to search engines struggling to index dynamically loaded content.
Compatibility issues: Integrating React into an existing codebase could require adjustments and potential refactoring, which can slow down development.
Angular is an open-source web application framework that enables developers to build dynamic SPAs and large-scale web apps with a structured and modular approach. Angular employs declarative templates, dependency injection, and a component-based architecture to simplify the development process and enhance code maintainability.
Modular architecture: Angular’s modular architecture promotes component-based development, allowing teams to create, reuse, and maintain UI components more efficiently.
Dependency injection: Angular’s dependency injection system streamlines managing application components, services, and dependencies, resulting in more maintainable and testable code.
Two-way data binding: Angular supports two-way data binding, simplifying the synchronization of data between the UI and application logic and reducing the need for manual updates.
CLI tool for better productivity: Angular’s Command Line Interface (CLI) provides powerful tools for creating, building, testing, and deploying applications that boost development productivity.
Rich ecosystem: The platform offers an extensive ecosystem of libraries, modules, and tools developed by the Angular team and the community, which can significantly accelerate development through the use of pre-built solutions.
Boilerplate code: Angular applications might require more boilerplate code compared to other frameworks, which can increase development time.
Performance considerations: Excessive use of two-way data binding or unnecessary component rendering can lead to performance bottlenecks.
SEO challenges for SPAs: Similar to other frontend technologies, Angular-built SPAs might encounter SEO challenges due to search engine indexing issues.
Progressive framework: This framework is designed to be incrementally adoptable, allowing businesses to integrate it into existing projects.
Reactivity and two-way data binding: Vue’s reactivity system facilitates automatic updates to the UI when data changes, making it simpler to maintain synchronization between the data model and the UI.
Component-based architecture: Vue’s component-based approach to building UIs allows developers to create reusable and modular components that enhance code organization and maintainability.
Vue CLI and DevTools: The framework comes with a Command-Line Interface (CLI) that streamlines project setup, development, and deployment. The Vue DevTools extension streamlines debugging and inspection of Vue applications.
Smaller ecosystem: Unlike React and Angular, Vue has a smaller ecosystem and fewer pre-built solutions, which might require more custom development.
SEO challenges for SPAs: As with other frontend technologies for web app development, Vue is associated with some challenges concerning SEO.
Limited official documentation: Although Vue has good documentation, it is not as extensive compared to larger frameworks, which can be challenging for less experienced developers.
Backend development in web development refers to the construction of the server-side of a website or web application. This hidden, behind-the-scenes part of the software is responsible for managing data, handling user requests, and performing server-side logic.
Backend developers work with databases, server-side programming languages, and frameworks to ensure the functionality and performance of the web application. They are responsible for tasks like data storage, retrieval, and processing, as well as handling user authentication and authorization.
In essence, the backend is the engine that powers the frontend, making sure that everything works smoothly and securely behind the scenes, while also facilitating communication with the frontend to provide users with a seamless and interactive web experience.
Scalability: Node.js’ non-blocking, event-driven architecture is perfect for building real-time apps that call for high concurrency, making it suitable for solutions with heavy traffic and frequent interactions.
Fast execution: This tool’s asynchronous nature enables efficient I/O operations, resulting in faster response times and improved application performance.
Rich package ecosystem: Node.js has a vast library of open-source packages available through npm, which accelerates development by providing ready-made solutions for common functionalities.
Single-threaded nature: Node.js operates on a single thread, which can lead to performance bottlenecks when handling CPU-intensive tasks. This can impact the responsiveness of your application, especially if it’s handling a large number of concurrent requests.
Callback hell: Despite being beneficial for handling multiple requests simultaneously, the asynchronous nature of Node.js can lead to complex and hard-to-manage code structures, commonly known as “callback hell.” Managing multiple callbacks can result in code that is difficult to read, debug, and maintain.
Limited support for CPU-intensive tasks: Node.js is better suited for I/O-bound operations rather than CPU-bound tasks, such as complex calculations, encryption and decryption, audio/video/image processing, etc., due to its single-threaded architecture. Performing intensive computation tasks can block the event loop and slow down the application’s responsiveness.
Python is a modern backend programming language known for its readability, simplicity, and extensive libraries. While not a dedicated backend framework, Python is often used for backend development in combination with various frameworks and tools.
Readability and expressiveness: Python’s clear and concise syntax enhances code readability, making it easier to understand and maintain. This results in faster development and reduced error rates.
Wide range of libraries and frameworks: Python boasts a rich ecosystem of libraries and frameworks, enabling developers to choose the most suitable tools for their projects.
Thriving community: Python’s large and active community provides access to a wealth of resources, documentation, and third-party packages that can help foster development and problem-solving.
Productivity and rapid prototyping: Its ease of use and high-level abstractions allow for rapid prototyping and quick iteration.
Global Interpreter Lock: Python’s Global Interpreter Lock (GIL) can limit the ability to achieve true parallelism in multi-threaded applications, potentially affecting performance.
Limited real-time capabilities: The traditional request-response model might not be the best fit for applications that require real-time communication and updates.
PHP is an old-fashioned open-source scripting language specifically designed for web development.
Web-centric focus: This language is tailor-made for web development, making it well-suited for building web applications.
Vast community: PHP’s large community offers extensive documentation, tutorials, and plugins that streamline development and problem-solving.
Integration with databases: PHP boasts strong integration with databases like MySQL, making it a suitable choice for applications that require robust database-driven functionalities.
Lack of advanced features: While PHP has evolved, it does not offer some of the more advanced features and modern development practices found in newer technologies.
Security considerations: PHP’s history of security vulnerabilities may lead to concerns, although modern PHP versions have addressed many of these issues.
Lack of built-in modularity: Unlike some other modern frameworks, PHP might lack a clear and standardized way to manage modularity and component reusability.
ASP.NET Core is an open-source framework developed for building web applications. It serves as the backend technology for creating server-side logic, handling data processing, and managing application infrastructure.
High performance: ASP.NET Core is optimized for performance, with features like a high-performance HTTP pipeline, asynchronous programming support, and efficient memory usage.
Modular architecture: ASP.NET Core follows a modular architecture, which translates into lightweight and efficient applications.
Built-in dependency injection: ASP.NET Core comes with a built-in dependency injection container, facilitating the management of application dependencies and promoting more maintainable and testable code.
Security and identity features: The framework provides built-in security features and supports various authentication and authorization mechanisms. It also integrates seamlessly with Azure Active Directory for identity management.
Limited third-party libraries: While the ecosystem for ASP.NET Core is growing, it might have fewer third-party libraries and extensions compared to more mature technologies.
Smaller community: The ASP.NET Core community is smaller than some other backend technologies, which means potentially fewer resources and community-driven solutions.
Irrelevant for simple projects: ASP.NET Core may be overkill for simpler projects, as its feature-rich nature could introduce unnecessary complexity and development overhead.
Django is an open-source Python framework designed for rapid development of secure and maintainable web applications. It follows the “batteries-included” philosophy, providing a comprehensive set of tools, libraries, and features that let developers build complex and feature-rich applications efficiently. Django focuses on promoting best practices, code reusability, and a clean architecture.
Rapid development with the DRY Principle: Django’s “Don't Repeat Yourself” (DRY) principle emphasizes code reusability and consistency, which accelerates development by minimizing redundant code and promoting efficient collaboration within the team.
Admin interface: Django provides a powerful admin interface out of the box, allowing businesses to quickly set up a customizable administrative backend for managing application data and content.
Security features: The framework includes built-in security features such as cross-site scripting (XSS), cross-site request forgery (CSRF), and SQL injection.
Built-in authentication and authorization: Django provides robust authentication and authorization mechanisms, simplifying user management, permissions, and access control for applications.
Not suitable for small projects: Django’s comprehensive features might be too much for small projects, leading to a larger initial codebase and potential performance overhead.
Opinionated architecture: The framework’s opinionated structure might limit flexibility in certain cases where its decisions conflict with specific project requirements.
Limited real-time capabilities: Django’s traditional request-response model might not be as well-suited for real-time features compared to technologies designed specifically for real-time communication.
Flask is a lightweight Python web framework designed to be simple, flexible, and minimalistic. It provides the essentials for building web applications without imposing rigid structures or dependencies.
Micro framework philosophy: Flask’s “micro” approach makes it well-suited for smaller projects, prototypes, and applications where a full-stack framework might be excessive.
Modular architecture: The framework’s modular design lets developers pick and choose libraries for various tasks like database integration, authentication, and testing, optimizing the application for specific needs.
Jinja2 templating: Flask uses the Jinja2 templating engine, which provides powerful templating capabilities for dynamic content generation while maintaining separation between code and presentation.
Easy integration with third-party libraries: Flask’s compatibility with various Python libraries and extensions enables developers to easily extend an app’s functionality.
Limited out-of-the-box functionality: Compared to larger frameworks, Flask provides fewer built-in features for common tasks like user authentication, database migrations, and form handling.
Scalability considerations: While Flask can be used to build scalable applications, it might require more manual configuration and planning as the application grows.
Advanced configuration complexity: Flask’s configuration system is flexible, but advanced configurations or complex setups might involve more manual work compared to more opinionated frameworks.
Databases in web development are central repositories for storing and managing data critical to web applications. Backend developers are responsible for creating and managing these databases, ensuring efficient data storage, retrieval, and security.
There are various database types and query languages to structure and optimize data, facilitating seamless interaction with the frontend and reliable web application performance. Databases are the backbone that stores and delivers the information necessary for web applications to function effectively.
MySQL is an open-source relational database management system (RDBMS) known for its speed, reliability, and ease of use.
High performance: MySQL is optimized for speed and can handle large amounts of data with quick response times.
Active community: MySQL has a large and active user community, offering a wealth of resources and support.
Replication and clustering: The system supports replication and clustering for high availability and fault tolerance.
Limited support for complex queries: MySQL might struggle with complex queries compared to some other databases.
Transaction locking: While it supports transactions, the locking mechanism can sometimes affect performance.
MariaDB is a fork of MySQL, created by the original developers after some concerns about the acquisition of MySQL by Oracle.
Performance improvements: MariaDB offers enhancements and optimizations beyond MySQL’s capabilities.
Storage engines: MariaDB supports various storage engines, including its default Aria engine, which can be advantageous for specific use cases.
Smaller ecosystem: MariaDB’s ecosystem might be smaller than MySQL’s, leading to potentially fewer third-party tools and resources.
Compatibility concerns: Although it is designed as a MySQL replacement, there could be subtle compatibility issues in certain cases.
MS SQL Server
Microsoft SQL Server is a relational database management system commonly used in enterprise environments for large-scale data storage and management.
Seamless Windows integration: MS SQL Server seamlessly integrates with other Microsoft products and technologies.
Robust security features: The system provides strong security features and integration with Windows Active Directory for authentication.
Business intelligence: MS SQL Server offers powerful tools for business intelligence and reporting.
Cost: Licensing and usage fees can be higher compared to open-source databases.
Limited cross-platform support: While there’s a version for Linux, MS SQL Server’s full capabilities are often associated with Windows environments.
PostgreSQL is a robust open-source relational database system known for its extensibility, SQL compliance, and support for advanced data types.
Advanced data types: PostgreSQL supports custom data types, allowing you to define their data structures.
Extensibility: The system supports user-defined functions and languages, enabling the creation of custom features.
Concurrency control: PostgreSQL’s Multi-Version Concurrency Control (MVCC) helps manage concurrent access to data.
Resource-intensive: Depending on configuration, PostgreSQL can be more resource-intensive compared to simpler databases.
MongoDB is an open-source NoSQL database known for its flexible document-oriented storage and schema-less design.
Flexible schema: MongoDB’s schema-less design allows for easy changes and adaptation to evolving data needs.
Document-oriented: The database stores data in JSON-like documents, which can map directly to application objects.
Horizontal scalability: MongoDB excels at horizontal scaling, making it suitable for applications with rapidly growing data.
Lack of ACID transactions: MongoDB’s design sacrifices some traditional ACID transaction guarantees for performance.
Complexity of queries: Complex queries can sometimes be more challenging to write and optimize compared to traditional SQL databases.
Let’s choose the best technology stack for web application development together
Selecting a technology stack for web application development calls for a deep analysis of your business goals and project requirements. If you need expert assistance with determining the best web app technology stack for your project, get in touch with us.
At TechWings, we’ve delivered on numerous successful web app development projects. We have experts in an extensive web app technology stack to meet our clients’ unique goals and needs.