Why Your Tech Stack Matters

At Bixly, our core tech stack has been well established for many years. We’ve been programming in Python/Django for well over 10 years and using Angular and React on the frontend for about half that time. Like with many businesses, that wasn’t always the case. In the early days of Bixly, we didn’t have the focus we have today and it took us some time to realize what our focus should be. In this episode of Tech Tuesday, Cris and Andrew, discuss the history of our tech stack, why we settled on Python, Angular, and React, and why we continue to have open discussions with our clients about the technology that powers their software.

Great advice for any company is to have a focus. Cris outlines how Bixly narrowed in on Python because we realized that while there were several overseas development houses serving clients, at the time there weren’t any here in the US. This meant that Bixly could offer a huge advantage to clients who wanted to work with software development teams in their own time zone. Early on, we used to manage additional offshore developers who worked US hours, but today we have an exclusively US based staff, nearly all of whom are located here in California. We have discovered over the years that having a team that works in the same time zone as our clients, taking meetings at convenient hours, communicating well, and being productive is a huge benefit to the success of the project.

As Bixly grew, we added Angular and React. As Andrew states, “They are both pretty mature technologies at this point. They have very wide adoption.” This allows us to do rapid JavaScript development and work in technologies that don’t pigeonhole our clients. We, of course, want our clients to work with us for as long as they need customer software development and support, but we also understand that they may need to bring their development in house or change teams. We want them to have the flexibility to do that. We want our clients to have a code base that will be usable for the long haul, with well supported and established technologies.

At the same time that it’s important to have a focus, it’s equally important to be able to be flexible. We also have the ability to work in Node and Vue as well as PHP. We’ve made native mobile applications for both iOS and Android. And we really love to work in Ionic to leverage JavaScript web-based technologies to develop for mobile. This is beneficial in so many ways: it allows us to leverage our expertise in web programming on mobile; Ionic is very powerful and works for a large majority of mobile apps; it keeps the code base coherent for customers who may be offering their technology on multiple platforms; it ultimately results in a huge cost savings for our clients. At the foundation of our love for Ionic is its ability to fulfill our priority to continue to create high-quality software even as an MVP, satisfying both business goals and technology aspirations.

As we work with our clients, we have a lot of questions because we want to fully understand your idea. Who is your user base?How will they be digesting this information? Does it make more sense for them to do it over a web browser or mobile app? There will even be some industry specific questions, for example if you want to build an app that is related to the medical industry or banking, security and compliance become a big priority. Ensuring that we are meeting industry standards is key!

Thank you for joining us for this first episode of Tech Tuesday. We hope you enjoyed the conversation. If you are ready to start talking about your custom software, we are ready to come alongside you to determine the best technology for your goals! Set up a FREE consultation today!

 

Episode Transcript:

Alexandra:

Hi, everyone. Welcome to another Bixly Tech Tuesday. My name is Alexandra and we are extremely excited to bring this same content to you in a brand new format. Today, Chris, CEO of Bixly, and Andrew, COO of Bixly are having a conversation around the topic of Bixly’s core tech stack. This is something that we have been working in for a really long time. We have a deep expertise in. And we’re really excited to share with you what it is and why we work in it. And why we continue to have open and honest conversations with our clients about that tech stack.

Andrew:

Our core tech stack is Python Django. And then on the front end, we use Angular and React.

Cris:

Briefly, we didn’t actually start off as a Python shop. We actually were dabbling in .NET and C# and PHP as well as Python, but we realized very quickly that if you can have a focus, you’re going to be much better. Python was very saturated with the overseas market, but was not big in basically the US.

Andrew:

They’re both pretty mature technologies at this point. They have very wide adoption. And so we wanted something that was going to be able to allow us to do rapid JavaScript development and be progressive. And also just work with technologies that there’s going to be lots of developers out there, lots of people that can do that. And so we wanted our clients to know that they’re working with mature, scalable technologies that are widely adopted in the industry.

Cris:

We were seeing a small pivot and change in the tech industry where everything at the time, 2007, 2008, we’re kind of moonlighting these projects getting Bixly up and running. Everything was all pretty much built on the backend. And you had designers really that were doing HTML, CSS, but they were really just doing design. It was very heavy lifting on the side of the developers.

Cris:

We both got a push internally from our design team that said, “Hey, we kind of want to be a little more involved in the actual coding process.” And we’re seeing this pivot and this change in the industry to being able to handle things a bit more on the front end with JavaScript, as you mentioned.

Andrew:

Yeah. On the front end, we’re familiar with Vue. On the backend, we’ve done a lot with Node. I think we’ve done some with PHP and whatnot, but really, Vue and Node would kind of be the other ones that we would touch on. Oh. And then Ionic too, if we’re doing mobile. So we’ll do Ionic so that we can use JavaScript web-based technologies to build a mobile app. And I think we’ve done some with React Native too.

Cris:

Yeah. We have. And Ionic specifically, that’s something in the last couple of years that we’ve really started to push much heavier into. We’ve had the projects over the years, but we realized that there’s a lot of applications out there. People come to us and they think that, “I need to write this with native Swift code for iOS, and I need to use something like Kotlin for Java, on the Android side,” and that’s not necessarily the case. And it starts to just push the code bases apart.

Cris:

So being able to handle our lightweight applications with JavaScript like Ionic-

Andrew:

Right.

Cris:

It’s really been a good sell for us, but ultimately a way to get those MVP — we always talk about MVP — get those MVP type products off the ground for our clients and not suddenly just get deep into a sea of two code bases.

Andrew:

Right. And on the Ionic side, it allows us to be cross-platform for Android and iOS. And also it allows us to develop in web-based JavaScript technologies for mobile, which we’re largely a web-based shop. So you’re not having all these separate platforms to deal with.

Cris:

The biggest thing is you’re working with my company for now, and I would ultimately like you to continue to engage with myself and Andrew and everyone here. But we know that chances are, you might have an in-house team that you’re going to be collaborating with. You might need to bring in another team from outside or whatever the reasons. And so tech stack is important. If I just build your project in something that only we can control and something that we know, use some bleeding edge cusp technology, if you ever have to go somewhere or even hire internally, you might actually be pigeonholed a little bit as a client.

Cris:

So that I think is a kind of foremost, one of the reasons that we have those technology conversations, is to make sure that you understand the breadth of the project a little bit and why you would want, or not want, to build in any particular language. And in this case, it’s that longevity of the project and really extensibility and moving between teams. A lot of times clients may hear something and it may or may not necessarily be the truth. So just to kind of re-engage and really allow them to make the choices for themselves and have some ownership in the application is also extremely important for me.

Andrew:

We would have conversations about who is their user base? How are they going to be digesting this information? Does it make more sense for them to do it over a web browser or a mobile app? So those are going to be some pretty early conversations. And that’s really only after we understand what their overarching objective is and what success really looks like for their project. Once we figure that out, then we can move into technology type questions and it’s really all about delivery to their client base.

Cris:

Yeah. And there could even be those industry specific type questions that the client may or may not be aware of. So if they’re, for instance, in the medical industry or dealing with accounting, bookkeeping, that sort of thing, there might be a certain amount of personally identifiable information that is very important. It’s always important to keep that kind of information secure, but if you’re dealing, again, with the medical industry or banking industry, you can kind of pivot away from language stacks and get all of them over to the server side of stuff. And how are we going to host this? We can’t just spin this up maybe necessarily on a Heroku instance because of the fact that that’s not going to be PCI compliant.

Cris:

So we need to talk about PCI compliance and things like that. So those are other things that, if we don’t talk through it with the client and understand their application, and they don’t fully explain those to us, or to any dev shop, you can start finding yourself going down a road of a technology that’s not going to support the product, have an insecure hosting instance, and ultimately you’re going to have some really angry customers at the end.

Alexandra:

Thank you for joining us for this first episode of Bixly Tech Tuesday. If you have any questions at all about our tech stack or anything else Andrew and Chris touched on today, feel free to leave those in the comments down below. And if you’re interested in getting started on your project, you can always reach out to us at bixly.com and even set up a free consultation to get the conversation started. Until next time, this has been an episode of Bixly Tech Tuesday.