Why selecting correct programming language, frameworks and libraries are critical for Great application

Sebastian Wcisło - Quality Assurance Specialist

What’s the recipe for successful software development? The list of ingredients isn’t long: a solid business concept, a skilled team, a good process - and the right tech stack. Choosing the right programming language, frameworks and libraries for your project is absolutely crucial. Let’s take a look at the criteria we use at iRonin.IT.

Why choosing the right technologies for building your app matters?

There are many criteria to consider when determining what tech stack will be best for a project. Sometimes, it’s all about the business side - development speed and the cost of work can be major factors. But aside from these aspects, a good synergy between technology and business brings a number of important benefits.

Correctly selecting the programming language, frameworks and libraries can reduce issues with implementing non-standard business logic. Potential problems include:

  • Libraries conflicts - libraries that are needed to meet the requirements cannot work simultaneously,
  • Frameworks that do not support necessary features,
  • Overkill - a small and simple project using a very sophisticated framework that requires more server resources than a more appropriate framework would.

Importantly, it’s often very difficult or even impossible to change the framework if the application is partially done - at least not without rewriting everything. It’s easy to imagine wrong choices leading to technological debt, missed deadlines, monetary losses, or even total failure.

Picking the right programming language

The first step is determining what type of app you want to build. Some languages are highly specialized. For example, Ruby is most often chose for web applications and prototyping, while Python is great for heavy calculations used in machine learning. To build Android apps, you need Java or Kotlin, and for iOS apps your choices include Swift and Objective-C. If you’re looking to build a hybrid or cross-platform app, you might go with React Native instead.

Next, you need to know what the ultimate business goal are for the project. Is it meant to scale up and handle huge traffic one day? Then you’d better choose a language that’s easy to read and maintain as time passes, like Ruby or Python. If all you need is a simple landing page, PHP and Wordpress may be all you need. But if you want to build an ecommerce platform, they won’t be enough.

Is your app meant to last for years? Remember that the popularity of programming languages comes and goes, and experts may become difficult to find. Look for a stable technology with a robust community that’s passed the test of time, and you should be fine. If you decide to go with a recently introduced option, you might find that no one wants to use it after a few years. Additionally, languages need constant support for their creators to match new technological developments and answer security risks.

Performance is a big consideration, too. Do you need your app to quickly deal with large volumes of data? Then you might want to pick Python. It’s also good to remember that some languages can do more with less, while others need a powerful hosting environment to deliver good results. You need to take this into consideration, as it will affect your monthly budget for the foreseeable future.

Tying into speed, time to market can matter hugely, especially for startups and projects with a small budget. When your goal is to fill a niche before your competition can do it, go with Ruby, which is excellent for rapid development.

Integrations with third party tools and environments can be very important for a project, and not all languages can help you achieve them efficiently (or at all). This is especially true if your app requires unusual hardware, or will need to handle a large number of software integrations.

An important thing to think about are licensing costs. Some languages, like .NET, force you to get a license before you can use them for your project. Others, like Python or JavaScript, are fully open source. Determine what your company can afford, and whether the cost is worth it.

Finally, think about security. If you’re from a highly regulated industry, like fintech or healthcare, focus on tried and true solutions.

Languages appropriate for specific types of apps

App type Recommended programming languages
Web application JavaScript, Ruby, Python
Mobile application Swift, Java, JavaScript, Objective-C
Hybrid application React Native
Analytics, machine learning & Big Data Python, R, Clojure, Scala
Data visualization Python, R

Using the most appropriate frameworks

It’s easier to decide on the right framework than on the right programming language, because frameworks have a more specific purpose. Django, a Python framework, is used for web development, similarly to Ruby on Rails. On the other hand, Pandas (another Python framework) is made for Big Data projects.

Sometimes, though, the situation isn’t so clear. For example, Node.js comes with a number of frameworks that are very similar at first glance. Both Express and Koa are recommended for smaller apps or microservices, while Sails is used by corporations lie Microsoft, Dell and Verizon.

Your best option here may be leveraging the expertise of a trusted technology partner. Development experts who regularly work on commercial projects have a very good grasp of which frameworks are appropriate for what situation, whether they’ll meet your security and performance requirements, and which won’t become a problem after several years.

Another important consideration is completeness - that is, whether the framework comes with all the features you need already built-in, or whether your team will need to work on multiple custom solutions. The latter is better for flexibility, the former for speed. Additionally, a less complete framework may be better for future scaling and feature extension.

You should also make sure you’ll be able to find the right team with the right set of tools to use the framework effectively. Is the framework popular, or at least easy to learn? Does it offer built-in templating. What about IDE support or community extensions? Or automated tools and tests? All of these things can have a huge impact on team productivity and, consequently, on the project’s success.

Finally, consider performance. Look at how the framework is loaded - does it optimize runtime compilations of dependencies? What happens to code that’s not being currently used? Does the framework offer server-side rendering?

Choosing the best libraries for your app

Our rule of thumb is to choose technologies that meet business needs. It would be easy to fall into the trap of picking the newest and shiniest option otherwise, but maturity tends to hold more value. Additionally, just like with frameworks, libraries offer different levels of performance.

You should also know when not to use a library and develop your own solution instead. Remember, each library and framework is a dependency. If it stops being supported by its creators and the community, you might be in big trouble. Dependencies can be scarily effective at wreaking large-scale havoc - such as when web development around the world was disrupted by the deletion of only 11 lines of code.

Additionally, some languages and runtime environments offer all or almost all the features you need. In these cases, it might be better to go with a micro-library or a utility, which won’t consume as many resources and should be easier to implement.

Again, make sure to consult your situation with your team and/or technology partner. Experience always trumps the promises made on a library’s website.

Having trouble deciding on the right tech stack for your project? iRonin.IT’s experts offer deep commercial experience and knowledge of recent industry trends.
Tell us about your business needs, and we’ll find the right solution for you?


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Author's Bio
Sebastian Wcisło

Quality Assurance Specialist

A detail-oriented person who works closely with designers and developers to deliver the best quality products. Passionate about finding defects and improvements. Love Ruby as a programming language and as a base for automated tests. Formula 1 fan. Likes to try new kinds of foods. Pizza addict.

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