Becoming a Full-Stack Developer in 2020

Who exactly is a full-stack developer?

Simply put, a full-stack developer is an engineer who can maneuver all phases of the development cycle of an application or a website. They are, in fact, adept in working with servers, systems engineering, and host configurations, able to perform database integrations, and create data-driven websites. However, being a full-stack developer isn’t just about familiarity but more of an intuitive understanding of the best practices around front-end and back-end domains.

Why become a full-stack developer?

If you are aspiring to fast-track your career in the industry, this is one great way to go about it. Recent trends demonstrate a rising demand for multi-faceted professionals who understand the complete workflow of a project. With a wider viewpoint and more sensitivity to cutting-edge techniques, a full-stack developer is a priceless asset to any team. You not only contribute to multiple phases of a project but also reduce the time and technical costs that go into technology docking and team coordination.

Now, the bigger question is, what does one have to know in order to become a full-stack developer in this day and age? Let’s dive straight in…

The Basic Programming Languages: JavaScript, Python

First things first, functional knowledge of JavaScript and Python are necessary to lay a solid groundwork. JavaScript is a fairly easy language to learn and therefore great for beginners. Supported by all modern web browsers, it is used in both Frontend and Backend development.

Whether handling server-side languages such as PHP, Python, or ASP.net or JavaScript frameworks like Angular, React, Vue, and Node.js (not a framework, but a library), you should be familiar with the fundamentals of JavaScript. According to Stack Overflow’s Developer Survey 2020, JavaScript has maintained its stronghold as the most commonly used programming language for the 8th year in a row.

Since most organizations are driven by data, Python is a handy add-on to your arsenal. The fastest-growing programming language is utilized to build sustainable apps, web services, or games, automate a recurring task, pull off complex calculations, and even gather insights from a set of data.

Source: Stack Overflow

Git and GitHub

Git is the most popular version control system that enables you to track changes made to a codebase. GitHub on the other hand is a centralized, cloud-based hosting service for you to save and manage Git repositories.

Knowledge of Git and GitHub makes life much easier for developers across experience levels or domains. You can collaborate with other team members and work on the same file at the same time without disrupting each other’s progress or breaking anything.

With GitHub in your know-how, you get to interact with other developers on Open Source projects, learn from them, and even suggest code changes.

Get handy with Git & GitHub

For basics: Learning Resources for Git
For extensive learning: Git Complete: The definitive, step-by-step guide to Git

Frontend Development Tools

HTML & CSS

Once you’re well-oriented with JavaScript, your next targets are the pillars of Frontend development, no matter what framework or backend language you are using — HTML and CSS. HTML lets you frame the basic structure of web content, which can be enhanced and modified by CSS and JavaScript. If HTML is the canvas, consider CSS as the paint that styles the UI with colors, fonts, and background elements.

If you love designing and do not want to depend solely on a CSS framework, you can always create custom CSS components to use and re-use in your projects. In such cases, you do not need to import the complete library. Instead, you create a particular component required for a user interface.

Frameworks/UI Libraries

Frameworks allow you to achieve a more organized UI and encourage clean coding. In order to execute Fronted development in a more advanced fashion, it is essential for you to become an expert in at least one of these:

React: An open-source JavaScript library, React is used for building single-page or mobile application UI. However, React is only functional in rendering data to the DOM and hence may require the use of additional libraries like Redux or Context API (with Hooks) for state management.

Vue: Vue is an open-source Model–View–ViewModel JavaScript framework that offers an adaptable ecosystem scaling between a library and a full-featured framework to develop user interfaces. The state manager built for Vue is VueX.

Angular: An open-source web application framework based on TypeScript which enables you to use optional static typing.

Source: Stack Overflow

Backend Development Tools

Backend development is “behind-the-scenes” of an application’s functionalities. It involves interaction with the database using code, creating package libraries, creating RESTful APIs, working on business processes, data architecture, and more.

Server Languages

Node.js, Python, JavaScript, and Go are some of the more popular backend or server-end languages out there. They also allow for a smoother transition between frontend and backend processes since they are common for both. Whichever language you opt for, brownie points for learning about data structures and algorithms using that particular language. It will essentially help you optimize your code in the web application.

Node.js: Node.js utilizes JavaScript to run command-line tools and server-side scripts to produce dynamic web content before the page is sent to the user’s browser.

Go: Go (or Golang) is a statically typed, compiled programming language, syntactically similar to C, but with memory safety, garbage collection, structural typing, and CSP-style concurrency.

Server Frameworks

Choosing a framework depends on the server-end language you use, and more importantly, the type of project you work on.

Node.js supports web frameworks such as Express.js, Feathers.js, Koa.js, NestJS, and so on to accelerate the process of application development.

Python serves as a scripting language to support the design and maintenance of complex web applications primarily built on Django and Flask.

If you want to develop a JavaScript-based application, you have frameworks like Express.js, Next.js, Meteor, NestJS, amongst others, to choose from.

Go is quite efficient for building services using frameworks like Revel and Gocraft.

A differentiating overview of Node.js & Django

Databases

A database is a space where all application data is stored. Similar to frameworks, there are certain technology stacks or languages that serve well with certain databases. For instance, the M in Mern stack stands for MongoDB. In this day and age, SQL and NoSQL are the two most preferred types of databases.

MySQL is the second-most popular database technology globally: Popular Databases Ranked

SQL

SQL is a domain-specific language used in programming and designed for managing data held in a relational database management system (RDBMS), or for stream processing in a relational data stream management system (RDSMS). PostgreSQL and MySQL are the widely implemented SQL-based database management systems for handling structured data.

NoSQL

NoSQL supports storage and retrieval of data that is modeled in means other than tabular relations used in relational databases. NoSQL databases are majorly used to handle big data and real-time web applications. MongoDB is a NoSQL database program that uses JSON-like documents with optional schemas, perfect for dynamic data structures.

GraphQL

GraphQL is not a database but a typed query language that provides a comprehensive interpretation of data in an API, making it easier for clients to specify their requirements in a more comprehensive manner. As opposed to traditional REST APIs that involve loading from multiple URLs to get data, GraphQL APIs do it in a single request. Therefore, applications using GraphQL are typically faster even over slow network connections.

While there are various other languages, frameworks, and technologies besides the aforementioned, we picked out the more popular (and extensively used) ones for your convenience. You can, of course, explore beyond tradition and customize your stack as per requirements. Presently, online courses have made learning easier with live instructor-led classes, practical assignments, and even hands-on projects for you to master skill sets at your own pace. All of it, without ‘degree’ as a prerequisite.

To make your life a little easier: The 2020 Web Developer Roadmap provides an all-inclusive reference to some of the best resources you need to skill-up into a full-stack developer. So, happy learning!

Graphic Credit: https://www.freepik.com/

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