Skip to content

Find your bread and butter stack

Posted on:January 19, 2024

As an engineer, whether you’re part of an organization or a solo independent developer, possessing a familiar, reliable technology stack is invaluable. This usually comprises a versatile programming language, a complementary framework, and a toolkit you’re thoroughly acquainted with. Why is this important?

Firstly, familiarity breeds productivity and efficiency, enabling swift value delivery. With a go-to stack, you can quickly turn ideas into prototypes or dive into the more intriguing aspects of a project, not just in initial stages but also in production. This approach is not only more efficient, but it’s also more enjoyable. While learning new technologies has its charms, constantly encountering obstacles due to unfamiliarity can be frustrating and demotivating.

Much of this boils down to personal preference. Initially, it might seem tempting to follow the latest technological trends, but eventually, you realize these are merely passing fads shaped by others’ choices. It’s preferable to stick with tools you enjoy rather than being swayed by external influences.

While it’s crucial for individuals to develop their own preferred stacks, it’s equally beneficial for organizations to establish standard stacks for similar reasons. However, this doesn’t mean you should shun experimenting with new technologies. Allocating time for exploration is essential; ideally, your primary stack should evolve as you find new tools that better meet your needs.

My own preferred stack has evolved over time. Post-college, I began with Flash, then transitioned to PHP and WordPress. Later, I gravitated towards Python and Django, which has been my mainstay the longest. I also explored Appcelerator for mobile development and eventually ventured into React, Node, and TypeScript. These are just the highlights; I’ve experimented with many others.

Although I’ve dived deeply into some technologies and enjoyed their benefits, I sometimes regret chasing after the latest trends. Recently, I’ve resolved to refine my primary tech stack, focusing on tools like Elixir, Phoenix, and Flutter. However, I’m cautious about repeating past mistakes.

How does one choose their stack? It largely depends on personal preferences, as I’ve mentioned. You might opt for platforms with extensive ecosystems and communities, but don’t overlook your existing skills, workplace context, and supportive networks that can facilitate learning and proficiency. Your choice should also align with the nature of your work. My focus on web, app, and distributed systems development heavily influences my selections.

Finally, it’s prudent to choose technologies with staying power. As Nassim Nicholas Taleb often points out, the best indicator of longevity is age. So, if in doubt, lean towards more established technologies rather than the newest ones.