Now may be the best time to become a full-stack developer

In the world of software development, one term you’re sure to hear a lot of is full-stack development. Job recruiters are constantly posting open positions for full-stack developers and the industry is abuzz with this in-demand title.

But what does full-stack actually mean?

Simply put, it’s the development on the client-side (front end) and the server-side (back end) of software. Full-stack developers are jacks of all trades as they work with the design aspect of software the client interacts with as well as the coding and structuring of the server end.

In a time when technological requirements are rapidly evolving and companies may not be able to afford a full team of developers, software developers that know both the front end and back end are essential.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the ability to do full-stack development can make engineers extremely marketable as companies across all industries migrate their businesses to a virtual world. Those who can quickly develop and deliver software projects thanks to full-stack methods have the best shot to be at the top of a company’s or client’s wish list.

Becoming a full-stack developer

So how can you become a full-stack engineer and what are the expectations? In most working environments, you won’t be expected to have absolute expertise on every single platform or language. However, it will be presumed that you know enough to understand and can solve problems on both ends of software development.

Most commonly, full-stack developers are familiar with HTML, CSS, JavaScript and back-end languages like Ruby, PHP or Python. This matches up with the expectations of new hires as well, as you’ll notice a lot of openings for full-stack developer jobs require specialization in more than one back-end program.

Full-stack is becoming the default way to develop, so much so that some in the software engineering community argue whether or not the term is redundant. As the lines between the front end and back end blur with evolving tech, developers are now expected to work more frequently on all aspects of the software. However, developers will likely have one specialty where they excel while being good in other areas and a novice at some things… and that’s OK.

Getting into full-stack, though, means you should concentrate on finding your niche within the particular front-end and back-end programs you want to work with. One practical and common approach is to learn JavaScript because it covers both front and back-end capabilities. You’ll also want to get comfortable with databases, version control and security. In addition, it’s smart to prioritize design, as you’ll be working on the client-facing side of things.

Because full-stack developers can communicate with each side of a development team, they’re invaluable to saving time and avoiding confusion on a project.

One common argument against full stack is that, in theory, developers who can do everything may not do one thing at an expert level. But there’s no hard or fast rule saying you can’t be a master at coding and also learn front-end techniques, or vice versa.

Choosing between full-stack and DevOps

One hold up you may have before diving into full-stack is you’re also mulling over the option to become a DevOps engineer. There are certainly similarities among both professions, including good salaries and the ultimate goal of producing software as quickly as possible without errors. As with full-stack developers, DevOps engineers are also becoming more in demand because of the flexibility they offer a company.

DevOps combines software development and IT solutions to give the client an all-in-one experience while simultaneously facilitating the development and delivery processes. This makes software creation much faster and more efficient.

A DevOps project can sometimes cross over with full-stack and can even require a team of full-stack developers to help cover a team’s bases with different programming languages.

Those who prefer working in more defined roles and on more centralized teams will probably be better suited for full-stack, whereas DevOps does not utilize sprints or schedules that its engineers have to adhere to, allowing for more independence and also more responsibilities.

At the end of the day, web developers are now expected to do more than just build software — the demand is also to deploy it.

As technology gets more complex, as more languages and platforms enter the market, it becomes a bit unrealistic to expect that one developer can master both full-stack and DevOps. That’s why you’ll have to weigh your options before fully committing to a career of full-stack development.

Why full-stack has never been more important

Virtual growth has been forced upon many different industries that now have no choice but to grow out of their software capabilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A recent TrustRadius survey found the fastest growing software categories in terms of increased traffic include telemedicine, web conferencing and live chat. Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams have become household names since March, showing the meteoric rise when companies need to answer rapidly changing demands.

In this new world where places of business are more dependent than ever on their technological and internet capacities, the full-stack engineer is asked to step up to provide virtual solutions with rapid turnaround times.

Long gone are the days where developers were able to take their time and build out their portion of the project on the back-end while a designer or front-end developer dealt with the client. Shrinking budgets and shortened timelines have put a premium on single developers who can see the entire project from beginning to end.

Full-stack development is certainly not the only solution for companies right now, but it does allow them to quickly develop software without having to hire extra engineers.

Clients have one main worry in 2020: Security

Because you’ll likely be on the front end dealing with clients, you’ll also need to be able to deal with security requirements since users are looking to solve this issue without possibly understanding the entirety of the challenges. As long as users depend on computers for work, leisure and demand increases, which is clearly the case, cybersecurity will continue to be a growing concern. The pandemic has led to an estimated 4,000 cyberattacks per day, according to MonsterCloud’s security service.

If you think you’re up for becoming a full-stack developer, remember that our virtualized world in 2020 requires you to maintain a wealth of programming knowledge and the ability to provide fast solutions.

The future of software development

While people continue to depend on technology to work from home, communicate, access entertainment, attain services and live their daily lives, the need for developers who can do a bit of everything is on the rise.

If you have a knack for developing and you’re looking to improve your resume, get comfortable with both front-end and back-end programs to the point where you can become a full-stack developer. You may not have full knowledge, skills and understanding of everything immediately, but you’ll position yourself at the forefront of the world’s software development needs right off the bat.