Multiple frameworks have been invented to simplify the web development process, increase flexibility and reduce time to market. Without the use of frameworks, modern web development would be a nightmare for software engineers because they would have to create databases, business logic, security options, and many other things from scratch.
This article talks about the essence of web development frameworks and provides a list of the most popular web frameworks for 2021.
What Is a Web Framework?
A framework is like a box of Lego pieces you can use to build anything you need. This is a platform with a set of basic ready-to-use programming modules, tools and libraries that are used to create software products.
Frameworks provide developers with the necessary tools and functionalities and dictate the rules for building the architecture of websites, applications, APIs, services and other solutions. Thus, you create the skeleton for your project quickly and can further extend it according to specified requirements.
A framework can also include utility programs, code libraries, scripting languages, and other software to facilitate the development and integration of various components of a large software project.
As a rule, web development platforms are customizable, meaning you can take ready-to-use templates and components and tailor them to your specific needs. You can also implement your own code into the platform.
Advantages of Using Frameworks
Why do most developers rely on frameworks? In a nutshell, because they simplify the creation and support of web projects. The following is a list of benefits of using web development frameworks.
From a business point of view, framework-based web development is less time-consuming and more cost-effective in most cases.
- Speedy development. Frameworks save programmers the trouble of reinventing the wheel by performing typical tasks from the ground up when starting a project. Instead, developers use pre-written templates and tools to create the project basis quickly, thus substantially saving time. In addition, they can better concentrate on specific details, contributing to the quality of the future solution.
- Reliability and security. Ready-made components have been created and improved by a community of thousands of developers, meaning that they have been tested in all possible scenarios. By using these, you avoid numerous bugs and create a highly stable, reliable and secure solution within a shorter period, to the satisfaction of your customers.
- Reduced errors. The community ensures the quality of framework components, so you can feel safe implementing them into your project. Moreover, framework methodologies usually incorporate the best software engineering practices. That’s why by following these rules, you can avoid numerous design obstacles and eliminate bugs.
- Simplified maintenance. Frameworks define a unified structure for application development, so applications based on frameworks are much easier to maintain and refine: any developer can easily gain an understanding of a standard organization of app components and its operational principles, and seamlessly add functionality or make changes.
- Better performance. Framework-based solutions tend to work much faster and ensure higher loading capacity, which is crucial for eCommerce solutions. They are also easily scalable.
Using frameworks is especially vital for large projects with complicated architecture and interdependencies. There are only two situations that warrant the use of natively supported programming:
- If a project is very simple and does not require further development
- If a project requires intensive low-level optimization
In all other cases, framework-based development is faster and ensures better quality.
Frontend and Backend Web Frameworks
Any web application consists of a backend or a server-side part and a frontend or a client-side part. Consequently, there are frontend and backend web development frameworks.
Backend web frameworks are responsible for the hidden part of a website or application that developers interact with. They deal with the server and database functioning, solution logic and architecture, routing protocols, data security, authorization options and more. These platforms are based on backend programming languages such as .NET, Ruby, Python, Java and PHP.
Web development frameworks are divided into several groups depending on the type of architecture or the way their components are organized and interact with each other. Even developers unfamiliar with a framework can easily understand how it functions knowing the architectural paradigm.
The following are three common paradigms.
- MVC (Model-View-Controller). The majority of frameworks use the MVC architecture pattern. Here, the app data, user interface and business logic are divided into three separate components: model, view and controller. Each component can be altered independently.
- MVVM (Model-View-ViewModel). In this architecture, models and views are also divided and can be modified separately. The MVVM pattern consists of three parts:
- Model is the logic for working with data and a description of the fundamental data required for the application to work.
- View is the graphical interface (windows, lists, buttons, etc.).
- ViewModel is an abstraction of the View and a wrapper for data from the Model. It contains a Model converted to a View and the commands that the View can use to influence the Model.
- Three-tier organization. Applications with this architecture have three layers: the client, the application server (to which the client application is connected) and the database server (with which the application server works).
Most Popular Web Development Frameworks
There is a vast choice of web development frameworks available on the market today. Note that you can find helpful contributions to these frameworks from the community members on GitHub repositories.
We’ve compiled a list of the top ten frameworks (both backend and frontend) for 2021.
Express is one of the best backend frameworks today. Its popularity among large enterprises is explained by the flexibility and minimalist feel of the platform. Moreover, Express is an open-source framework for the Node.js environment, and Node.js is in high demand today.
Another reliable open-source backend framework is Django. Written in Python, it allows for fast development and incredible scalability.
With Django, you can be sure that your web products are completely safe in terms of cybersecurity because security is the platform’s priority.
3. Ruby on Rails
Ruby on Rails (RoR or simply Rails) is an open-source backend web application framework written in the Ruby programming language and based on the MVC architectural pattern.
Though RoR was invented more than 15 years ago, it is still a popular tool for developing complex web applications. It provides everything you need to create robust and high-speed solutions. You can also get incredible support from the large and friendly Rails community whenever you need it.
Another open-source backend framework you should pay attention to is Laravel. It is written in the most popular programming language, PHP, and is based on the MVC model.
Laravel boasts a simple syntax and numerous packages that expand out-of-the-box API support. You can quickly learn Laravel with the help of the tutorial website Laracasts, which offers hundreds of helpful videos.
However, in terms of performance, Laravel still trails behind Express or Django.
Spring is also an open-source backend framework that is widely used for developing powerful enterprise-level applications. It is very lightweight in terms of functionality and size. Since Spring is written in Java, it will not lose traction in the years to come.
A large and active community of the Spring framework continuously helps improve the platform and is always ready to help with real-life use cases.
Moving on to frontend open-source frameworks, let’s start with Angular. It is one of the best platforms for websites, mobile web, native mobile and native desktop development.
Previously, there was AngularJS; the Google team rewrote it from scratch in TypeScript and now the framework is known as Angular 2+ or simply Angular.
With Angular, you can create cross-platform solutions that have high speed and performance. The core disadvantage of this platform is its large size, which can negatively impact the performance of web apps. However, the team has been reducing the size with each new release.
Vue features a highly flexible and adaptable architecture (MVVM pattern) that can be easily integrated with third-party solutions. You can choose from numerous components, using Vue as a library to improve your existing app or utilizing it as a full-featured framework.
One more open-source framework to pay attention to is Ember. It can help you build modern user interfaces not only for web solutions but also for mobile and desktop apps that will run across all devices. Ember utilizes the MVVM paradigm.
A significant feature of Ember is a testing program that is generated for each new entity by default.
Using Ember, you can always rely on the ever-growing community of talented developers who regularly release new features and keep improving the platform.
With React, you can build rich user interfaces and create custom components. It also allows for mobile app development. It is flexible, easy to learn and SEO-friendly.
In general, this library is pleasant to work with because it is lightweight: there are no odd functions, they are moved to plug-ins, so if needed, you can easily add any function.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Summing up the above information, let’s answer some frequently asked questions concerning web development frameworks.
What Are the Most Used Web Frameworks?
According to a survey by Statista, in 2020, the top three most used web frameworks among developers worldwide were jQuery (43.3% of respondents), React (35.9%) and Angular (25.1%). The list continues with ASP.NET, Express, ASP.NET Core, Vue, Spring.
What Web Framework Is the Easiest to Learn?
Different tools have different learning curves: some of them you can master in a short time, while others require more effort and technical skills. As for web frameworks, they strive for simplicity to make the development process as seamless as possible. At the top of the easiest-to-learn frameworks are currently jQuery, Backbone and Vue.
What Is the Best Frontend Framework?
The Developer Survey 2020 by Stackoverflow revealed that the most popular frontend framework is jQuery, followed by React and Angular. But these are only statistics, and there are many other frontend frameworks that may better suit your company’s needs or project requirements.