Shiny objects. There are times when we’re all drawn into what’s bigger, better, and faster. Given the digital climate and the promise of better experiences, it’s only natural to want to upgrade to the next version. Perhaps it’s FOMO; though we really don’t know what we’re missing out on, we just hear it’s better. For a web design and development firm like New Target, we routinely walk the line between overripe and too soon. We’re constantly reading about and learning new tools and when the time is right, we start using them on projects. These new tools, however, don’t replace our trusted foundation but serve as a complement to what works well for us. Our foundation is the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) stack. As open source proponents and experienced developers, the LAMP stack works exceedingly well for our web development and web application efforts and here’s why.


Linux has been around since 1991 and according to the Linux Foundation, it “…powers 98% of the world’s supercomputers, most of the servers powering the Internet, the majority of financial trades worldwide and tens of millions of Android mobile phone and consumer devices.” We typically wouldn’t choose a technology based on its popularity alone but there is good reason why Linux is everywhere. First, the huge open source community that contributes to it keeps it continuously updated and secure. We like that it has a very small footprint, as compared to Windows, so it can be used in different devices, and we can do so many things on the command line and automate a great deal. The control we get allows us to move much faster toward infrastructure as code, and at this point, the package management is mature and easy to use.


The LAMP stack has three additional key components including the server (Apache), database (MySQL), and language (PHP). Apache is key to the LAMP stack and is used by more than 60% of the web. It has been around for about 22 years, so it has matured to a very stable place. This means that there are many modules that we can use and they have all been well tested by the community. The open source relational database management system, MySQL is the standard for the LAMP stack quite simply because it’s easy to use, seamless, and has a short learning curve. Many CMSs use MySQL because it meets a variety of needs through its scalability and high performance. As a scripting language, PHP is the most popular and remains so because of its community support and recent improvements in speed and efficiency that are found in version 7.


LAMP isn’t the only technology stack around for building websites and web applications and it does get some competition from MEAN (MongoDB, Express.js, AngularJS, and Node.js). MEAN is an open source JavaScript stack that hasn’t been around as long as LAMP and carries its own set of benefits and drawbacks. So how do you know which to choose? If you’re building a new front-end application with not much back-end coding or algorithms, then MEAN could be the way to go. However, LAMP is better for sites with a lot of back-end work, like APIs, because of the security protocols that have been put into place by the community. Also, if you’re working on upgrades and restructuring using the MEAN stack, you may not find all the plugins you need due to the simple fact that MEAN isn’t as established as LAMP. MEAN’s youth may be an issue if your staff isn’t experienced with custom plugins or modules, and there is always the possibility of security flaws.

As with all up and coming technology, we’ll keep our eye on the MEAN stack. But given LAMP’s track record, shiny objects are easy to ignore.

A global team of digerati with offices in Washington, D.C. and Southern California, we provide digital strategy, digital marketing, web design, and creative for brands you know and nonprofits you love.

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