The Programming Language You Should Use For Your Startup
Every startup answers 3 questions when they form — what is our name, what are we building, and what are we going to build it with. Choosing the right programming languages and frameworks is essential for startups and is the most important technical decision you will make at any stage.
This article will serve as a reference for both non-technical and technical co-founders for being familiar with the options for your startup and ensure you are making the best decision.
Choosing the right programming language requires understanding the tradeoffs. When making a decision, you should consider 5 factors:
- Product development speed — How quickly can you build your product and launch features.
- Ability to hire — You need to have a large pool of candidates as well as providing a tech stack that developers are excited to work with.
- Stability — The chosen libraries should be well maintained and mature enough to have confidence that they will be around for the life of your startup.
- Scalability — Your code must be able to handle the growth in users as well as increasing complexity in the code base itself.
- Resources to learn the language — You need to ensure there are plenty of resources and tutorials to learn to code.
Your tech stack will consist of the frontend and the backend. The frontend is the UI for web applications and how users interact with the product. It calls APIs and receives data that is served from the backend where the business logic is contained.
Choosing Your Frontend Framework
When comparing these frameworks, they are effectively equal in terms of scalability and stability. React is backed by Facebook, Angular is backed by Google, and Vue has massive open source community of developers behind it. They all have plenty of resources to learn, but the slight edge goes to React as it’s been the leader for longer and is the current choice for many new web developers.
The product development speed of them varies. Angular is quick to get started because it is very opinionated, but there are some complaints of things slowing down as the code grows. The code is dense is and difficult to reason about. React and Vue is thin libraries which means the developer must make more upfront decisions which present a long time to begin coding. However, if the decisions are made correctly, React and Vue is lighting fast to iterate with.
React revolutionized web development and has remained the leader since. It works for early starts and can scale to massive tech giants, including Facebook, Netflix, Airbnb, Uber, and many more. Developers that have used React love it and those that haven’t tried it are excited to learn it. Of the three options, React offers the best opportunity to hire talent, giving it the edge as the best choice for your startup. Angular still has developers that despise it, and Vue is still pacing too far behind in professional adoption.
Choosing Your Backend Language
The backend, or server, is where the logic of the application is contained. It interacts with the database and exposes API endpoints to be consumed by your web application and mobile apps. It is focused on reading, writing, and transforming data.
Modern backend architectures use the microservice concept which structures the application as loosely connected servers, each with a specific function. Previously servers had been built as monoliths where a single codebase managed all the logic. This yielded considerable tech debt and was a nightmare for developers. While there are special cases for any language (ie. Discord using Elixir), this analysis will assume you will be building standard microservice architecture for your application.
Go is known for being the best language in terms of its tradeoff for performance and usability. It is blazing fast to execute but also incredibly easy to learn and write. Go has become the preferred microservice language of companies such as Reddit and Uber, allowing them to scale to thousands of concurrent users.
Winner (late stage): Go
Choosing the tech stack for a startup can be stressful — it feels like the entire weight of the company falls on this decision. However, we have an incredible amount of evidence in the market to show what works well in new startups and at scale. If you are a non-technical founder, use this guide as a quick reference for technical decisions and feel confident that your team is making a solid choice.
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