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5 Tips on Becoming a Full Stack Developer

 

5 Tips on Becoming a Full Stack Developer

In the 2018 Stack Overflow Developer survey, full stack developer ranks as the second most popular developer position today. This may not surprise you given that a full stack developer is in charge of both the front- and the back-end of an application and pretty much everything in between. Neither it will surprise many that according to the same survey, developers are typically lifelong learners with the overwhelming majority saying they taught themselves a new language, framework or tool outside of their formal education.

Chances are if you are an IT professional, or are thinking about becoming one, you are looking to acquire a new skill set. If you are considering becoming a full stack developer, here are my top five recommendations.

#1 Understand the fundamentals

The best way to make sure you are ready to jump into full stack development is to ensure that your foundational skills are up to snuff. Are you proficient in HTML and CSS, the key languages used to develop full stack applications? These are the building blocks of web-based content. HTML gives the structure of the page while CSS makes them look great.

#2 Get going with JavaScript

JavaScript isn’t just for creating alert boxes and simple animations with CSS anymore. Knowing it gives you the skills needed to work with the many frameworks involved in developing front and back-end applications. Without an understanding of JavaScript you cannot jump into popular frameworks such as Node.js, Angular, React, or any new ones that come along. JavaScript is the foundation upon which these frameworks are built. Similar to learning to drive a stick shift, once you learn you can drive any car.

#3 Pick a back-end language

Although JavaScript is used for back-end frameworks like Node.js, it’s also a good idea to get familiar with another programming language. Whether it be Python, Java, or another language depending on your needs, this will allow you to branch out into other areas of development that an application might require. Like JavaScript for front-end, learning a language like Java or Python lets you play with popular frameworks like Spring, Django or Ruby.

#4 It’s all about data

Now while you may not be expected to be an expert in all things, you at least need to know the basics. And one of the areas you must have a basic understanding of is how to interface with and manage the data for an application. Just like languages and frameworks, there are lots to choose from, but I’d recommend picking a few of the more popular ones and playing with those. MySQL, PostgreSQL, and MongoDB are three that are extremely popular and versatile. MySQL is freeware and comes in a variety of editions and can work with other databases such as Oracle. PostgreSQL and MongoDB are also great as they support JSON. And MongoDB is particularly useful for working with big data.

5) “I love it when a plan comes together…”

Even if you are already an expert in these four areas, if you don’t understand how to plan out an application or how hosting will work, it won’t matter. Try to design your application with efficiency and maintainability in mind. Bring your own experience as to what works and what doesn’t to the table. Applications are trending towards Service Oriented Architecture, and the past few years this has given way to microservices, and a shift away from monolithic applications where if one component fails the whole application comes crashing down. Since microservices are a collection of small connected services, we can fix or update problem areas. This creates applications that are faster to deploy, easier to update, and easier to maintain.

Ultimately the approach you choose to base your application on will likely depend on client needs and the technology requirements. However, as the old knight said to Indy in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, “choose wisely.”

Taken as a whole the notion of full stack development may seem overwhelming. But understand you likely already possess many of the skills needed. You need to look at things differently and dabble in areas that are new to you. Take your time, have fun and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Sometimes that’s how the best lessons are learned.

If you are considering becoming a full stack developer, check out how Skillsoft can help with software development training.

 

Chris Keenan is a Technical Content Planning Specialist at Skillsoft.

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