When you’re starting out, going to university or starting to work in your first full-time job, you feel like you can handle anything. You want to be a good developer, so you want to go full stack.
What’s that exactly? Well, bring together all the books relevant to information technology and bundle them together. That tower of information is what you’d call a full stack 😉
So, once you realize that, ambitious as you are, you know deep down that it’s probably a pipe dream. Or is it?
Web development is easy. Full stack isn’t.
Entering the web development industry is a relatively easy task today, but riding the information technology wave as a full stack developer is not everyone’s cup of tea.
In fact, many even call it a myth!
In an ever dynamic work environment, with too many new technologies being released too quickly, the task does sound rather daunting, if not impossible.
Being a full-stack developer requires you to know about all the front-end technologies and all the back-end technologies.
It would demand you to know all programming languages. Or at least the most used ones.
You need to be good at working with everything, ranging from databases to user interfaces and the stuff in between. But is that even possible? Is it unrealistic to expect someone to be good at everything? Will the client still need different experts for that one project?
And here are some tips and tricks to get you there – at the ultimate destination of being a full-stack developer.
Tip 1: Find your niche.
Most pursuits for success begin with not knowing where you want to be.
True. You may argue, full stack is about learning it all.
But that’s where you’re mistaken. Full stack means identifying where you want to excel and then creating the path that gets you there.
First: identify business and customer needs.
And second: Decide your area of focus.
Tip 2: One language, not all.
With your focus in place, you next need to zoom in on the technologies you’re your stack will need.
Here too, most developers try to learn all that they can. Doing that is not only overwhelming but given the kind of technology range available out there, it’s close to impossible.
What you need to do then, is to focus on learning a few important technologies. For example, you needn’t worry if you don’t know all the general-purpose programming languages. You can choose to learn either Python, Ruby, PHP or the others.
Make sure to check out this great article about the best programming languages you can learn in 2015.
Tip 3: Iron out the kinks
Now, this is something we’ve been learning since the days we went to school. When you’re clear on your fundamentals all else becomes easy.
To know how good you are, test your skills by creating basic pages.
Your knowledge about servers, networks, hosting environments, algorithms, data structures, programming languages, and databases should be absolutely clear before you move up your stack.
And most importantly, you should be able to create the link between each piece of the puzzle.
It’s not about knowing single pieces of information, it’s about connecting the dots.
Tip 4: Jack of all trades, king of one
As you expand your knowledge, you will quickly learn that it’s difficult to gain expertise in all that you do.
Don’t give up. In fact, this is where most developers fail, trying to master too much.
What you need to do is become comfortable with working with all the important technologies.
That comfort level will improve with practical experience. And while you’re doing that, make one technology your main focus. This will provide you with an edge over your competitors and allow you to deliver some amazing results. Choose wisely, though, your specialty should align with what your clients need most.
Tip 5: Taking a Course
Even if you’ve prepared properly, you’ll need to be ready to learn new things on demand.
Basically, you need to be prepared to learn anything and everything that comes your way. To do this, consider taking up an online course.
Steer clear from courses that are too expensive and promise to take you from zero to the top in a matter of hours!
Opt for courses that have a good mentoring background, suit your schedule and come with coding projects and one on one or group-based tutoring sessions that allow you to learn quickly and get hands on experience as well.
Tip 6: Building a network
The best way to stay relevant in the market is to stay up to date. Heck, it’s the only way. For this, build a network of peers online.
There are many options to join a community. Social media sites, online forums, chat rooms and groups offer a great way to do so.
These networks link you up with people sharing similar interests. Moreover, such platforms give you instant access to different ways of thinking and advice too.
Tip 7: Make something on your own
It’s finally all about creating a good quality product, an easy to use end-user experience and great functionality.
As a full stack expert, the diversions with so much technology can be tempting. But it is important not to lose focus on what your end product should look like.
You must be able to see, feel and experience your end product. You must be able to build it securely. It must serve the purpose it was conceptualized for. And when you have such focus, working towards it becomes much easier and much faster.
Build something on your own. Learn about building something with a specific purpose in mind. In any case, it can always function as something you can show off.
Wrapping it up.
The path to becoming a full stack developer will take time. It’s not only about learning various front-end and backend technologies. It’s also about understanding those two areas in more detail and making communication between those two areas easy and smooth. So you need to have plenty of patience to get there. You also need to be eager to learn, and there is a lot to learn.
So if you’re the kind of person who enjoys reading software & web development blogs (Well, you’re here for one!) becoming a full stack developer is an easier process. The dynamics of the market are ever changing, and you never know what technology you’ll be implementing next.
So be persistent and don’t lose focus. They say that the fastest way to learn something is to enjoy it. Have fun with what you do and you’ll get there.
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— Usersnap (@usersnap) September 29, 2015
PS: Usersnap is currently hiring & we’re looking for full stack developers!
Bonus tip: Visual user testing & bug reporting with Usersnap
I know, I just talked about the best tips for becoming a full stack developer in 2017. Last but not least, I wanted to give you a heads-up on Usersnap, which is our very own visual user feedback and bug tracking tool, used by companies like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft.
Get great user feedback in 2017 with a free Usersnap trial.