Choosing the right technology stack for your application is one of the most vital steps of the entire development life cycle. The technology stack refers to the set of technologies, programming languages, frameworks, software, and tools which are used for the development and deployment of sites or apps.

The tech industry has evolved so much that there is a myriad of tools and frameworks to choose from, which can create confusion for developers. Choosing a framework for your app is a decision that could have unforeseen implications in the future. Therefore, it's essential to conduct thorough research before settling on any web frameworks.

Frontend and backend development are the two major areas of application development. The frontend is the presentation layer of your app, which is directly accessible to the user and displayed in user screens. The basic frontend technology stack includes HTML, CSS, Javascript, and some of its advanced frameworks like React, Angular, or VueJS.

The backend (or server-side) is not accessible to end-users and remains invisible. It acts as the backbone of the application and is developed using programming languages such as PHP, Ruby, Python, or frameworks like Django, Spring Boot, or NodeJS.

There are many criteria to consider before choosing a frontend or backend framework, such as learning curve, ease of integration with other libraries, popularity, core features, language, and more. The right tech stack ensures that your project is up to a high quality standard and meets client expectations. Below are some frontend backend technology combos that can work wonders together in application development.

React and Express (Node.js) – The All-Javascript Pair

React.js/React is an open-source frontend framework that is based on JavaScript, developed by Facebook, and best known for its virtual DOM feature. With React, we recommend Express.js/Express as a backend service. It is an unopinionated backend framework for Node.js and is also the underlying library for many other Node web frameworks.

ReactJS is one of the most popular Javascript libraries and is primarily used for creating frontend user interfaces. It was introduced by Facebook and is maintained with the help of many individual developers and companies. The main reason to use React for your project is its ability to fetch fast-changing data, which also needs to be logged. It's an open-source technology that can be used with the MVC (Model-View-Controller) structure with React contributing to the View layer.

One of the main advantages of React is that it can be used to build components that consist of mainly custom HTML elements. These components can be reused to develop user interfaces efficiently. React can also organize the way data is stored and handled with the use of state and props.

React is also the best solution for issues such as low performance and slow user interaction caused by DOM manipulation. It addresses those issues by using a virtual DOM where all the changes are saved, and the difference of two UI states is resolved by analyzing an algorithm.

Express is a fast and minimalist framework built on NodeJS. It enables the easy creation of REST APIs by allowing you to define the code that runs for various requests in the server.

NodeJS is an open-source, Javascript runtime environment built on Google Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine. In other words, NodeJS uses the Google V8 Javascript engine to execute code. Furthermore, NodeJS consists of a built-in library that acts as a Web server without software like Apache HTTP Server or IIS.

NodeJS is the most convenient platform for hosting a React application for the following two reasons:

  1. With the use of NPM (Node Package Manager), NodeJS works in parallel to the NPM registry for the convenient installation of any package through NPM CLI.
  2. Node packages the React application as a single file for easy execution using webpack and some other Node modules.

What Makes React and Express Compatible?

  • NodeJS and React are both Javascript Languages that can be executed both client-side as well as server-side.
  • NodeJS uses the speed optimized V8 engine to address bulk requests that are handled through callback functions to ensure quantity and quality.
  • Developers can run the React code directly in the NodeJS environment.
  • The React DOM has components specially designed to work with NodeJS, which reduce lines of code, making server-side rendering comparably easy.

Who should choose to build with React and Express?

  • This pair can prove great for developers and development teams with extensive JavaScript experience, since both frameworks use JavaScript.
  • React was initially designed to handle large amounts of traffic on the internet. Without a doubt, the combination of Express and React can cater to multiple simultaneous requests and help manage server load.
  • If you're looking to develop an SPA (Single Page Application), Express will be a perfect lightweight model for asynchronous data loading.
  • Using a Node web framework for the backend increases the scalability of your project. So, if you're looking for your website to grow in the coming days, this is a perfect pair.

One possible drawback of React, in particular, would be the learning curve involved in JSX. JSX could prove to be difficult for budding developers.

Angular and Express (Node.js) – The TypeScript-Friendly Pair

Angular with NodeJS is another popular combo for web development. Angular is an open-source Javascript framework developed by Google, and it's well suited for building Single Page Applications. Some benefits of using Angular for client-side development include fast and responsive apps, ease of development due to its DRY and structured nature, and dynamic data binding.

Angular strongly supports the use of TypeScript. TypeScript’s static typing feature is useful for detecting bugs when writing code and thereby helps developers to write and maintain more robust code. Thus, TypeScript is paving the way for the development of large scale applications written in JavaScript.

The use of NodeJS is not compulsory for your Angular application, but NodeJS makes Angular development easier due to several reasons.

  • Node lets you set up a simple webserver to locally host your application in your system.
  • Node Package Manager gives you the Angular CLI or ng CLI ( Angular command-line interface). Angular CLI is a valuable tool for scaffolding your app so that there’s no need to write boilerplates manually.
  • Angular and Express both support TypeScript. As browsers can’t directly execute TypeScript, you need to transpile TypeScript code into JavaScript. You also need to bundle the JS files and CSS files along with the HTML doc in order to prepare your app for web hosting. Angular CLI assists in doing all these things in the background. By default, ng cli uses Webpack to bundle the application and is very helpful for beginners who are new to Angular development, as it hides such complexities.

Vue.js/Vue is an open-source JavaScript framework used to design the view layer of a web application in a SPA. It is popular among developers for its ease of integration with many other libraries. However, we recommend Laravel as the best match with Vue for backend services.

Laravel is a widely used, open-source, PHP-based framework which is specifically used for web application development. It is a framework with lots of supportive tools and built-in functionalities. Following the famous Model, View, Controller (MVC) architecture, it helps to build feature-rich web applications with scalability, flexibility, and ease of use. Some of Laravel’s well-known features are below:

  • Blade Template Engine
  • Eloquent ORM
  • Artisan command-line interface
  • Database Migration
  • Automatic Package Delivery

Even though these two frameworks are based on two different programming languages, VueJS can be nicely coupled with Laravel. You need to make only a few data requests to the Laravel backend to fetch data. Then VueJS will handle all the frontend activities without reloading the page, which results in a perfect user experience.

Writing Vue components for frontend scaffolding

Creating a basic skeleton design for an application is called scaffolding. Laravel provides a very simple way to implement Vue scaffolding in the UI. Here are the steps:

Step 1: To generate scaffolding, install laravel/ui by running the following command.

composer require laravel/ui --dev

Step 2: Next, we run the ui artisan command to generate a base scaffolding with the following command.

php artisan ui vue

Step 3: Next, we need to install and compile the scaffolding with the following command.

npm install
npm run dev

If you want to generate scaffolding along with authentication, then use the --auth option along with the above commands.

You can build outstanding web applications by combining the useful feature of both frameworks. While Vue offers a more rich and interactive interface, Laravel smoothens the development process by easing common tasks such as authentication, routing, caching, and sessions.

Other reasons to pair Laravel and Vue include:

  • Laravel presents the PHP eloquent ORM (Object Relational Mapping) feature, making the data flow seamless when integrated with Vue because of its virtual DOM feature.
  • Laravel is known for its lightweight templates, which will help you create excellent layouts. If you're looking to use CSS and JS code, you can do that, too. Since Vue is a JavaScript UI framework, the layout integrates without any hassles.
  • Using Vue in the frontend, you can write event-driven applications, which could be handled in the frontend itself. When coupled with Laravel, you will be making fewer backend requests, and it's possible to change data in the UI by switching components without reloading the page.

We recommend this duo for...

This pairing could be a great one for all kinds of organizations and teams developing SPAs. However, it is not recommended for teams with no proficiency in using PHP as a language. It will require experienced hands to integrate the two frameworks; otherwise, it could blow out your application.

Angular and Spring Boot - The OG Combo

With the release of React's virtual DOM feature, Angular slightly lost its sheen. Nevertheless, it is still the favorite of many developers and teams. Unlike React and Vue, it binds data in a two-way (bidirectional) fashion. Now, besides Node, what backend framework could best suit Angular? In our opinion, Spring Boot would be a great option!

Spring Boot, written in Java, is based on Spring MVC. Spring Boot was introduced to eliminate the tedious amount of configurations required to set up a Spring project. This combination of Angular and Spring is great for Java developers and enterprises developing dynamic web apps.

However, we don't recommend the angular-spring combination for:

  • Smaller sized teams.
  • Not-so-complex web applications.
  • Developers looking for unopiniated frameworks.

What Makes the Pair Compatible?

  • Java developers will feel at home using both frameworks.
  • Spring Boot along with Angular provides a secure user experience. Let's consider a demo to create a secure login page using Spring Security and Angular.

Step 1: Set up a REST API with Spring Security as below in your Spring Boot    application.

@Configuration
@EnableWebSecurity
public class BasicAuthConfiguration 
  extends WebSecurityConfigurerAdapter {
 
    @Override
    protected void configure(AuthenticationManagerBuilder auth)
      throws Exception {
        auth
          .inMemoryAuthentication()
          .withUser("user")
          .password("password")
          .roles("USER");
    }
 
    @Override
    protected void configure(HttpSecurity http) 
      throws Exception {
        http.csrf().disable()
          .authorizeRequests()
          .antMatchers("/login").permitAll()
          .anyRequest()
          .authenticated()
          .and()
          .httpBasic();
    }
}

Step 2: Next we'll create end points to our REST service for 'user' and 'login'. This code will go in your controller class.

@RestController
@CrossOrigin
public class UserController {
 
    @RequestMapping("/login")
    public boolean login(@RequestBody User user) {
        return
          user.getUserName().equals("user") && user.getPassword().equals("password");
    }
	
    @RequestMapping("/user")
    public Principal user(HttpServletRequest request) {
        String authToken = request.getHeader("Authorization")
          .substring("Basic".length()).trim();
        return () ->  new String(Base64.getDecoder()
          .decode(authToken)).split(":")[0];
    }
}

Step 3: Next, we'll set up our client side which is Angular. We use subscribe and observables to talk to our REST services.

this.http.post<Observable<boolean>>(url, {
    userName: this.model.username,
    password: this.model.password
}).subscribe(isValid => {
    if (isValid) {
        sessionStorage.setItem(
          'token', 
          btoa(this.model.username + ':' + this.model.password)
        );
	this.router.navigate(['']);
    } else {
        alert("Authentication failed.")
    }
});

This is how we implement a simple Spring Security login with Angular. Check this resource for more detailed information.

React Native and Django - Flexibility First

React Native is a powerful Javascript framework used to create native mobile applications. React Native is built on top of ReactJS. It helps mobile app developers to build robust mobile applications using their existing JavaScript skills. Some exciting features of React Native are speedy mobile development and efficient code sharing across iOS, Android, and web. So if you need to build a mobile app for more than one platform, React Native is what you should be looking for.

This technology was introduced by Facebook engineers and is currently being used by some giants such as Bloomberg, Discord, Instagram, Skype, Pinterest, Walmart, etc.

Django is an open-source, Python-based framework that is specifically designed for backend development. It includes almost everything to build perfect backends; hence, you will hardly need third-party plugins. Django is suitable for large applications with lots of features, as Django's main principle is rapid development. By following common paradigms such as MVC architecture, and using its own Object Relational Mapper (ORM) for making CRUD operation calls to the database, Django helps to develop complex features quickly.

Some other great features of Django are that it is highly customizable and scalable. Furthermore, Django has extensive documentation and community. Django doesn't restrict the developer's creative side by strict implementation rules. It also offers a massive library of high-quality community packages.

Great for Almost All!

  • This combination is great for developers and teams looking for cross-platform compliance. Web applications that are supposed to run on various platforms can be built with React Native-Django using the least amount of code compared to other frameworks.
  • This combination works for enterprises from small to large sizes with varying traffic and goals. You could quickly scale up or down with React Native and Django.
  • Django also supports the plugging-in of other frameworks. Some organizations prefer using multiple frameworks; these combinations work with other frameworks, too.
  • An application written using React Native and Django is fast, secure, and cost-efficient.

The Crowdbotics is an app building platform that can be used to save time and cost in building applications. It helps to get React Native/Django apps up and running even faster and greatly reduces the initial setup time for Django applications.

Crowdbotics uses React Native and Django

Above, we considered a few sensible pairings for frontend and backend frameworks and got some insight into what makes them better. Some platforms use the same language for the frontend and backend. Some offer added advantage and support for specific frameworks. At the same time, some frameworks are simply preferred as a matter of habit!

At Crowdbotics, our stack of choice is React Native and Django, or RAD stack. The primary reason for this is the flexibility it offers. It helps our developers (and yours) to use their creative side efficiently without compromising on quality. It's also very easy to hire React Native and Django developers, since they are popular frameworks.

Read our previous blog about RAD stack here for more information. And if you are looking to build an application using Django and React Native, we recommend contacting one of our Crowdbotics experts for a comprehensive quote.