Chris Butterworth
Strategist, Designer, Developer

Choosing the right stack

Whether its the next big thing or a default stack to use within an agency, choosing the technical stack you use is an important decision to make.

Internally for a project that can grow you may look at PHP, Python, JavaScript or even .Net if that’s your background. For an agency, PHP tends to be the go to platform with frameworks like Laravel and content managements systems like WordPress, Drupal and Concrete5; although Python has grown with projects like Django as well as JavaScript with projects like KeystoneJS. Although .Net will always be around especially with those targeting more enterprise level projects.

With the breadth of languages and techniques out there, there is a skill shortage and high demand for growth which is one of the most important reasons for making the right choice when it comes to your stack.

Picking a stack does not mean that you are tied to it forever and it can be changed but that’s an expensive process both in terms of retraining the current team or hiring for a more specialised team. There are some older organisations still looking for Java developers when I’ve met only 5 during my 10 year career so they’re a rare breed. Some older code is still being used on a daily basis such as COBOL which powers most banking systems with 1,000,000 lines of code being added every year to add to the already millions of lines to fix bugs and add features. For me they are ripe for disruption and need to change - while its still expensive to support and extend this code changing the stack is still more expensive. Within an agency it means you can step out of your usual stack

When picking your stack, pick one that people know; whether its a large community, a lot of public resources on it or whether it’s already a well established stack in itself this way it makes it easy to grow and easier to build on.

Forget the latest trend, the latest fad, what seems “normal”, forget “well everybody else is”; use what you can build and grow around.

Update - 18.8.2019

It would be a missed opportunity if I didn't talk about sustainability within the stack you choose. Some languages require JIT compilation or a huge amount of energy initially to compile it so choosing the right stack for sustainable projects (which they all should be) will take some additional research into how much energy and resource the platform requires to run.

Published on: 09.05.2019

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