Pros and Cons of Full Stack JavaScript Development

To say that JavaScript is one of the most widely used programming languages today would be an understatement. That’s because JavaScript is all around us, especially powering the World Wide Web, enabling interactive elements on the internet, and being a core component of many web apps. 

Initially used in frontend engineering, JavaScript can now be integrated into the server side, which has increased its popularity even more. Funnily enough, that move also sparked a crucial discussion: since now you can use it in both the frontend and the backend, should you consider using it for an entire project? In other words, should you hire full stack JavaScript developers to work on your web project?

JavaScript Developers

What is Full Stack Development?

To understand what a full stack developer does, first you need to know what full stack means. Basically, a tech stack is a combination of tools and programming languages to create a platform that supports applications. For example, a stack for a web application would be formed by the operating system, a web server, a database, and at least one programming language. 

Since software has a client-facing side (the frontend) and a server side (the backend), software engineers talk of two separate stacks that cover all the layers that make up the entire tech stack of that particular software. As such, many people claim that you have to tackle both stacks separately to create software successfully. 

However, other people believe that developing both the front and back end with the same stack isn’t just possible – it’s the best alternative. These are the full stack developers, engineers that have the necessary skills to create or optimize the complete integration between frontend and backend systems through one single code. 

What is a full stack JavaScript developer?

In that sense, a full stack JavaScript developer is an engineer that can develop both the frontend and the backend applications. This means that they have to master HTML and CSS but also have the skills to build a browser, a server, and a database. Full stack JavaScript developers have a very popular stack to do so, called MEAN, which includes:

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    MongoDB, a NoSQL database program
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    Express, considered the de facto standard server framework for Node.js.
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    AngularJS, a frontend web framework
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    Node.js, a JavaScript runtime environment for server-side scripting

As you can see, all of the components are based on JavaScript, which supports the idea of tackling all the web project’s layers with the same language. That’s why this stack is so popular among full stack JavaScript developers. 

Of course, the fact that MEAN is popular doesn’t mean that this stack is the only one full stack JavaScript developers use. There are many other technologies to use as alternatives for each of those components, including Koa, restify, React, Vue.js, MySQL, and many more. 

Pros of Full Stack JavaScript

Using full stack JavaScript development is great for a number of reasons, including the following:

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    Increased Development Efficiency
    Full stack JavaScript Developers can work on a web app entirely in that programming language, making it easier for anyone in the team to understand what’s going on. In other words, the people working in the frontend and the backend all use the same language, so they are always aware of what’s happening with the entire project. What’s more, you can use only one team to handle the whole app, leading to a more efficient development experience.
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    More Code Reuse
    Since both the backend and frontend use JavaScript, you can reuse chunks of code that follow similar logic and implementation. This can reduce the amount of code full stack JavaScript developers have to write and the overall number of code lines for the entire project. This makes full stack development more efficient and makes it easier for developers to maintain and update their products.
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    High Performance
    Thanks to Node.js, full stack JavaScript developers can take full advantage of non-blocking programming and create fully asynchronous apps. This allows for the resulting applications to run multiple independent processes simultaneously. This, in turn, increases the performance of web applications written entirely in JavaScript, resulting in better user experience and higher quality products.
  • Access To Open Source Tools
    Virtually the entire MEAN stack is open source, which means that you’ll get access to vetted tools for free (in most cases). The fact that they are open source implies that they are regularly updated by their respective communities, which bring a lot of benefits for their users.
  • More Development Talent Available
    According to the 2020 Stack Overflow Developer Survey, JavaScript is the most-used technology with an astonishing 69.7% of respondents saying they use it in some way. This means that there are plenty of people out there who understand and regularly use this programming language, a vast pool from which you can always pick new talent to boost your full stack projects.
  • Plenty Of Resources
    JavaScript doesn’t just have an enormous list of tools, frameworks, and libraries readily available for web developers - it also boasts one of the most thriving communities in the development world. This means that full stack JavaScript developers will have many resources to help them while coding their projects, from dedicated communities to forums, documentation, and ebooks.

Cons of Full Stack JavaScript

Naturally, going the full stack JavaScript development path means you’ll have to deal with some disadvantages. Here are the most notable ones. 

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    Not Suitable For Computation-Heavy Projects
    Yes, Node.js is great to improve a web application’s performance - unless you’re trying to build an app that relies on intensive data processing on the server side. Sure, you can break down the most complex tasks into microservices with more suitable technologies and then have them “talk” to your backend to keep Node.js. However, that adds an extra layer of complexity to the project, which costs money and takes time.
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    Limited Server-side Capabilities
    As mentioned in the introduction, JavaScript added its server-side capabilities after being focused exclusively in the frontend. Any seasoned backend engineer can quickly spot the limitations this relative lack of maturity brings to the job, especially when compared with more established alternatives like PHP or Java.
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    Limited Amount Of “True” Full Stack Developers
    This might seem contradictory after saying that one of the advantages of full stack JavaScript development is that you have access to more talent but think about it. While you can quickly find JavaScript developers that can work in both the frontend and the backend, they always end up being more suitable for one or the other. Finding engineers that are actually capable of delivering on both ends is rather tricky, which is why some people say that full stack JavaScript developers are like unicorns.

Should You Use Full Stack JavaScript Development?

After reading all this, you surely have a better understanding of what it means to work with full stack JavaScript developers in your web apps. But should you go ahead and do so? It’s hard to tell, as full stack development can be great for certain projects and a disaster for others. As a rule of thumb, full stack JavaScript development is suited for projects like: 

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    P2P apps and services
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    IoT products
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    eCommerce platforms
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    Fintech applications
  • Web-based enterprise applications

However, there might be cases where the full stack approach might not be the best solution. How can you be sure? While it’s impossible to know in advance, having the proper assessment of a full stack development company like BairesDev can certainly help untangle this dilemma. Our engineers can help you assess your web app project and aid you with the decision, taking into account all of these points. So, if you’re considering whether full stack JavaScript development is for you, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ll be glad to help. 

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