Which technology to pick for your SaaS business to succeed? This question is not uncommon in our days. In fact, quite the opposite because the SaaS model has become a meaningful part of every business domain. And the demand for SaaS product development is higher than ever and still increasing.
This article will discuss the essential factors you need to consider when selecting a framework for your SaaS project. Also, we will introduce the top 3 frameworks for building a SaaS product with their pros and cons. Read on to see the best examples of SaaS applications.
What makes SaaS product development special?
The software-as-a-service approach compares favorably with traditional software delivery. And here is why. For app owners or providers, SaaS applications offer improved flexibility and shorter time-to-market. Also, this approach provides lower development, maintenance, and integration costs.
The SaaS model offers advantages not only for the software providers. Users can easily access the software on any device with a web browser anytime they need as long as their device is connected to the Internet. Also, users do not need to patiently wait for the software to update.
Being a powerful way to deliver software, SaaS product development requires a lot of technical challenges to be overcome. First, SaaS products rely on secure infrastructure for proper user data handling. Developers must not forget about API creation, third-party integration, and availability issues. This is why choosing the hosting provider for your SaaS application calls for special attention.
Building a SaaS product implies an innovative way of managing and maintaining your database, code, and servers. And this is why the choice of the technology stack for your SaaS product requires careful consideration.
So, let’s dig into the outline of the frameworks that are the best options for developing SaaS-based products.
Best frameworks for SaaS development
Nowadays, there are nearly 269 programming languages, not to mention the number of existing frameworks. It is indeed an extensive range of tech stack options. And also, it can be quite tricky to find a reliable SaaS development company.
Roughly speaking, you can get a SaaS product right using any popular framework. But will your app work fast and smooth? That is the question since there is no one-size-fits-all programming tool. For example, some frameworks are better adapted for front-end development, like React.js.
When thinking if a framework fits your SaaS project, we suggest you go through the following checklist:
So, let’s verify the top three frameworks for SaaS product development.
Ruby on Rails
The first application written in Ruby on Rails framework, or RoR, was a project management tool Basecamp that was using the SaaS model. David Heinemeier Hansson, the creator of RoR, also took part in the development of Basecamp. Being created as a framework for Basecamp's internal use, the Rails framework was later released as an open-source code.
Since then, many world-known services, such as Hulu, Shopify, Slideshare, Github, Zendesk, have chosen Rails for their SaaS products. This is why it stands to reason that through the whole history of Rails’ existence, it is widely used in building SaaS products.
Rails framework provides developers with a great number of gems, free open-source libraries. Today, you can use 161,750+ gems to combine proven implementations made by a large and enthusiastic Rails community. With these ready solutions, your team will not need to develop already created features.
Ruby on Rails framework is a very developer-friendly framework. It follows the Convention over Configuration concept, making new feature implementation very easy. And thanks to DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) and KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principles, the framework ensures a clean and clitter-free code.
With Ruby on Rails, the SaaS product development gets faster and simpler, so your team delivers more secure and robust apps. Codica Team is building complex SaaS and marketplace platforms, and the Rails framework is an excellent tool for such products.
The recent rise of Python’s popularity led to the growing popularity of frameworks based on this programming language. And high on this list is Django, the most popular Python framework for building web applications and SaaS-based products.
Django is often used in SaaS product development due to its high out-of-the-box security protection and easy API creation. Like the Ruby on Rails framework, Django is good at avoiding common security threats.
Following the Zen of Python, the framework prefers explicit to implicit. Unlike Ruby on Rails, Django leaves less space for conventions, having no sets of web development principles. It may slow down the development process due to the configuration boilerplate.
Django is a monolithic framework that allows for developing reusable modules and applications. But mind that it also limits the development speed. And we must say that unlike other popular web frameworks, Django does not offer multiple requests handling. So, the application written in Django must be properly optimized in order to provide a suitable speed for SaaS.
This framework is often used for SaaS product development, included in the MEAN stack. MEAN stack includes MongoDB, Express.js, AngularJS (or Angular), and Node.js. See the detailed explanation in the image below.
Node.js provides a great default tool for package management, NPM. It is quite similar to Ruby Gems used for Ruby on Rails framework. NPM is a collection of reusable components that you can install via an online repository.
Express.js can boast of good server-side rendering and performance. It can address a significant number of simultaneous calls with extensive throughput. Beyond SaaS product development, it is used for building fast and scalable web apps.
However, Express.js does not natively support multi-threading. That means it is better not to use this framework for CPU-intensive processes. Also, it is not recommended to use Express.js with relational databases, such as PostgreSQL and MySQL.
Express.js is a minimalist framework without in-built security measures. That is why you need to use additional modules to ensure protection. You also need to know that only the newest version of this framework gets maintenance of security and performance.
What does Ruby on Rails framework bring to SaaS?
At Codica, we chose Ruby on Rails as a reliable and robust web framework. And the amazing statistics by BuiltWith of 3 mln+ sites ever made with this framework only proves we have made the right choice.
Let’s dig into reflections on why the Rails framework is an excellent option for SaaS development.
Ruby is an eloquent and succinct programming language with a great suite of tools, not to mention tons of gems. Ruby on Rails framework follows the MVC (model-view-controller) pattern. It allows for the modularity and extensibility of applications in SaaS product development. This is why any RoR application, no matter its complexity, can easily be extended with new functionality and business logic.
All the factors above push the boundaries for developers who can deliver more features in less time with RoR.
Being a mature framework, Ruby on Rails has a significant advantage over fresh technologies as it is fairly secure by default. It provides inbuilt protection against the variety of security threats like SQL injection and XSS attacks. Also, there are many gems that solve other security issues you may encounter in SaaS product development.
Ruby on Rails framework provides thorough documentation on securing Rails applications. It covers all common security problems and countermeasures to fight them.
With the Ruby on Rails framework, developers do not need to reinvent the wheel as they can use proven feature implementations. Authentication systems, commenting, payments, and many other services were implemented many times before. And the fantastic community of RoR developers made it to the public.
Developing applications with Rails is fast, but what does it mean for you? It lowers development costs and shortens the time-to-market of your SaaS product in the early days. Also, you get more regular application updates, quicker feedback from users, and swift market change adoption.
Scalability helps you to meet the demands of users, and also allows you to fulfill surges in new orders so you can start making profit immediately. High scalability is the reason why cloud computing gained so much popularity and continues to grow.
What does scalability mean in SaaS product development? It is the ability of your SaaS application to perform well when processing increased request loads. Simply put, if your audience gets much bigger, a scalable application can adjust to it without changes in the architecture.
Scalability in the Ruby on Rails framework is achieved by its support of modular code that can easily divide it into engines, modules, and gems.
Best SaaS product examples on Ruby on Rails
The examples of SaaS products written in RoR create an impressive list. It includes world-known products like Github, Zendesk, and Shopify. This is the best evidence of the advantages of SaaS product development with Ruby on Rails.
It is absolutely impossible to find a software developer who has not heard of GitHub. It is a web-based version-control platform that started its way in 2008. GitHub helps developers manage their source code and collaborate with each other.
GitHub is the world’s biggest host of source code written in 316 unique programming languages. In 2019, the GitHub community merged 87m+ pull requests across every continent on Earth.
GitHub engineers are committed to Ruby on Rails since the very beginning of the company’s history. GitHub experts submitted over 100 pull requests to Rails 6.0 to improve documentation, add features, and speed up performance.
Founded in 2007, Zendesk is now one of the leading cloud-based customer experience solutions, serving 160,000+ customers. This SaaS product is trusted by giants like Slack, Netflix, Vodafone, and Uber.
Clients choose Zendesk for its simplicity – in use, implementation, and integration. Built on Ruby on Rails, this software is reliable and flexible, having a huge load of 86 mln+ visits per month.
Shopify is the top commerce platform for small and medium-sized online stores in more than 175 countries. Introduced in 2004, Shopify represents one of the biggest Ruby on Rails codebases. And Tobias Lütke, the founder of Shopify, is a former Rails core team member.
The scope of this RoR-based SaaS application is, in fact, impressive – it processes 4 mln+ requests per second, hosting 1 mln+ businesses.
Shopify is known for its good structure and user-friendliness. Not least, credit for this goes to RoR, a framework that easily handles API creation. According to Lütke, one of the keys to Shopify’s success was an API that allows other developers to implement the needed features easily.
Codica expertise in SaaS product development
Since 2015, Codica has helped numerous startups and established businesses in their way to success. And one of our major directions is SaaS development. Codica team is always ready to take new SaaS challenges, including but not limited to:
- SaaS development from the ground up;
- Integration with third-party services;
- Existing SaaS product tweaking;
- On-premises-to-cloud migration.
We build bright solutions in a variety of domains. You can check our list below and find the one just for you.
Case study: Digital Village
Digital Village is an Australian online collaboration platform for entrepreneurs and developers. The aim of this project is to create a professional network for IT product development. Thus, our goal was to create a platform that allows for easy cooperation between development teams and entrepreneurs.
Codica team has set up a fully-fledged SaaS platform that offers powerful and convenient solutions. The functionality includes but is not confined to:
- Intuitive and satisfying design;
- Easy and efficient search options;
- Efficient project management tools;
- Advanced teams and channels functionality;
- Convenient and workable Admin section.
Codica helped Digital Village to establish a place as a professional network of digital specialists. And now we provide maintenance of the application scaling up and enhance it continuously.
Compared to building traditional software, SaaS product development is more technically demanding. Yet, this endeavor can be very lucrative because the demand for cloud products rises. According to the Flexera 2020 State of the Cloud Report, migration to SaaS is a top priority for 43% of companies in 2020 compared to 29% in the previous year.
When it comes to SaaS development, Rails meets all the requirements easily. Also, it amplifies the main SaaS benefits by launching the product and generating revenue faster. When choosing Ruby on Rails for your SaaS project, you get powerful and cost-effective solutions.
Contact us if you need any help with SaaS product development — our experts will be glad to help you create a successful SaaS application. You can also check our case studies to learn more about the products we deliver.