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Ideal webdev tech stack for today's MJ-wannabes?

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genesisk5

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like MJ did, I also want to build a SaaS website(car dealership) from scratch and start a business by myself. WordPress won't work since it will be a highly customized website. at first MERN stack looked ideal but ironically it being too flexible and unopinionated, which was the reason I chose it, makes me feel lost, don't know what to choose from tones of third-party libraries and how to organize the project from scratch. I even heard that mongoDB is bad.

now I'm thinking that high-learning-curved and opinionated technologies like Angular could be better in the long run, making my projects better organized and easier to maintain without it being messy. also thinking if I better go for rdbms over mongoDB for the same manner. but on the other hand, I doubt if it really worth investing that much time to dealing with the steep learning curve of those technologies when I have easier alternatives and I'm not doing all these to become a dedicated web developer.

I know it depends and it's my choice but want to hear your experiences/opinions. thank you very much.
 

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Last edited:

Fersko

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MERN seems fine to me, don't know what your experience is as a full stack-developer though. You could try using NestJS upon your Node back-end, seems like a very decent framework which will make setting things up a lot easier. A time consuming process and the most annoying part of every software project IMO.

I've read that Firebase comes with an authentication API straight out of the box, which could also save you a lot of time as this always is very time consuming in every project set-up.

Also, why do you not consider a Spring or .NET backend, they are super strong frameworks which make launching projects very effective?

As for MongoDB, not had to chance to try it out yet but I must admit it seems very promising. When the relations between your entities aren't that complex or important, I think this DBMS is quite ideal.
 
Last edited:

Jasper S

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Long story short, there are plenty of technologies you could use to build your website. However, which ones may be best for you ultimately depends on your current experience and future plans. I'm sure MERN and MEAN both have the capabilities you would need, but there are other frameworks and technologies you may want to consider too. Each with their own pros and cons.

For example, I started learning the Django framework for my websites back-end because I already had some experience with Python. It also has a lot of functionality built in and the learning curve wasn't too bad. I was able to quickly prototype an MVP and get my website live. The front-end is just standard HTML, CSS, JavaScript and BootStrap. With BootStrap I basically just figured things out as I needed them.

With that said, my understanding is there are far fewer programmers who are familiar with Django in contrast to a MERN or MEAN stack. It will be easier to find people who can help you build your website long-term and there will be more information available to you online with MERN and MEAN.

Personally, I don't have much experience with databases. For my website I used Postgres, but it is a very basic implementation. Basically I can post updates to an update page. Nothing complicated, or crazy. I can at least say it was rather simple to set up.

Side note: I don't think my previous experience with Python was very useful in learning Django beyond having a basic understanding of programming. (Classes, functions, variables, if statements, etc.)

Awhile back I did start learning how to use React.js and I was confused pretty quickly. I figured for my own projects it would be better to get feedback and proof of concept rapidly, even with a potentially weird tech stack, rather than spend a ton of time developing something for the long-run. Hopefully that will be a future problem ;)
 

csalvato

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Is LAMP still popular?

@csalvato is probably the guy who would know.

I wouldn't say LAMP is too popular anymore, unless you're building on Wordpress.

40% of the sites on the internet run on Wordpress, including some early stage SaaS, so it's popular in that sense.

But this is usually a misguided stack choice in 2021 unless it's a marketing site or blog you're creating.

Web apps being built on LAMP usually stems from people dabbling in Wordpress and expanding on it ad infinitum, not realizing there are better, more scalable, more web-app focused solutions out there. Or reading a book on how to program on the web from the early to mid 2000s.

like MJ did, I also want to build a SaaS website(car dealership) from scratch and start a business by myself. WordPress won't work since it will be a highly customized website. at first MERN stack looked ideal but ironically it being too flexible and unopinionated, which was the reason I chose it, makes me feel lost, don't know what to choose from tones of third-party libraries and how to organize the project from scratch. I even heard that mongoDB is bad.

now I'm thinking that high-learning-curved and opinionated technologies like Angular could be better in the long run, making my projects better organized and easier to maintain without it being messy. also thinking if I better go for rdbms over mongoDB for the same manner. but on the other hand, I doubt if it really worth investing that much time to dealing with the steep learning curve of those technologies when I have easier alternatives and I'm not doing all these to become a dedicated web developer.

I know it depends and it's my choice but want to hear your experiences/opinions. thank you very much.

I understand the source of your question and wish there was a good answer for you.

Unfortunately, there's not.

Software development (particular web software development) is in a very fragmented and divergent state right now. Understanding everything that's going on in the ecosystem is impossible, let alone describing it.

The advice that I normally give to people who want to write their own software is to minimize their choices down to a few technologies that are proven at scale, and are known to have very rapid development cycles.

In my experience, these three bubble to the top of the list (of course, there are many others, these are just the top 3 in my humble opinion):
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Laravel (like Rails, but for people who prefer PHP)
  • Django (a different take on a web framework, and written in Python)
I like these three because they all:
  • Are proven to enable developers to churn out well tested, sustainable features very quickly
  • There's a large enough talent pool for each of them, which means hiring highly competent employees and freelancers is much easier.
  • They each have conventions around them that you and your team can stick to, which means scaling a team on these technologies is easier (compared to having the whole team decide on every little decision, like you need to do with Node.js)
  • There are terrific services like Heroku which take all the infrastructure concerns off your hand, which lets you focus on just solving problems for customers until you get to a certain level of scale
If you already know your computer science basics, I would recommend picking the one in the language you know best. (If not, maybe you should consider No Code, or prototyping your MVP in a tool like Figma to pre-sell, then hire a developer to write in one of these techs for you).

If you don't know one of these languages (Ruby, PHP or Python) more than any other, take a tutorial on each of these frameworks (each one should take you about 1-3 weeks), and you will have a good idea of which one feels the most right to you.

You can get very far in creating a SaaS that solves real business problems with the vanilla form of any of these frameworks, and minimal JavaScript interaction.

I think we are heading in the wrong direction where people think they can just write JavaScript and write terrific software. JavaScript should make your site more delightful and reactive; your business logic needs to be handled on the back end - not done on the front end then offloaded to another provider like Firebase, imo.

Hope that helps.
 
Last edited:

Raja

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I wouldn't say LAMP is too popular anymore, unless you're building on Wordpress.

40% of the sites on the internet run on Wordpress, including some early stage SaaS, so it's popular in that sense.

But this is usually a misguided stack choice in 2021 unless it's a marketing site or blog you're creating.

Web apps being built on LAMP usually stems from people dabbling in Wordpress and expanding on it ad infinitum, not realizing there are better, more scalable, more web-app focused solutions out there. Or reading a book on how to program on the web from the early to mid 2000s.



I understand the source of your question and wish there was a good answer for you.

Unfortunately, there's not.

Software development (particular web software development) is in a very fragmented and divergent state right now. Understanding everything that's going on in the ecosystem is impossible, let alone describing it.

The advice that I normally give to people who want to write their own software is to minimize their choices down to a few technologies that are proven at scale, and are known to have very rapid development cycles.

In my experience, these three bubble to the top of the list:
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Laravel (like Rails, but for people who prefer PHP)
  • Django (a different take on a web framework, and written in Python)
I like these three because they all:
  • Are proven to enable developers to churn out well tested, sustainable features very quickly
  • There's a large enough talent pool for each of them, which means hiring highly competent employees and freelancers is much easier.
  • They each have conventions around them that you and your team can stick to, which means scaling a team on these technologies is easier (compared to having the whole team decide on every little decision, like you need to do with Node.js)
  • There are terrific services like Heroku which take all the infrastructure concerns off your hand, which lets you focus on just solving problems for customers until you get to a certain level of scale
If you already know your computer science basics, I would recommend picking the one in the language you know best. (If not, maybe you should consider No Code, or prototyping your MVP in a tool like Figma to pre-sell, then hire a developer to write in one of these techs for you).

If you don't know one of these languages (Ruby, PHP or Python) more than any other, take a tutorial on each of these frameworks (each one should take you about 1-3 weeks), and you will have a good idea of which one feels the most right to you.

You can get very far in creating a SaaS that solves real business problems with the vanilla form of any of these frameworks, and minimal JavaScript interaction.

I think we are heading in the wrong direction where people think they can just write JavaScript and write terrific software. JavaScript should make your site more delightful and reactive; your business logic needs to be handled on the back end - not done on the front end then offloaded to another provider like Firebase, imo.

Hope that helps.
what about next.js, I came to know about it a day before yesterday but from what I have read it is frontend and backend combined.
does it make things more smooth?
 

csalvato

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what about next.js, I came to know about it a day before yesterday but from what I have read it is frontend and backend combined.
does it make things more smooth?
Next.js is a front end framework, not one that has front and back end combined, AFAIK.

Next.js has a "back end" in that it can do some rendering server side. That just speeds up load times and makes the site more SEO friendly.

But it will mostly rely on an external API for business logic (like storing identity information, persisting data, etc.). That's why it's part of the JAMStack. It's the "Javascript" and "Markup" part of the JAM stack, but you still need the APIs.

That API can be written in-house (as a standalone Rails App, for example) or be an external database provider (like Google Firebase).

In the context that I'm using it, "back end" means a server that conducts business logic calculations for you (e.g. this user is 5 days old and we send an event driven email to them with the top 5 posts they viewed at this week).

Next.js does not have the ability to handle such business logic, and any business logic it *can* do must be calculated on the front end and passed to some data store. Doing business logic on the front end is risky business because the client may not have a predictable amount of resources, or complex calculations may overwhelm their device. Compare this to a back end that is running on a server you control, with resources you control.

In short: Next.js is terrific to build a complex front end, but it will ultimately need to interact with a back end in some way if it's going to provide meaningful tasks. All Next.js apps I've seen and written operate in this way.
 
Last edited:

srodrigo

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You can build a SaaS successfully with pretty much anything today, as this trend of using any language for anything still continues.

But if you want opinionated frameworks because you don't want too many ways of implementing something, there are things such as RoR or Django, that are battle tested and still in use.
 

EternalStudent

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Apr 4, 2020
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like MJ did, I also want to build a SaaS website(car dealership) from scratch and start a business by myself. WordPress won't work since it will be a highly customized website. at first MERN stack looked ideal but ironically it being too flexible and unopinionated, which was the reason I chose it, makes me feel lost, don't know what to choose from tones of third-party libraries and how to organize the project from scratch. I even heard that mongoDB is bad.

now I'm thinking that high-learning-curved and opinionated technologies like Angular could be better in the long run, making my projects better organized and easier to maintain without it being messy. also thinking if I better go for rdbms over mongoDB for the same manner. but on the other hand, I doubt if it really worth investing that much time to dealing with the steep learning curve of those technologies when I have easier alternatives and I'm not doing all these to become a dedicated web developer.

I know it depends and it's my choice but want to hear your experiences/opinions. thank you very much.

Check out bubble.io for an intuitive nocode platform to build your mvp on. Once you have paying customers you can hire a dev team to build it natively. This is the fastest and safest way to get started.
Rather than spending a year learning before you even get started, you can just spend 3 months building and end up with almost the same thing.
Udemy has some good courses on bubble. Good luck!
 

lobo

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Feb 20, 2019
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Just like others said, don't get so caught up in choosing technologies. Once you master one language, the concepts/principals carry over to the next. PHP/Laravel, Ruby/Rails, Python/Django, JS/Node.js are popular/proven languages and frameworks.

If you already have an idea you're pursuing, test the market before you invest your money/time.
 

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Andreas Thiel

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I'd say the important thing to mention here is that the stack is not that important when current DevOps methodology and technology is used.

With a microservice approach, you can mix and match. Docker is definitely something one should look into.

What throws me off about the original post is:
what is the goal again? Building a SaaS solution, or a website for your own car dealership?
A SaaS platform that car dealerships can use to create / host their own websites?

If you learn how to write plugins for WordPress from scratch, then there are pretty much no limits to extending / customizing your own website. Should be a lot more manageable than learning several technologies and figuring out how to bring them together. Creating a SaaS platform ... I think in that case you want some more flexibility.

That said, you might just have to get used to the thought that this sh*t is hard. 95% of programming is research, testing assumptions and finding better ways to do things. There is no stack that allows you to simply keep creating once you have learned the basics.
 

SoftwareEducator

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Jan 23, 2021
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Long story short, there are plenty of technologies you could use to build your website.

The advice that I normally give to people who want to write their own software is to minimize their choices down to a few technologies that are proven at scale, and are known to have very rapid development cycles.

You can build a SaaS successfully with pretty much anything today, as this trend of using any language for anything still continues.

Just like others said, don't get so caught up in choosing technologies. Once you master one language, the concepts/principals carry over to the next. PHP/Laravel, Ruby/Rails, Python/Django, JS/Node.js are popular/proven languages and frameworks.

If you already have an idea you're pursuing, test the market before you invest your money/time.

I'd say the important thing to mention here is that the stack is not that important when current DevOps methodology and technology is used.

With a microservice approach, you can mix and match. Docker is definitely something one should look into.
I'd like to echo these ideas.

OP, if your goal is to create a car dealership, then it's really not a big deal what development stack you use. For the users, the focus will not be on how the website is built, but if the website does what they need.

A few years ago, I heard an answer to a question very similar to yours from a very experienced developer that went something like this: "Just pick a tech stack that you don't hate and that can build what you need."

Personally I'm a proponent of microservices, so if you can use cloud services to scale your underlying architecture up and down depending on the real-time computing demands of your website, that will allow you more flexibility with which exact tools you use to write the code for the website.
 

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