Choosing the elements that make up your SaaS tech stack is a time-consuming task. Even once decided, it can change and grow over time. In this article, we give you a basic review of the different parts and components you may wish to consider. It includes tech stack suggestions for SaaS development in 2022. This article is meant for those starting out or anyone looking for inspiration or ideas for what to include in their SaaS tech stack. We’ve also taken insights from several SaaS companies we work with, on what are currently the most popular development frameworks. This article is meant for those starting out or if you’re looking for inspiration or ideas when reevaluating your SaaS tech stack.
What is a Software Development Tech Stack?
A tech stack is all of the technology a company needs in order to build and maintain its software product. Tech stacks are comprised of programming languages, frameworks, front and back-end tools, a database, and other applications.
Why is Your Tech Stack Important?
Making the right choices when building your tech stack is important because it influences many aspects of your company, current, and future. It influences your efficiency, what kind of products you’ll be able to build, and more. It may also determine which types of developers you’re able to attract and hire.
Make sure to have your priorities clear. There are positives and negatives to each of them so choosing all the parts can be a time-consuming task. The key is finding the stack that meets all your needs now and in the future as your company evolves. Limiting yourself to tools that won’t allow you to scale, or at least scale easily, can be a setback in the future. It may also be a preference to pick a modern stack that you know won’t become dated in the coming years.
Other business tools like product analytics tools will help you understand how your current product is performing. These tools help you in making decisions on how to improve and where to focus your money and energy. Check out our article to see which top SaaS metrics you should keep an eye on.
The front-end can be understood as the part of the software that the customer sees and interacts with. Think of it as a storefront. Your user can see and engage with your product. I’ll assume you already have an insight into programming languages, but we’ll start with the fundamentals. For most projects, these 3 main languages are needed to make the front-end functional.
HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)
This is used by developers to determine the final content structure on a web page. This includes video and audio structure.
Framework examples: vue.js, Bootstrap
CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)
CSS helps to style the written HTML document into a desirable state. Essentially, it is what gives the content a certain look.
Framework examples: Bootstrap, Bulma
Framework examples: vue.js, react.js
Front-end frameworks are set packages with standardized, prewritten code in files and folders. They help save developers time, as the framework serves as a base with working, pretested code to start building an app, while also allowing developers to change the final design.
Vue.js is a beginner-friendly front-end framework. It is small and fast and has detailed documentation and simple syntax. One of the main drawbacks is the language barrier at times as there is a lot of Chinese content. However, Vue has a very supportive community.
React is one of the most popular front-end frameworks. Facebook backs this JS library, and you can use it for developing user interfaces and components. It also has reusable code components, among other advantages. It is great but lacks well-elaborated documentation.
Ruby is a high-level, general-purpose programming language that was created with programming simplicity and productivity in mind. It is great for many projects, in particular, database-driven web applications when used with Ruby on Rails.
Frameworks: Ruby on rails
Python is a general-purpose programming language. For this reason, it is great to use because you can use Python for a wide range of things. It is ideal for both small and large-scale projects, making it a good option for scalability. Some of your favourite web apps are built on Python, including Netflix, Spotify, and Instagram.
Frameworks: Django, Flask
Frameworks: NodeJS, MeteorJS, ExpressJS
Backend frameworks are the libraries of server-side languages that help to create the backend structure of a website. These provide ready-made components to develop a comprehensive website or web application.
Ruby on Rails
Ruby on Rails is a model–view–controller framework. Written in Ruby, it helps developers to build database-backed web applications. It is best for creating technically complex web projects.
Django is a high-level Python web framework that allows developers to rapidly create maintainable and secure websites. Having been around for a long time, it is reliable and has a large, loyal contributing community. It is great for creating CRMs.
Node.js has an easy learning curve and promotes scalability. Additionally, it allows for building applications that can grow with your business easily. Common uses for Node.js include traditional websites, as the backend for social media networking, or even chat applications.
Transpile & Compile Languages
Also known as a source-to-source compiler or a transcompiler, transpiler languages are programs that translate a source code from one language to another. This is done at the same level of abstraction. This diversifies them from a compiler, which has a lower output than its input. The language used for input may be a superset of the output language. This means that whatever code you write in the output language is also valid for the input language. Here are two examples.
A server helps facilitate communication between the user and the application. It is where a developer can write code and integrate and deploy applications safely. Developers need to consider three main things when choosing their servers: cost, functionality, and scalability. Two very common examples of servers include Apache and Nginx. Others include Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services, which SaaS companies often use.
A database, simply put, is a collection of information (data) that is stored and organized in one place. You will need to assess the needs of your SaaS to determine what database will work best for you now and in the future. Another point to consider is whether you want to use a relational or non-relational database. Some popular choices include MySQL, PostgreSQL, and MongoDB.
Utilities and Business Tools
There are lots more business tools and utilities that can range from Google Analytics to Docusign. Depending on your SaaS, you will need to consider which ones will be most helpful and the costs as well. Many unicorn companies have developed their own utilities and/or business tools to better fit their specific needs. For example, Uber has developed their own tools and utilities for mapping, development processes, data and performance analysis, QA, and QC. Obviously, that may not be a viable option when you are starting out, so make sure you do your research to find the business tools and utilities that will best suit your needs.
Did we miss anything?
The stack we have included here represents those used by modern SaaS preferences in 2022. If we left anything out it may be due to our assessment of current trends in programming. However, if you’d like to recommend anything you think we’ve missed, please reach out!
To conclude, choosing all of the elements in your tech stack is a big challenge and takes considerable time to be able to determine the right components to match both the needs and expectations currently, and for the future. Hopefully, with our tech stack suggestions for SaaS development in 2022, you can better understand the basics of what makes up a SaaS tech stack.