The rapid changes in the IT world are raising the bar of standards and skills. Today, a developer needs to be much more than just a specialist of a particular field. Full stack developers are the product of this demand and are quickly becoming a first choice for many enterprises.

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But, is it always wise to hire a jack of all trades than a specialist one?

Many of you might have the same question. In this article we will try to offer some reasonable answers to it. But before that let’s understand what full stack and specialist developers are.

What is a full-stack developer?

A full-stack developer is a developer who can work with both backend and front end of a website and application. In simple terms, a full-stack developer is a developer who can work in the projects that involve building user-facing websites, databases, and also work with clients while they are in the planning phase of the project.

Full-stack programmer is a developer who is well-versed and experienced in numerous areas like:

  • Frontend development (Vue.js, Angular, Node.js, React)
  • Backend development (PHP, Java, NET)
  • UI/UX design
  • Markup languages (HTML and CSS)
  • Databases (Firebase, MongoDB, PosterSQL, MySQL)
  • Software testing (TestComplete, Katalon studio, Postman, Selenium, etc)
  • Scalability, architecture, and the roadmap of the project.

Contrary to many people’s belief, a full-stack software engineer doesn’t necessarily writes all the codes of a site by himself. Many a times he spends his majority of time either in the backend or the front end code of a site.

Moreover, writing code is only a small portion of a full stack developer’s work. It’s because today there are many customizable, frameworks, tools, and libraries available that a developer can implement instead of writing the code himself.

This is the reason why having a competent knowledge of implementing frontend and backend tools and framework makes the full-stack developer an attractive prospect for the enterprises hiring developers.

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What is a specialist developer?

As the name suggests, a developer who is an expert in a single discipline and whose work revolves around that particular discipline is called a specialist developer. This doesn’t mean that the specialized developer won’t have the same understanding required for building and delivering an application as that of a senior full stack developer.

It only means that the specialized developer would be the go to guy for that particular subject that can be anything such as design, database design, domain modelling, and entity framework.

Full Stack Developer VS Specialist Developer: Pros and Cons

We understood the basic difference between a full stack developer and a specialist one. Now let’s see pros and cons of hiring them.

First let’s look at the pros and cons of hiring specialized developers.

Specialized developers pros:

High quality of work delivered for each part of the project

One of the biggest advantages of hiring specialized developer is that you will always get high quality work for all the parts of your project. It’s because all the specialized developers are well versed in their technology and hence the quality of work rendered by them is superior to that of full stack developers.

Stays updated with the latest trends and technologies

Since the specialized developers have a specialized area of expertise, it’s easy for them to keep themselves updated with all the latest trends and technologies of their specific development area.

Convenient allocation of responsibilities

The allocation of responsibilities becomes easy, efficient, and comfortable for both the project’s needs and the team members. It’s because, the total work can be easily split into small tasks that can be managed by each specialized developer.

Specialized developers cons:

High cost

Hiring two specialist developers each for frontend and backend costs higher than hiring a single full-stack developer that can do the same work.

Dependency on other members

Since specialized developers are highly skilled and mastered at performing the tasks of their domain, there’s a greater dependency on other members. For example, in a particular project one developer can’t proceed until the other specialized developer has completed his part of the job.

Now let’s see the pros and cons of hiring a qualified full stack developer.

Full stack developer pros:

Jack of all trades

A full stack developer is well-versed in all the various stages of software development like frontend, backend, QA testing, architecture of code, and many more. This versatility helps full stack developers to quickly identify and eliminate the omni-purpose issues especially when there are different developers working on different parts of the product.

In the absence of a full stack developer, specialized developers have to conduct a meeting to identify the problem which would be a time consuming process.

Cost

Hiring one full stack developer can easily replace two or sometimes more than two specialized developers. Hence, hiring a full stack developer can reduce the workforce required and ultimately lower the cost of hiring.

Flexibility

A full stack programmer offers great flexibility as he is well-versed with both service side and client side which makes it easy for him to switch between the tasks. Presence of a full stack developer reduces the development time by eliminating misunderstandings between the development sides.

In the presence of a full stack developer, there’s no need for the backend developers to conduct a meeting for explaining the front end developers about the issue and vice-versa.

Full stack developer cons:

Risk-prone time management

In case, if there are several full stack developers working on major parts of a project, then it might pose a huge risk of irrational time management. It’s because there might be a situation of high workload with a cluster of unresolved tasks. This might halt the entire project as the developers would be busy in completing the unresolved tasks rather than working on new tasks.

Not able to keep up with the latest trends and technologies

Full stack developers work in a huge number of fields and many a times it becomes difficult for them to keep up with the latest trends, tools, and technologies of all the area of expertise.

Responsibility control

When you have a full stack development team, then the developers don’t split their work into smaller tasks. Instead, they simply work cohesive parts of the project. This makes it difficult for the team members as well as the customers to regulate, check, and most importantly define the completeness of the project at any point of instant.

When to choose full stack or specialized developers?

We saw the pros and cons of both full stack developer as well as the dedicated developer. However, you still might be in a dilemma as to hire a dedicated developer or a full stack developer. To provide you a clearer picture between the two, let’s see what are the criteria for making a choice between a dedicated developer and a full stack developer.

Size of the project

The choice of developers greatly depends upon the project size. For instance, if you’re a startup or you have a small project in your hand then hiring full-stack developers makes sense. It’s because at that stage you’ve limited resources and an extensive range of technologies and tasks.

It’s reasonable to hire full stack developers for mid-sized projects. However, for large projects, it’s advised to hire a huge team of specialized developers as there’s a need to accurately follow the documentation process along with implementing the suitable tools and technologies.

Project complexity

This criterion is quite similar to the first one. It’s because if a project regardless of its size comprises a small number of tasks, clear functionality, and simple implementation, then going for full stack developer is the right choice.

Similarly, if the project is complex in nature, which is if it consists of large number of tasks, then it will be a better choice to go for specialized developers who can come up with better competent solutions.

Project flexibility

If your project requirements are not defined strictly and are subject to change periodically, then full stack developers is the right choice for you. Full stack developers are well adept in multi-tasking and switching tasks rapidly. Thus, they can easily accommodate those periodic changes. On the contrary, if you have a team of several specialized developers, then changing requirements becomes a tough task.

In case, if your project has rigid requirements, then you must go for a team of specialists developers.

Budget

As discussed earlier, hiring a full stack developer is financially economical as compared to that of a dedicated team. So, if you’re running low on budget then full stack developer is the answer.

Quality of project

Project quality is an important parameter to make a choice between the full stack and specialized developers. If want to make a solution of optimum quality then it’s obvious that it will require some extra effort.

Creation of a top-notch solution demands complete immersion. And such immersion can only be achieved with a team of specialized developers.

Conclusion

Full stack developers are an ideal choice for a start-up. Similarly, specialized developers are the way to go for top-notch and complex solutions.

Both full stack developers and specialized developers have their own pros and cons. While making a choice between them you must understand your own project carefully and then decide further.

I hope this article served as a guide for you to understand the basic difference, benefits, drawbacks, and scope of choosing full stack and specialized developers.

For more such insightful articles stay tuned to this space.

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