There’s a reason that true full stack web developers are sometimes referred to as unicorns. It’s the rarity factor. A genuine full stack web developer has such a diverse range of skills that he or she is hard to find. Let’s look in more detail at what these developers do and why it’s so hard to find full stack web developers.
The Full Stack Web Developer: Jack Of All Trades
One of the first definitions of a full stack web developer, states a Medium article, comes from a post by Carlos Bueno, a Facebook engineer, who defines this job specification as a generalist ‘with a deep knowledge of performance implications’. This kind of developer deals with different layers of a web application, which, according to Kent Davidson on Quora, include:
- Graphic Design / Site Content – here you have the user interface and how the site looks to an end user. This would include the buttons and forms a user might fill in, as well as the (hopefully) well-written content.
- Server API – the front-end applications have to use specific interfaces to communicate with the web servers. Think about logging in or forgotten passwords – this will require special interfaces between front end applications and your web servers.
- Server Application and Database Design – the back-end, or ‘server side’, of a website is where the data is stored and it usually consists of three parts, namely a server, an application, and a database. Let’s say you want to take that trip to Hawaii. You’ve seen all the top movies featuring Hawaii – 50 First Dates, Tropic Thunder, The Descendents etc. – and now it’s time for your adventure in paradise. You open a website to book tickets and once you’ve entered the information, the website stores your information in a database that was created on a server. A database is like a massive Excel spreadsheet, but the server could be anywhere. Back-end developers need to understand databases, as well as server programming languages and architecture. If an application keeps crashing or is mind-numbingly slow or keeps throwing errors at you, it’s likely to be a back-end issue.
- Server Configuration – the servers on which your code is running need to be configured and secured. The servers will also need regular patching and updates.
And lastly, you’ll need to know about load balancing, scalability, fault-tolerance, backup and monitoring, which ensure your web application is still running despite increased popularity and demand from users. Coupled with this, you’ll need to know about testing in order to ensure your application can run on most major browsers.
Here’s an illustration from Medium of a version of ‘The Stack’ – you would only need to know one or two components from each layer, but it’s still a lot, and some of those skills could take some time to master.
From the above, it becomes apparent why it’s hard to find full stack web developers. The skills demanded are diverse and the industry is in a state of constant flux, which means developers need to stay abreast of changes. Full stack web developers really should possess a suite of skills to get to grips with each layer in the stack.
But don’t give up heart. All developers, including full stack web developers, have to start somewhere, and a mentor-led full stack web development bootcamp might be just the place where you need to begin. It’s good to know that it’s an excellent investment in your future with average salaries, according to PayScale, in the US of $65,192 and those in the upper regions reaching an exciting $98,374.