The Myth of the Best Tech Stack

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As time passes new and exciting frameworks are brought to market. They promise to be more efficient, cost less, and solve all your tech stack problems. For start-ups choosing the latest and greatest bit of tech seems like the obvious choice. Sometimes these decisions are made even before requirements are set. So begins a cycle of chasing the best, most effective, and cost-effective tech that simultaneously gives an edge on the competition. Chasing but never finding.

The problem here is the chase never ends. Nothing is built to completion. What is left resembles Frankenstein’s lab of half-built monstrosities that should never see the light of day. The problem is not just confined to start-ups but established organizations as well.

Stacks, Front, Back, Full

The IT industry is plagued by buzz words. These are used by marketers to add a level of shine to a product once it reaches a market that is hard to ignore. Unfortunately, that shine rubs off fairly quickly. This is especially the case when you realize the ground-breaking language or framework lacks any kind of community and three deadlines have been missed.

Learning to ignore the hype surrounding what is marketed as the latest and best can be vital in achieving goals. If your idea is nearing the stage when it turns into a start-up, choosing how to bring it into reality will prove vital. This will inevitably bring up the discussion surrounding the infamous tech stack. All boys and girls will one day get the “talk” and all start-ups will receive the tech stack talk.

The talk will typically involve what is the front end and the back end for those needing a web application. There is not a universal best choice, unfortunately. It is true some choices will cover a lot of ground regarding both front-end and back-end usefulness. However, each decision regarding the tech stack needs to suit your specific needs. A complete assessment of needs, not wants, must be the starting point in the tech stack discussion.

Costs and Time to Market

It is an unwritten rule that any new framework needs to be advertised as providing cost savings. This is done through less development time, less required for maintenance. Both of which are important factors for any project. If existing tech stacks already meet those two requirements within budget, then you have answered a critical tech question.

The new, shiny, but unproven tech upgrades may potentially save you money. Just as likely is they may cost you more. This is because they lack support or a community that has already encountered similar problems. Choosing popular pre-existing technologies also means you will be able to find skilled developers and reasonable costs. The newer the tech the more likely it is that developers will charge more. This will eat into perceived cost savings.

Also, going with popular, but older, technologies can reduce time to market, giving the app a competitive edge. This is because developers have already likely encountered problems that would have caused delays in the past. These delays would have resulted in increased costs and missed deadlines. Luckily, they have been encountered in some form or the other already and solutions are readily available.

Newest is Not Best

The above few points should indicate that newest is not always best. When looking to either incorporate a new tech stack or supplement an existing one, the best choice will always meet the project’s needs. To do this requires team leaders to explicitly define those needs. Then try and answer how those needs will be best met. It may be that a new framework or programming language can do that. This is probably true for a large minority of cases. Ultimately, the best tech stack will meet the goals set out at the start and rise to meet issues as they crop up.

It will feel like you need a crystal ball to determine all that. Remember, there is a high possibility an older tech stack has encountered all the problems you are facing currently and in the future.

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