In the modern era, the success of an application depends less on one major move and is more about a series of smaller ones. They may seem innocent on their own but, when taken together, they add up to something far more powerful as a collective.
It’s also true that modern web technology tools have been taken to bold new heights in recent memory, and are capable of building just about anything. But when the possibilities are essentially limitless, this poses a new challenge – which web technologies are actually appropriate for building and developing the types of SaaS apps intended to meet your needs?
The answer to that question, of course, requires you to keep a few key things in mind.
What is a Technology Stack for Web Development?
But before we get to that particular answer, it’s important to better understand what a technology stack actually is in this context.
Essentially, there are two sides to web development – the client-side and the server-side. The former is also usually referred to as the “front end.” The server side involves an application (and the backend programming language at the heart of it), a database and, ultimately, the server itself.
The Ins and Outs of Client-Side Programming
Front end web development involves everything that users actually see on their screens. This includes major components like:
- Hypertext Markup Language, or HTML, which tells a browser how to display the content of web pages.
- Cascading Style Sheets, or CSS, which ultimately styles that content.
Server-Side Programming: Breaking Things Down
The server-side, on the other hand, isn’t visible to users at all. It POWERS the client side, just as a power station might provide your home with electricity.
The server side is also where the majority of your challenges rest. Programming languages, for example, are used to create the logic of websites (and, in this case, of SaaS applications). Frameworks for programming languages offer a wide variety of different tools that you can use for faster, more straightforward coding.
Just a few of the popular programming languages and their major frameworks include but are not limited to ones like:
- Ruby (Ruby on Rails)
- Python (Django, Flask, Pylons)
- PHP (Laravel)
- Java (Spring)
- Scala (Play)
Likewise, your web application is going to need a place to store all of that data that is being created. This is what a database is used for.
To that end, you can choose between a relational and a non-relational database to met your needs. Some of the most common databases used for web development include:
- MySQL (relational)
- PostgreSQL (relational)
- MongoDB (non-relational, document)
Likewise, a web application needs a caching system to reduce the load on the database and to handle massive volumes of traffic at the exact same time. Memcached and Redis are the most widespread caching systems available.
Tools like Apache and Nginx are used to help make sure that your server can handle requests from client computers.
In order to develop your SaaS application, you need to carefully select ALL of these elements. Not just your server and database, but also your programming language, your framework and even the front end tools you’re going to use.
These are collectively called a “technology stack” and make no mistake – this is one of the most important decisions you will make as a SaaS development company.
The Criteria for Choosing the Right Technology Stack
Because you’re developing a SaaS web application, you’re essentially going to be creating a mid-level or a complex project by default. Mid-level ones have more functions than simple apps and are usually found in large e-commerce stores and enterprises. Complex web apps have many different functions and integrations and examples include things like social networks, fintech software and more.
You’ll also need to consider the unique needs that your project will bring with it. Before you choose your technology stack, think about your requirements in terms of the following factors:
- Processing heavy loads. If your SaaS app needs to be able to process heavy loads, you must choose a programming language and a framework built to support that goal.
- Low latency. This means that your web application is as highly responsive as possible, regardless of how many people are using it.
- Time to market. Your ability to actually get your app into the hands of your end-users will depend on whether or not you’re using out-of-the-box solutions, for example. The Ruby on Rails framework allows you to use many open source libraries (called gems) that significantly reduce your time to market.
- Any necessary integrations. If you want your SaaS app to work with third-party software, you need to choose a technology stack that can provide this.
- Developer availability. If you can’t handle all of this on your own, can you find an SaaS development company that can?
- Scalability. This isn’t something you can think about after the fact – you need to consider scalability as early on in the development process as possible. If you need horizontal scalability, your technology stack better support it. The same is true of vertical scalability, which may be necessary to add new features later on.
In the end, you should now have everything you need to fully understand not only your vision for your SaaS app but the requirements that will help bring that vision to life. Remember that there’s no one size fits all approach to choosing a technology stack – there is only the approach that works for you and you alone.
Having said that, by considering these factors you’ve narrowed down your choices significantly. The web technologies that cannot support your goal should be removed from consideration and you’ll be left with very few choices. At that point, all you have to do is choose the one you feel the most comfortable with and get to work on making your SaaS app a reality.