Increasingly, companies are searching for skilled developers who can work confidently across numerous domains and fulfil multiple roles. One individual managing all pieces of a project can avoid miscommunication and knowledge silos. Generally keeping the build process clean and efficient, while producing an effective product.
As such, good full stack web developers are becoming more desirable. Especially in smaller companies or start-ups, who don’t have necessarily the resources to hire professionals for every part of the process.
While other developers stick to a programming language niche, full stack developers can work with any programming language. They are language-agnostic in that they use their knowledge and experience to select the best language for the task at hand. Basing this solely on what will deliver optimum results. As opposed to what can be achieved with the limited skill set available within a team.
Full stack web developers become this way by constantly trying out new technologies throughout their careers. This allows them to create code that caters to different requirements. Developers who have specialised in a specific language will attempt to make projects fit around its limitations. Rather than developing a solution of best fit. In this instance, what may have worked for a previous client may not be the right solution for the next.
A good full stack web developer would assess the brief and utilise the best solution available to achieve the desired outcome.
Yet, it can be hard for full stack developers to know what separates the good from the average. There are so many skills they can possess, there is no right or wrong combination. But there are a number of key things that identify a good full stack web developer.
View the list below to see what a good full stack web developer should know.
The fundamental programming principles
It is easy for developers to write code, but writing good code is another matter. There are many ways for programmers to write bad code, making websites or applications slow to load, buggy or completely useless.
They should steer clear of messy code, huge if-else chains, programs that break with single adjustments and variables that don't make sense. Their programs must work long term so forward-thinking is essential.
This can be prevented by writing code that is easy for any developer to understand. They can do so by remaining strict and sticking to programming principles.
- Writing code as simply as possible and using clear variable names. This makes it easy to read and understand.
- Writing DRY code that avoids duplication of data or logic.
- Knowing when to make their code open to extension but closed to modification.
- Using composition over inheritance, single responsibility and other key principles that allow programming work to be as clean and easy to maintain as possible.
Speaking the Language
A good full stack developer will have a grasp of the core programming languages. They will also command a solid understanding of what makes a good website or web app and how to test their work.
Below is a summary of the key competencies a good full stack developer should possess:
HTML & CSS
Hypertext Markup Language and Cascading Style Sheets are essential strings to the full stack bow. They are two of the core front end technologies that are used for building web pages. HTML delivers the structure of the page and CSS provides the visual and aural layout on many devices.
Numerous backend languages
Backend development languages such as Rails, Java and Python handle the ‘behind-the-scenes’ functionality of the web application. Their code works together with the front end to deliver it to users. They also connect the web app with databases, support user connections and power the entire project.
Full stack web developer should be familiar with one or more modern version such as Elixir, Scala or Node.
A good full stack developer will be fluent in at least one modern framework such as Vue, React or Angular. They will know how best to organise this to support the front end application structure. So that developing the functionality is easier and faster, and the application performs robustly.
UI & UX design
To be a good full stack developer, they must be able to see things from the users perspective. Through effective user interface and user experience design, an application can be developed to encourage behaviours and actions. As opposed to a poorly designed one that discourages them and instead promotes user bounces and abandonment.
In terms of UX, they adopt a human-first way of designing products. Thinking about how the experience of using the product makes the user feel, and how easily they can accomplish desired tasks. They will then consider the many elements that shape this experience. Making the functionality changes necessary to create an easy, efficient, relevant and pleasing product experience.
Aside from the functionality of the product, they must also be able to improve the visual experience. User interface design is hugely important to complement the user experience. Full stack developers must therefore consider the look and feel, presentation and interactivity of a product. Ensuring that the user interface is as intuitive as possible. They must understand the impact each visual and interactive element may have on the user and how best to apply them.
The types of data and how to store it
It is important developers know the difference between relational (SQL) or non-relational (NoSQL) data structures such as MySQL and mongoDB. They must also be able to identify which is the best to select for the business needs. As well as understanding the handling of Big Data using services like Hadoop, Spark and Cassandra.
Familiarity with cloud computing services is also really important. This is the infrastructure intended to provide high availability and performance for web hosting. Ideally, full stack developers will have deployed to cloud services like AWS previously. Plus, they will understand the integration and automation possibilities on offer by using systems like AWS, Jenkins and Docker.
How to produce responsive work
Full stack developers must be accustomed to producing responsive work that can be applied successfully across multiple mobile platforms. No matter if they have been built in native apps with Swift, or hybrid apps with ionic or react native.
How to test their work
Full stack developers must regularly test their own work. Time and expense can be wasted if other team members have to decipher their work before checking it. Testing is essential to make sure an application is doing what is intended. They must be habitual in setting automated scripts that execute the code to see if the results are as expected. This not only allows them and others to be confident in their work, it saves times and money.
Realising these tests must evolve with the applications is also important. As the code changes and improves, so too must the tests. A good full stack developer will understand how to design tests that are in proportion with the action being assessed. So, when it comes to updating them, the edits required are concise and efficient.
The vast and ever-evolving development technologies make it impossible for anyone to be an expert in everything. However, full stack developers must be knowledgable in every area.
A good full stack web developer will have a firm grasp on the above and should be passionate in their pursuit of further knowledge. The best way to prove their capabilities is by having a portfolio on hand, or live examples of work on sites like Github.
Another way to ascertain if a full stack developer has a good grasp in essential areas is to review the qualifications they have achieved. Whether it be a computer science degree or qualifications achieved from reputable courses.
If you are considering becoming a full stack web developer, consider taking an online course. You can learn the skills you need to enter this line of work while keeping to your current commitments. Allowing you the freedom to study alongside work or family care.
learndirect is a leading UK distance learning provider. They offer many excellent online courses to help you achieve your goals. The Full Stack Developer: Professional Diploma in Software Development can have you ready to enter the profession in a matter of months. No matter what level of programming you are currently capable of.
Find out more about this dynamic course by clicking the link below.