The world has gone mobile. Mobile projects are hugely important – but tech stacks can have a huge impact on their success.
According to the latest figures from Statista, in the second quarter of 2020 mobile devices generated 51.53% of all web traffic.
This follows the growing trend emerging in the eCommerce sector. Since 2017, mobile devices have accounted for around 50% of all traffic each year. It also highlights that there’s no better time to start focusing on mobile app development.
When you decide to make the move to mobile, you’ll have to make some more big decisions. One of the first revolves around your ‘tech stack’. There’s a popular belief that a tech stack can make or break a project. So, before you start anything, it’s important to get to grips with what a tech stack is and why it’s so vital to your mobile development project.
“These decisions are critical and have to be done very early in the process to ensure the project is successful,” says Philippe Cohen, founder of Shefing Innovation as a Service, and Mobile Development partner for CreativeMinds.
What are Tech Stacks?
Tech stacks can also be known as a solutions stack, technology eco-structure, or a data ecosystem. Regardless of what name it’s under, the stack refers to all of the services used to build and run an application. This includes the programming languages, software, and tools used in the development project.
The Three Types of Tech Stack
There are three main types of stack: front-end, back-end, and full-stack. Having an understanding of what all three mean can help to make your mobile dev project plain sailing.
The front-end, sometimes known as the client facing portion, of your mobile app is the part that users get to interact with. Good front end-developer ensures that the app has a clear format and is easy to navigate.
On the other hand, back-end development focuses on the bits behind the scenes, including servers and databases. Back-end development includes working with programming languages and libraries amongst other software.
Back-end development tools include SQL, PHP, and Java, and these will form a back-end tech stack.
Full Stack Development
Finally, there’s “full stack” development. This is a tech stack that encompasses both the front-end and back-end parts of a project.
Full stack development requires the skills to work with a range of development tools, both front-end and back-end. If you want a full-stack approach to your project, then it’s best to ensure your tech stack encompasses both front-end and back-end elements.
Why Are Tech Stacks So Important?
Though it may seem confusing if you don’t yet speak the language, a tech stack can say a lot to developers in just a few words. A tech stack quickly and efficiently conveys what a developer would need in order to work on a project.
Knowing what’s in your tech stack can also have benefit when searching for a developer to collaborate with. By listing what’s in your tech stack, you can filter out developers who aren’t familiar with the coding language you intend to use, or don’t have the right experience to help you with what you need.
What You Need to Consider When Building Your Stack
When it comes to building your tech stack, there are some important elements that you need to consider in order to ensure your project is a success.
Native vs Hybrid
A native app is one that is designed for a specific operating system in mind, whether that’s iOS or Android. There are specific tools used for each of these – Swift or Objective-C for iOS and Java for Android.
On the other hand, a hybrid app will look and feel like a native app for users but in reality what they’re interacting with is a web app that’s cleverly wrapped.
When it comes to making the choice between native and hybrid, there are pros and cons to both.
The mature ecosystems available to build native apps mean that users are almost guaranteed to understand how to use the app, as it will feel similar to others they’ve more than likely used before. This can also give a positive boost to user experience.
However, you’re likely to find that hybrid apps are cheaper and quicker to develop, meaning you can get it up, running, and added to your app stores of choice in a shorter amount of time.
Cross Platform vs Platform Specific
The second choice to make is whether you want to keep your app specific to one platform (e.g iOS or Android) or take advantage of emerging technologies that allow you to build cross platform apps.
Typically, apps are made for one operating system – meaning you’d need to develop two separate apps if you wanted to feature in both iOS and Android app stores – but tech giants have been working on promising software that aims to change the game.
Facebook’s React Native has proved a popular tool for building cross platform apps, and Google’s Flutter provides a ‘UI toolkit’ for building applications across ‘mobile, web, and desktop from a single codebase’.
“Both are cross platform development frameworks that enable single-code base development without being limited to the WebView,” explains Philippe.
So, what are the pros and cons for cross platform vs platform specific apps?
Platform specific development is simplified by the services and support provided by your chosen operating system. However, you might find that building a purely platform specific app proves more expensive in the long run.
In fact, a cross platform approach can purportedly save up to 80% of your development budget. Not only this but having your app on multiple platforms can boost your audience and vastly increase your user base.
The approach that’s best for you will depend on your budget, and the kinds (and number) of users you’re hoping to reach.
Server or Severless
Once upon a time, option for building the back-end of an app were limited. You could only use Java, PHP, or another type of full capacity server that would host on the cloud.
However, there is now the option of severless infrastructure. This means that vendors charge based on usage rather than a fixed fee for bandwidth or number of servers. Both Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud now offer this in the form of Lambda and Google Firebase respectively.
The advantage of going severless includes reduced server development time, decreased cost, and accelerated client development.
“They allow us to reduce server development time and cost dramatically and accelerate client development,” says Philippe.
Making Sure Your Mobile Development Project Runs Smoothly
Undertaking a mobile dev project to create an app can be a daunting task, especially if you have no prior knowledge of app or web development.
We hope this guide has helped you gain understanding of what a tech stack is and why it’s so important. However, we know just the place if you’re looking for further guidance.
CreativeMinds offers Mobile Development services to ensure that your mobile development project runs smoothly. Get in touch to talk about mobile development right now!