"Full Stack" has become the new job trend. Open LinkedIn, search the term and you will know it. Of course, there is the demand, but is it just for the title or the skills?
Today, the industry believes that full-stack developers make for the best technical hire for a company but the fact is that a genuinely good full stack developer is hard to find.
Practically anyone who knows the theory behind the aspects of web development call themselves a full-stack developer however, the true distinction lies between knowing the theory and mastering and deploying those skills in a project.
So what are those skills that a full-stack developer must possess? To answer this question, let us look at how a web application is developed.
Web application development is a combination of front-end and back-end development.
Front-end web development
- HTML is a mark-up language which provides the structure to a web page. It defines how a web page would look like so it can be considered the skeleton of any web application.
- CSS, on the other hand, is a style sheet language which provides the style and visual enhancements to the documents written in HTML.
Back-end web development, also known as server-side development, involves the development of computer programs and databases to serve the client. Today's sophisticated web applications cannot run without both the front-end and back-end services. Back-end technologies usually consist of programming languages such as PHP, Ruby, Python, Java, Node.js, and different frameworks.
Web application development encompasses all the web technologies related to the frontend and the back-end. In addition, a web application must ensure communication between the client and the server with the use of different communication protocols like HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol), TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/ Internet Protocol), FTP (File Transfer Protocol), etc.
The stacks you need to know
As one can see, a full stack developer needs to be familiar with all layers of the application. By layers of application, I mean the collection of various technologies needed to complete a project. There are three layers also known as stacks
- Logic layer – This is the back-end and involves development work that doesn't produce a user interface. The layer involves the core logic that makes everything work. Full-stack developers here must be fluent in programming languages such as Python, Ruby, Java, PHP, and.Net.
- Data layer – This layer is the sub-group of the logic layer and deals with how data is created, read, updated, and deleted. It requires the developer to be knowledgeable in using databases such as MySQL, SQL Server, PostgreSQL, and Oracle.
When it comes to end-to-end programming, they say that “You can’t have your cake and eat it too". Full stack developers are challenging this possibility. The breadth of their skills provides them with the ability to both have and eat the cake.
How can you become a Full Stack Developer?
When you get all the computer engineering and information technology books you can get your hands on and stack them up one upon other, you have your tower of full-stack. That is the volume of information we are dealing with here. And that is just the theory part. How do you start applying those concepts to a real-world application problem? Here are a few ways to get started on your journey towards being a full-stack developer.
- Choose a stack – Though nothing is enough, a few stacks are more popular than others. Choose a programming language based on how comfortable you are in both at the front and back end of the development. The LAMP stack was the traditional choice which comprised of (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP/ Perl/ Python) but now the MEAN stack (MongoDB, ExpressJS, AngularJS, NodeJS) is the more popular choice.
- Be on your toes - As I said, it is the skill in demand rather than just the job title, as technology and stacks keep changing, the truly important attribute in a full-stack developer is acquiring new skills to stay updated. Any complacency can lead to you become outdated and fast! For e.g. the LAMP is still reliable but is being replaced by the leaner MEAN stack. Be smart, know when it's time to move on and master new programming languages.
- Join a good course - While theoretical knowledge is not difficult to attain in this case what decides success is the exposure to application. Thus it is advisable to take up a good course that doesn’t just teach you the stuff but also makes you comfortable in learning newer technologies and adapting to the needs of the future. Thus making you future-proof. Make sure that you pick a course offered by a well-known brand that will cover most popular and in-demand technologies, preferably through project-based learning (Bootcamp) instead of just classroom teaching.