Becoming a full stack developer is not an easy path. As defined by Hackernoon, a full stack developer is a developer who has mastered a plethora of skills and technologies in front end and back end development. They utilise these skills to independently or conjointly complete various front-end or back-end tasks.
According to the 2019 Developer Survey by Stack Overflow, about 50% of their survey respondents identify as full stack developers. For years, it has been considered as one of the most popular occupations in tech.
Full stack developers are highly valued because they are able to work on both sides and understand the whole process of building an application. In this article, we'll discuss the things you need to learn to get started on becoming a full stack developer.
HTML and CSS
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When it comes to becoming a full stack developer, HTML and CSS are considered as the fundamental languages every developer must know and master. In fact, almost every curriculum about web development, both online courses and person-to-person mentoring, starts with HTML and CSS.
Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is a markup expression that describes the structure of the website, while Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a language that defines the style and presentation of the HTML site. In comparison to other languages, HTML and CSS are the easiest to learn―anyone can master it.
To help you get started, here are the fundamentals of HTML and CSS that you should learn:
- Semantic HTML - It reinforces the meaning of the information instead of just defining its presentation.
- CSS Box Model - Essentially, it's a container that consists of a variety of properties from borders to the very content itself. It's best to familiarise yourself with its distinctive traits and principles.
- CSS Preprocessors and their benefits - These are the key ingredients or must-haves for CSS development. They augment CSS with variables, functions and other useful assets.
- CSS Media Queries - These are a popular technique for presenting tailored style sheets for different media types such as desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones.
- Bootstrap - It is a toolkit used for developing websites with HTML and CSS. It helps in designing and laying out the content on a specific page. While a lot of online programs and in-person teaching settings focus on teaching Bootstrap, it's still equally important to master the fundamentals of CSS.
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- Understand what promises, asynchronous control flow, and callbacks are.
- Learn at least one popular framework.
- Deepen your know-how with testing frameworks and why they're important.
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It's important to note that even though online programs and coding boot camps focus on one back-end language, it's still advisable to be familiar and at least know how to use other back-end languages. In reality, whichever back-end language you master, what's important is that you understand the concept and are intimate with the nuances of the language you're going to use.
These are some of the top back-end programming languages which can be great starting points for you on becoming a full stack developer:
- Ruby is a general-purpose programming language. A lot of online courses teach Ruby as a first back-end language. Some of the popular frameworks paired with Ruby are Rails and Sinatra. Rails is a framework that provides structure for code written in Ruby. On the other hand, Sinatra is an open-source software web app library and is a domain-specific language, which means that it's specialised to a particular app domain.
- Python is an object-oriented programming language that has dynamic semantics and clear syntax. The language is simple enough to be easily learned. Its syntax emphasises readability, which ultimately saves up time and costs for program maintenance.
- Java is an object-oriented programming language that is still very in-demand. It's designed for use in the distributed environment of the internet―meaning it's shared amongst multiple systems.
- Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) is a general-purpose, server-side scripting language used for web development. It's primarily used to develop static websites, dynamic websites, and web apps.
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Databases and Storage
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When learning how to build web applications, data storage is part and parcel of it. Here are key topics about databases and storage that can help you get started:
- How to connect databases with your chosen back-end language.
- Web storage that store session, cached data, and cookies in the browser.
- Benefits of in-memory data stores as well as the benefits of relational data.
- NoSQL databases - relational databases that allow apps to store data through standard data modelling and query language.
- How to scale databases.
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HTTP and REST
The HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is an application protocol that allows clients and servers to maintain their connection. It defines how messages are formatted and transmitted, and dictates what actions the web servers should take in response to their commands.
On the other hand, Representational State Transfer (REST) is an architectural style that provides standards between computer systems on the web. This makes things easier for systems to communicate with each other.
Here are key subjects about HTTP and REST that you can start with:
- Fundamentals of REST.
- Importance of REST to the HTTP protocol and web applications.
- Best practices in designing RESTful APIs.
- How to use Chrome DevTools.
- SSL Certificates.
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Especially when creating complex web applications, learning about the technologies needed for front end and back end is not enough when becoming a full stack developer. It's essential for you to know how to structure your code, how to structure the data in your database, and where to host your large media files to name a few.
To learn more about web architecture, here are some suggested topics you can start focusing on:
- Performance optimisation for application and modern browsers.
- Common platforms as a service (PaaS).
- Model-View-Controller (MVC), which is an architectural pattern that separates an application into three main logical components. Each of these components is built to handle specific aspects of an application.
- Designing web applications by Microsoft.
- Opinions and insights on what a web app architecture should have.
- Codebases of popular projects done by senior developers.
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Git is the most well-known open-source version control system. It allows developers who are working as a team to keep track of all the changes being made to their project's codebase. Understanding how it works will ultimately help you efficiently cooperate with other developers working on the same project.
One good way to start familiarising yourself with Git is to learn the list of Git commands and to take note of those which you are most likely to use.
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The technologies listed here are just the basics that will help you get started on becoming a full stack developer. However, it's important to note that technologies continually evolve and improve, so you must stay up-to-date with the latest technologies and trends to stay competitive and relevant in the industry.
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