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Stacks On Stacks On Stacks

Feb. 2018
by Ian Kendall


Ian here, one third of FoxFuel’s dev team. If you’ve used a FoxFuel site, then we’ve spoken before—that is, you’ve visited the site, your browser has talked to my code, which has talked back and displayed the information you requested—lovely conversations, really. I feel like we’re friends.

Regardless, I’m not here to hype up our existing sites, but rather to discuss where our tech is headed. A few months ago, the FoxFuel devs visited NODEvember, a city-wide geek-out over the latest, greatest trends in website tech. Before digging into what we learned, let’s first talk a little bit about FoxFuel’s tech ‘stack’—a developer’s term for the set of tools that run everything we build.

FoxFuel uses what’s called the ‘LAMP’ stack. This stack is comprised of Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP which together serve as the four pillars of how our websites transform mind-melting code into the pretty fonts and colors our designers meticulously select to appear inside a web browser.

The LAMP stack has been an industry standard for decades, is incredibly reliable, and has loads of support if things do go wrong.

Our confidence in LAMP’s superiority was stronger than ever heading into NODEvember, where the talk of the town had quickly migrated to a hot new language called React. As suspected, we were told that developers all over the world have been ditching their tried-and-true tech stacks to develop full-tilt in React.

Is React really that powerful? That efficient? That sexy?

In short, yes. Here’s why:

Take a traditional web page. You, the user, have a bunch of different pieces of web site in front of you—pictures, captions, a menu, a form, maybe even attributes of your profile. When you want to change something on that page, the entire page gets redrawn. It’s exhausting, and more importantly, it’s slow.

This process is re-thought in React. Each portion of a page is a ‘Component’ forming a small piece of what you see on a webpage. When something changes, the whole page isn’t updated, merely the ‘Component’ that saw change.

It’s like being at the checkout in a supermarket and suddenly realizing that the salsa you selected just isn’t ‘you’… instead of dumping out your entire cart and starting over, you head to the right aisle, switch out the salsa, and quickly get on with the rest of your day.

Are we completely changing our stack? Not at all. We still love LAMP and so do our clients. We’re simply considering new ways to display our content in your browser, so your experience is faster and more badass with every click of the mouse.

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