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Who Are Full-Stack Developers and Why Are They Needed

Can one programmer create a modern application, and does this approach have any chances compared to the hire dedicated software development team? Read more in the material.

Full-Stack Developers

Rise and fall of full stacks

In the early days of the public internet, websites were small and often created by a single person, a webmaster. As the web commercialized, so did the requirements for software, which led to the specialization of web programmers. The development of client-server applications turned into a team effort, where individual people were responsible for network equipment, setting up virtual machines, databases, and so on.

Building next-generation web services was becoming prohibitively expensive. This was directly related to overhead - as more people connected, communication costs increased exponentially and slowed down development.

At the same time, new generation website creation technologies were becoming easier thanks to new high-level programming languages and frameworks. At some point, this allowed one programmer to take over the full cycle of creating a web application again.

On the web, the open-source LAMP stack of all components (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP / Python / Perl) and the proprietary Microsoft stack (Windows Server, SQL Server, IIS, ASP.NET) have gained great popularity. Tools appeared that accelerated the development of the back-end, and jQuery / CSS3 / HTML5 technologies helped with the rendering of interfaces. The rise in popularity has also been linked to the availability of hosting solutions.

Regardless of the stack, the result of a web request was HTML/CSS/JS code that came from the server. HTML provided the content, CSS made it beautiful, and JavaScript added a bit of interactivity. The server combined the HTML templates with business data to create a rendered page in the browser.

By the end of the 2000s, it became a reality to create a full-fledged site on your own, including a dynamic client application, server-side business logic, a scalable database, deployment, and operational support. A new generation of full-cycle developers has accelerated the delivery of functionality, largely due to the reduction in communication costs. These specialists became known as full stacks.

In the 2010s, new disciplines emerged - mobile development, machine learning, augmented reality, big data, blockchain, and a host of other things that one person cannot possibly know. For example, building native apps for iOS and Android requires platform experts, while DevOps requires deep knowledge of cloud services and failover skills.

As JavaScript frameworks have evolved, it has become possible to create rich real-time interfaces in the browser. Single-page applications like Facebook and Google Maps began to appear. Front-end development has become a separate specialization.

It's time to say goodbye to the idea that one person can create and launch a modern digital product ... or not?

Rest in peace, full-stack. Long live the T-shaped specialist!

The idea of a universalist is too tempting to just let go. Therefore, today, recruiters in Peiko company often talk about T-shaped competencies. Invented by American recruiters in the 80s, the term has found a new life.

What does it mean? It's basic - the vertical T refers to experience and understanding of a particular field, while the horizontal T refers to the ability to collaborate with experts from other disciplines and broaden one's horizons.

The problem is that programmers are expected to have different skills in the horizontal bar — product, design, management, and so on, while the old-fashioned vertical bar is responsible for everything related to engineering.

For example, for a front-end developer, the vertical line is responsible for mastering technologies, understanding different approaches to programming, and knowing best practices. The horizontal line is about the ability to find a common language with designers, understand UX / UI, and also, for example, SEO. Such a specialist sees the global picture and makes the right decisions.


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