clear light bulb planter on gray rock

Twitter recent­ly rec­om­mend­ed a tweet to me (all hail the algo­rithm) tout­ing what the author viewed as the top 5 web devel­op­ment stacks.”

JavaScript/​Node.js options dom­i­nat­ed the four-​letter acronyms as expect­ed, but the fifth one sur­prised me: LAMP, the com­bi­na­tion of the Linux oper­at­ing sys­tem, Apache web serv­er, MySQL rela­tion­al data­base, and Perl, PHP, or Python pro­gram­ming lan­guages. A quick web search for sim­i­lar lists yield­ed sim­i­lar results. Clearly, this meme (in the Dawkins sense) has out­last­ed its pop­u­lar­iza­tion by tech pub­lish­er O’Reilly in the 2000s.

Originally coined in 1998 dur­ing the dot-​com” bub­ble, I had thought that the term LAMP” had fad­ed with devel­op­ers in the inter­ven­ing decades with the rise of language-​specific web frame­works for:

Certainly on the Perl side (with which I’m most famil­iar), the com­mu­ni­ty has long since rec­om­mend­ed the use of a frame­work built on the PSGI spec­i­fi­ca­tion, dep­re­cat­ing 1990s-​era CGI scripts and the mod_​perl Apache exten­sion. Although general-​purpose web servers like Apache or Nginx may be part of an over­all sys­tem, they’re typ­i­cal­ly used as prox­ies or load bal­ancers for Perl-​specific servers either pro­vid­ed by the frame­work or a third-​party mod­ule.

Granted, PHP still relies on web server-​specific mod­ules, APIs, or vari­a­tions of the FastCGI pro­to­col for inter­fac­ing with a web serv­er. And Python web appli­ca­tions typ­i­cal­ly make use of its WSGI pro­to­col either as a web serv­er exten­sion or, like the Perl exam­ples above, as a prox­ied stand­alone serv­er. But all of these are deploy­ment details and do lit­tle to describe how devel­op­ers imple­ment and extend a web application’s structure.

Note how the var­i­ous four-​letter JavaScript stacks (e.g., MERN, MEVN, MEAN, PERN) dif­fer­en­ti­ate them­selves most­ly by fron­tend frame­work (e.g., Angular, React, Vue.js) and maybe by the (rela­tion­al or NoSQL) data­base (e.g., MongoDB, MySQL, PostgreSQL). All how­ev­er seem stan­dard­ized on the Node.js run­time and Express back­end web frame­work, which could, in the­o­ry, be replaced with non-​JavaScript options like the more mature LAMP-​associated lan­guages and frame­works. (Or if you pre­fer lan­guages that don’t start with P”, there’s C#, Go, Java, Ruby, etc.)

My point is that LAMP” as the name of a web devel­op­ment stack has out­lived its use­ful­ness. It’s at once too spe­cif­ic (about oper­at­ing sys­tem and web serv­er details that are often abstract­ed away for devel­op­ers) and too broad (cov­er­ing three sep­a­rate pro­gram­ming lan­guages and not the frame­works they favor). It also leaves out oth­er non-​JavaScript back-​end lan­guages and their asso­ci­at­ed frameworks.

The ques­tion is: what can replace it? I’d pro­pose NoJS” as rem­i­nis­cent of NoSQL,” but that inac­cu­rate­ly excludes JavaScript from its nec­es­sary role in the front-​end. NJSB” doesn’t exact­ly roll off the tongue, either, and still has the same ambi­gu­i­ty prob­lem as LAMP.”

How about pithy sort-​of-​acronyms pat­terned like database-​frontend-​backend? Here are some Perl examples:

  • MRDancer: MySQL, React, and Dancer (I use this at work. Yes, the M could also stand for MongoDB. Naming things is hard.)
  • MRMojo: MongoDB, React, and Mojolicious
  • PACat: PostgreSQL, Angular, and Catalyst
  • etc.

Ultimately it comes down to com­mu­ni­ty and indus­try adop­tion. If you’re involved with back-​end web devel­op­ment, please let me know in the com­ments if you agree or dis­agree that LAMP” is still a use­ful term, and if not, what should replace it.


Last week’s arti­cle received a com­ment on a pri­vate Facebook group that amount­ed to just use JavaScript’s built-​in for­mat­ting.” So what would that look like?

#!/usr/bin/env perl

use Mojolicious::Lite -signatures;
use DateTime;

get '/' =>
    sub ($c) { $c->render( template => 'index', date => DateTime->today ) };

helper localize_date => sub ( $c, $date = DateTime->today, $style = 'full' ) {
    my $date_params = join ',' => $date->year, $date->month_0, $date->day;
        qq<new Date($date_params).toLocaleString( [], {dateStyle: "$style"})>;

@@ index.html.ep
% layout 'default';
% title 'Today';
        document.write(<%== localize_date $date %>)
    % for my $style ( qw(long medium short) ) {
        document.write(<%== localize_date $date, $style %>)
    % }
@@ layouts/default.html.ep
<!DOCTYPE html>
    <head><title><%= title %></title></head>
    <body><%= content %></body>

It’s struc­tured much like the Perl-​only solu­tion, with a default "/" route and a localize_date Mojolicious helper to do the for­mat­ting. I opt­ed to out­put a piece of JavaScript from the helper on lines 11 through 14 since it could be repeat­ed sev­er­al times in a doc­u­ment. You could instead declare a func­tion in the default lay­out’s HTML <head> on line 38 that would receive a date and a for­mat­ting style, out­putting the result­ing for­mat­ted date.

In the tem­plate’s list from lines 22 through 31 I decid­ed to use JavaScript document.write method calls to add our gen­er­at­ed code. This has a slew of caveats but works for our exam­ple here.

Worth not­ing is the dou­ble equals sign (<%== %>) when embed­ding a Perl expres­sion. This pre­vents Mojolicious from XML-​escaping spe­cial char­ac­ters, e.g., replac­ing "quotes" with &quot;, <angle brack­ets> with &lt; and &gt;, etc.. This is impor­tant when return­ing HTML and JavaScript code.

I also chose to use the JavaScript Date objec­t’s toLocaleString() method for my for­mat­ting on line 12. There are oth­er ways to do this:

Note that line 10 builds the para­me­ters for JavaScript’s Date con­struc­tor using the year, month_0, and day meth­ods of our Perl DateTime object; month_0 because the Date con­struc­tor takes its month as an inte­ger from 0 to 11 rather than 1 to 12. JavaScript Dates can be con­struct­ed in many ways; this seemed the sim­plest with­out hav­ing to explain things like epochs and incon­sis­tent parsing.

Why are we using Perl DateTimes and a helper any­way? I’m assum­ing that our dates are com­ing from the back­end of our appli­ca­tion, pos­si­bly inflat­ed from a data­base col­umn. If your dates are strict­ly on the fron­tend, you might decide to put your for­mat­ting code there in a JavaScript func­tion, per­haps using a JavaScript-​based tem­plat­ing library.

The bot­tom line is to do what­ev­er makes sense for your sit­u­a­tion. I pre­fer the Perl solu­tion because I like the lan­guage and its ecosys­tem and per­haps have accli­mat­ed to its quirks. The com­pli­ca­tions of JavaScript brows­er sup­port, com­pet­ing frame­works, and lay­ers of tool­ing make my head hurt. Despite this, I’m still learn­ing; if you have any com­ments or sug­ges­tions, please leave them below.