The ideal backend language to write web apps in 2023?
I know quite a controversial and opinionated question, one that might easily get blasted with downvotes on a site like StackOverflow or even Reddit! Nevertheless, one which I believe is still...
I know quite a controversial and opinionated question, one that might easily get blasted with downvotes on a site like StackOverflow or even Reddit! Nevertheless, one which I believe is still relevant to ask and useful one even in 2023.
The problem with backend web technologies is that we are overwhelmed with choices. Whilst getting spoilt with choices seems like a useful thing sometimes, it might easily be an impediment in decision making too. Based on my experience, there are a bunch of useful stacks and I will work on any of them if you pay me to work as a freelance coder. Each has its own pros and cons but I'm yet to find the ideal one which according to me is something that should be easy to code and deploy while also better performing at the same time.
- ASP.NET: C# is the language I started coding web apps with in my last company and ASP.NET web forms was quite the rage back then. PHP was also gaining traction in the open source world and the webdev was mostly divided between the Enterprisey .NET aristocrats of Microsoft world and the poor PHP peasants of the FOSS world! One good thing about ASP.NET was performance. Since MS controlled the whole stack, they also put great efforts at making it work faster. The bad thing, of course, was dependence on a closed tech stack and a closed black box that generated JS functionality on its own.
- PHP: When I resigned from that company and started freelancing, I came to know about open source, linux, XAMPP, etc. That was when I realized that my own attitudes and thinking was more attuned to the FOSS peasant mindset than the wealthy aristocrat's! I didn't earn quite as much in freelancing with WP, Drupal, SuiteCRM, CodeIgniter, etc. but I found great happiness and contentment in being part of the open source process. Till date, PHP remains my favorite language for backend development and most of my web projects involve CodeIgniter or even pure PHP.
- Python: Flask is what got me interested in Python web development. The sheer minimalism and flexibility of that framework is what I found quite remarkable and quite a rarity in the frameworks world. And jinja2 template system was just fantastic. The other framework called django is more popular I think and I've worked on that too but Flask still remains my favorite. Flask is good in performance dept. too but I think it gets tricky once you start scaling with too many users.
- Java: I've never really bothered with Java web development except a few tutorial experiments on the Apache TomEE server. The multi-layered approach that Java takes not only has very steep learning curve but unless you're a very gifted programmer, it's practically impossible to beat the performance of interpreted PHP/Flask!
- NodeJS: Again, not much work here except brief hobby projects like http-live-simulator. The npm packaging system really turned me off initially with so many packages and issues with that system in the earlier days. Nowadays, I've heard that it's much usable but I've never gotten into it.
And now, we also have the evolving languages like Golang, Rust, etc. taking their baby steps towards web development too! Are any of them worth giving a try? If someone were to ask you for a backend tech stack recommendation while giving equal weightage to performance, developer productivity and ease of deployment, which one will you suggest?