Why Full-Stack Web Development?

In a previous post I discussed SE Factorys’ (one of Beirut’s leading non-profit coding bootcamps) process of identifying high potential students for our program. A good follow-up would be to discuss the reasons why we opted for full-stack web development training as the core of our curriculum.

The Youthful Arrogance

A wise University professor once told me, while the younger version of myself was naively (in retrospect) challenging the adopted Computer Science curriculum by my alma mater[1]:

Our purpose is not to graduate techies, our purpose is to graduate well rounded adults after maximizing their potential to succeed in life[2]

This sentence struck me like thunder. There I was, sitting in this professor’s office boasting about my technical prowess, thinking I had understood the intricacies of adult life and career as software engineer.

Ever since, I changed my perspective and reevaluated my career choices opting for a balance between the narrow, manifesting in the technical aspects, and the grand scheme of things. 10 years later, looking back at what I’ve achieved so far, this outlook has served me well.

This is exactly the frame of mind that I would like my students today to adopt and adapt to the specifics of their lives and careers.

The Wiser Outlook

So how does full-stack[3] web development help achieve the balance between the general and the specific?

The World Wide Web is the backbone of the internet and the catalyst of the modern information age. While numerous technologies have emerged in recent years, namely mobile and IoT devices, the web remains the undisputed common denominator. Mobile games, informative, marketing, utilities, service apps and many other categories, all rely on a somewhat centralized web based back-end to operate at full capacity.

While the clients might vary, the web glues everything together. Whether through the classic 3-tier or the more modern serverless architectures, the fundamentals are, to some large extent, the same. By understanding and building on top of a solid foundation, my students can pivot and specialize in any domain swiftly post their graduation.

Our graduates have been employed as: Front-End, Mobile, Enterprise Back-End, Web Back-End, Firmware and Quality Assurance Automation Developers. They’ve easily adapted to their companies’ technical needs and continue to impress their employers with their unique autonomy in analyzing, researching and building solutions.

We need diversity of thought in the world to face the new challenges — Tim Berners-Lee

Moving Away From Fading Trends

The LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) stack is at the core of SE Factory’s current curriculum (we definitely have plans to expand it in the very near future). We have sampled information from prominent tech companies in the Lebanese market and have found that the LAMP stack (or some variation of it) is still one of the dominating choices for many reasons (research to be published as part of a subsequent post). While Ruby, Python and Node are making an appearance, the demand for developers experienced in these technologies is still low.

SE Factory strives to teach and augment students’ problem solving and solution engineering capacities. My teaching methodology is technology agnostic. Languages, databases, servers and other elements of the existing technology stacks are simply tools which the craftsman employs in the delivery of reliable solutions abiding by modern industry standards.

That is not to say that the chosen stack for the program is the perfect one. In fact, it’s far from it. This one just happens to be the easiest and most familiar to my students. The core values can be taught in any stack and there’s only so much that can be absorbed (to a relatively advanced degree of depth) by a person in 14 weeks.

Students are definitely encouraged to aggressively pursue and keep learning new, emerging technologies of varying degrees of maturity. In fact, I guarantee that through the weekly 2 hour Tech Talk, during which, CTOs and Senior Developers join us to give a talk / workshop about technologies, languages, workflows, professional experience, you name it.

What’s next?

SE Factory is in the process of expanding, and with that, change is inevitable. We will embrace the impending change yet our core values will always dictate our vision and mission. Quality over Quantity, Focus and Adaptability being 3 of the main ones.

Thank you Marc Farra, Omar Abou Mrad, Saeid Al-Wazzan, and Constantine Nicolaou for reading drafts of this post.

[1] Full Disclosure: From which I never graduated

[2] Paraphrased

[3] While fully aware that the term is frowned upon, it is an accurate description of our graduates. ‘Why’ is the topic of another post.