Why Startups and New, Popular Tech Stacks Shouldn’t Go Hand in Hand

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Recently, I have had a number of conversations with companies and developers that have taken over a flailing project just to become extremely frustrated by the previously popular tech stacks that were used to create the product they are now trying to save.

This is an age-old problem in the software community. Software developers tend to be curious, and want to try out the newest, most popular tech stacks to grow, learn, and become more efficient. The reasoning behind choosing a cutting-edge technology is typically well-intentioned. 

Except, most new, popular tech stacks that gain a lot of attention in the developer world end up dying or being replaced by something else. Look at the JavaScript community — I can’t count how many frameworks currently exist and/or have been replaced by other technologies extremely quickly. The problem with this is that you get libraries or frameworks that are unsupported, unreliable, and can’t grow with the needs of your organization or users.

What to Look for When Choosing a Technology

The main issue with choosing a new, popular tech stack, or one without a real built out community, is that the reason for choosing it is typically misaligned with the needs of the business. A business needs a technology that is:

  • Stable. Users have very little patience for a product that is not predictively up and running 99.9% of the time. Choosing a technology that isn’t proven to be consistently dependable, regardless of its proposed benefits, is a huge risk.
  • Scalable. A system may be considered scalable if it can adapt to the changing needs or patterns of its users. It is often a sign of competitiveness because a scalable network or system is ready to handle increased demand, trends, and needs, even with the emergence of new competitors.
  • Broadly Supported. Being supported by a large development community means that the creators of the technology stand by it and are listening to its users. They will have forums answering common questions and an engaged community. In fact, one of Flatirons’ main reasons for passing on jobs is that the company requires experience with a fringe technology.
  • Well-Documented. A technology that is well documented will inevitably save Development a lot of time and frustration.
  • Commercially Adopted. A technology that is commercially adopted by large and reputable companies shows that it is potentially all of the above. While it may be boring, it’s trusted by organizations with millions of dollars on the line. There is a big difference between trendy and popular, and commercially adopted and widely used.

Why New and Popular (aka “Trendy”) May Be A Disadvantage

What I can guarantee you, is that none of the qualities that a business is looking for in a tech stack include:

  • A lack of documentation on how to build things
  • A lack of developers that have working knowledge of the technologies you chose
  • A lack of overall stability and production applications using it
  • A high risk of replacement

What Tech Stack Solves Your Customer’s Problem?

When approaching a problem, Flatirons Development chooses proven technologies that are backed by large companies and hits the criteria above. This is baked into our culture and development process.

The next time that you think you might be taking on a new, popular technology as a startup, I caution you to think twice. Now is the time to learn about your customers, not to dig through the weeds of an unknown software stack.

Experiment With New, Popular Tech Stacks Behind the Scenes

On a final note, I’m not telling you to never experiment with new tech. At Flatirons Development, we reserve experimental technologies for internal projects and research. We just don’t implement them in customer software until they are production ready and have a large support community. We stay on top of new developing tech so we know when it’s ready and safe for your tech stack.