Hi, I'm Aaron.

Between the Server and the Stack

My Background

I’ve been doing web development professionally since 2004, though I’ve been working with HTML since… I want to say 1995. When NCSA Mosaic launched, and Netscape 1.0 shortly after that (they would later evolve into Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox, respectively), I had an O’Reilly book on the HTML 1.0 spec and was learning how to make my own web pages.

My first server-side language was PHP, and like many PHP web developers, I was self-taught. In the early 00s, we didn’t really have a lot of web frameworks; Wordpress was still in 1.0 and was almost exclusively for blogging (it didn’t even have pages yet!).

If you wanted to write form processing, or handle user interaction with a database-backend, or do any kind of session management, you had to basically write it yourself (or grab copypasta from someone else’s code, which was also very common).

More Recently

In the past 5 to 10 years, with the emergence of web frameworks, a lot of the work happening between the server layer and the application layer gets abstracted away. All of the awesome new folks who are entering the wonderful world of web development aren’t forced to learn those things that we had to learn initially.

The upside is that they can get into writing features for awesome web applications sooner, but the downside is the lack of knowledge about what’s going on under the hood.

This Series

What I would like to do with this series is to write some articles to share some of this knowledge. Initially, it will be driven by things I’ve noticed in working with other people.

The content is intended to fill in that area between the web server (where the initial request is received) and the stack that’s running the application. I might note a framework if there’s something relevant to a specific one, but largely this information should be stack-agnostic. After all, behind any stack or server is a platform-agnostic, open source, HTTP and HTML specification!

The target audience for this is probably people who are either working through a coding bootcamp or self-teaching and are focusing primarily on a “framework-first” curriculum (e.g. Wordpress, React, Rails, .NET). Other web developers, even seasoned ones, may find some of this information useful, as well.