The term “stack” refers to a collection of programming languages, software and tools that work together to create a digital end product or solution, like websites, applications or even programs that are incorporated by a larger technology platform.
In Web development, three common skill sets — front-end, back-end and full-stack — are used to describe the role of software developers as they craft an end product. More and more tech professionals are choosing to work with both front-end and back-end stacks to increase their versatility and broaden their skill sets, becoming full-stack developers.
This type of software development involves all the parts of a website that a user can see and interact with. In designing a site, the goal of front-end developers is to make sure that the format is easy to read and navigate.
Three core languages make up front-end development:
- HTML, the structure of a Web page that holds content such as text and media
- CSS, the styling of HTML elements that brings forth the design of a website
Back-end development focuses on servers, applications and databases. Developers build and maintain the technology that powers those three components using a multitude of programming languages, libraries and other existing software. For complex websites that require features outside of front-end capabilities, back-end development is a necessity.
Back-end development can include programming languages such as Java and .NET as well as databases and other robust platforms like MySQL and Amazon AWS. In essence, back-end development strives to create a dynamic end product that requires a server and database to send the right information at the right time.
While in the past developers have been split between front-end (Web design) and back-end (Web development), it has become more common for programmers to straddle the fence between the two competencies.
Solution and Software Stacks
A solution stack is a group of essential software that works together so often it is referred to by a name that represents the whole rather than each separate component. Typically, this name is an acronym that refers to each individual piece of the stack. These subcomponents are usually unrelated, but work in tandem to provide one fully functioning software solution.
Common solution stacks include:
MySQL or MariaDB
Perl, PHP, or Python
Microsoft SQL Server
MySQL or MariaDB
PHP and Perl
Websites are made up of many different technologies, which can often change based on both needs and natural evolution. When developers are looking to enhance a website with new features or even reduce tech components to something more efficient, they may look past the standard solution stacks into something customized to suit their specific needs.
Developers can craft websites and applications using a nearly infinite combination of technologies, ranging from programming languages, databases, utilities, business tools and much more. Some websites might have a small range of only three to five core technologies, while others may need 15 or more. In short, technology stacks are dependent on the end product’s goals.
Stack Overflow, a popular question-and-answer site for programmers, lists the various languages and technologies utilized to create and run the website. Stack Overflow’s core programming stack consists of C#/.NET along with other tools to support .NET development. But LinkedIn, the social network for business professionals, is written primarily in Java. Both websites use additional technologies outside of programming languages.
Build Your Own Technology Stack Infographic
You can learn more about the world of stacks in our infographic below. For an interactive version,
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Start Building Your Own Stack
Interested in learning the in-demand skills required to become a developer? The Software Guild’s coding bootcamps help apprentices like you gain experience building full-stack applications from start to finish using .NET/C# or Java. Located in Minneapolis, we provide an intensive learning environment to teach you the hands-on skills required to begin a successful development career.
If you are ready to learn more, check out our guide to The Software Guild for an in-depth look at the curriculum, format, application process and everything else you need to know.