What is full stack development?

Full stack development is the process of developing both the frontend and backend of applications. Any application has a frontend (user-facing) component and a backend (database and logic) component. The frontend contains the user interface and code related to user interactions with the application. The backend contains all the code required for the application to run, including integrations with data systems, communicating with other applications, and processing data.

Software developers require slightly different skills, tools, and software knowledge for frontend and backend development. However, full-stack development combines both disciplines—meaning teams can build applications from start to finish in an integrated and cohesive manner. A full-stack application is a software application that encompasses both frontend and backend in a single code base. 

What are the benefits of full-stack development?

Organizations adopting full-stack development strategies experience the following benefits.

Efficient resource utilization

Traditional setups require separate developers for frontend, backend, database management, and sometimes even for server operations. Full-stack developers are adept at handling multiple aspects of a project, from user interface design to server-side scripting and database management. This significantly reduces the number of specialized roles that an organization needs to fill, making project management simpler and more streamlined. A full-stack developer can communicate with both frontend and backend web development teams to organize and manage client software development. Fewer developers often translates to easier coordination among team members, simplified management structures, and a unified project vision. 

Flexibility and speed

Full-stack developers have the skills to create minimum viable products (MVPs) at a much faster rate, given their ability to handle all layers of application development. This is particularly beneficial in agile or lean development frameworks where rapid iteration is key. The ability to make frontend and backend changes simultaneously reduces time to market, allowing organizations to adapt to market needs and capitalize on business opportunities ahead of competitors.

Enhanced problem-solving

The ability to identify problems across a project is enhanced when you have full-stack developers on board. Their comprehensive understanding of the system architecture and multiple coding languages enables them to identify bottlenecks, conflicts, or inefficiencies that specialized developers might miss. They can also switch easily between frontend and backend development, providing flexibility in resource allocation—this is particularly useful during emergencies.

What are the technologies used in full-stack development?

The technologies that a full-stack developer uses will change depending on the focus area. Below are the differences between frontend and backend technologies.

Frontend technology

Frontend technology (or client software) focuses on the client-facing side of development. You code any parts of the graphical user interface (GUI) or the features that users interact with using frontend technology.

The most common frontend languages are:

  • Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)
  • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
  • JavaScript

HTML allows you to structure web pages and the content on them. You use CSS to style the content, creating more comprehensive layouts or structures. Finally, JavaScript lets you add interactive features to a webpage, creating dynamic content for users.

Backend technology 

Backend technology (or server software) coordinates the exchange of information between the frontend and the server running a webpage. It allows an application to communicate with the main server. The most common backend languages are Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP), Ruby, Java, and Python. However, there are many more programming languages and technologies that can be used for different requirements. 

You can group backend technology into three sub-layers:

API layer

The API layer receives interactions from the frontend and then communicates these to the storage layer. This layer acts as a bridge between the frontend and the backend.

Storage layer

The storage layer manages and stores any application data. It will communicate with databases to write and read data, while providing access to data. A notification layer will send notifications from the frontend to the backend and vice versa. This allows an application to communicate and trigger responses.

Business logic layer

The business logic layer is the main core of the backend. Backend developers configure processing logic in this layer, changing the response a certain API request delivers.

Full-stack developer skills

You must specialize in computer science to become a full-stack developer. Full-stack developers have a high level of competency in both frontend and backend languages. They are skilled in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, NodeJS, ExpressJS, Django, and PHP. Equally, full-stack developers understand various database management systems (DBMS) like MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, and more.

Full-stack web development isn’t just about coding— it also requires a number of soft skills like collaboration, effective communication, planning, and more.

What are full-stack development frameworks?

A framework is a collection of reusable software components that reduces the time it takes to make new applications. It includes resources like code libraries, compilers, debuggers, and APIs. Using frameworks helps to improve code quality, reduce development time, and adhere to software security. Below are some common frameworks you find in full-stack development. The list is not comprehensive—it gives an overview of popular frameworks only.

Ruby on Rails

Ruby on Rails, or Rails, is a web application framework written in Ruby. It popularized many paradigms in the web development world, including Convention over Configuration (CoC) and Don't Repeat Yourself (DRY). Rails is full-stack in the sense that it facilitates both frontend and backend development. It comes bundled with everything you need to build a web application, from routing and controllers to views and database migrations. It provides numerous gems (libraries) to extend its functionality.


Django is a high-level Python web framework that encourages rapid development and clean, pragmatic design. Django follows the batteries-included philosophy and provides almost everything developers might want to do "out of the box." Because it's written in Python, it's easy to integrate with other Python libraries. It’s also a good choice for projects that may involve machine learning, data analysis, and other complex tasks. Django handles much of the configuration itself, allowing developers to focus solely on application development. It's widely used in building robust and scalable web applications.

Spring Boot

Spring Boot is an extension of the Spring framework, aimed at simplifying the initial setup and development process. Written in Java, Spring Boot focuses on building production-ready applications quickly by eliminating much of the boilerplate code and configuration that characterizes Java development. It’s highly flexible and compatible with almost all kinds of application requirements, making it a good fit for building enterprise-level applications.


Laravel is an elegant and well-documented PHP web application framework. It offers a clean, intelligent syntax that focuses on making web development tasks easier and faster. Laravel provides a rich set of functionalities similar to that of Ruby on Rails, including an ORM, routing, caching, and authentication, among others. Its robust collection of libraries and built-in methods accelerate the development and maintenance of web apps.

What are some popular stacks in full-stack development?

A stack is a bundle of several distinct software technologies that a full-stack developer can use concurrently for rapid application development. Every stack typically has an associated operating system, a database server, a programming language, and a web server.

Below are common stacks that you may find in full-stack development.

LAMP stack

Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP make up the LAMP stack. Applications built using LAMP architecture work as follows.

  1. Apache web server receives a request, fulfills it if static, or passes the request to the PHP component if dynamic.
  2. The PHP layer processes the request or retrieves information stored in the connected MySQL database. 
  3. It passes the results to the web server in HTML, storing new data in the MySQL database if needed. 
  4. Apache HTTP sends the dynamic results to the user’s browser.

MEAN stack

The MEAN stack is a LAMP alternative that consists of MongoDB, Express.js, Angular, and Node.js. It is based on Java technologies.

When a user interacts with a MEAN application:

  1. Angular sends the request to the Express.js component. 
  2. The application server retrieves data from the MongoDB database. 
  3. The JSON response then returns to Angular, which renders the response for the user in their browser. 

You can also use a variation of the MEAN stack called MERN, where you substitute Angular.js with React.js. Another variation could be MEVN, which uses Vue.js.

LEMP stack

LEMP uses four open-source technologies—Linux, Nginx, MySQL, and PHP. The Nginx web server receives HTTP requests and forwards them to the PHP component. The PHP backend generates a response, consulting the MySQL database to find or manage data. It then passes the response back to the Nginx web server, which displays it to the user.

How can AWS help with your full-stack development requirements?

AWS Amplify is a complete solution that lets frontend web and mobile developers easily build, ship, and host full-stack applications on AWS—all with the flexibility to utilize the breadth of AWS services as use cases evolve. No cloud expertise is needed. With Amplify, your developers can:

  • Create an AWS backend for your app with data, storage, authentication, and more.
  • Deploy and host reliable and secure websites and server-side rendered apps.
  • Leverage more than 175 AWS services to develop additional use cases, facilitate user growth, and refine DevOps practices.
  • Design frontend UI with Figma and connect your UI to a backend in a matter of seconds.

Get started with full-stack development on AWS by creating an account today!

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