These days you can do things in plenty of different ways. From the way you dress, to how you develop applications. That also applies to web development as there is no right or correct way to handle things, i.e. there are no exact frameworks that you necessarily have to use. So if you’re looking for one to build your own website, or maybe you want to know what’s a framework and its different types, you’re in the right place.
In this article, you’ll find out what are web development frameworks, how they compare, and which are the most popular ones. Without further ado, let’s dive into the article right away!
What Are Web Development Frameworks?
Frameworks have been designed to help programmers with coding websites, applications, and more. Each of them is a platform that includes modules, libraries, or tools, all pre-made and waiting for use. They can not only save time for web developers but also save money. Using frameworks contributes to faster web applications deployment and overall security of the application.
Of course, it doesn’t mean that you have to follow the framework blindly and leave everything as is. You can alter the details and adjust the web development frameworks to your needs.
Frameworks can be divided into two categories: frontend and backend. Each of them has different responsibilities, i.e. the former takes care of the user interface of the web application, along with the user experience, local storage, communication with backend, assets, and even more, whereas the latter does all the calculations, data processing, business logic and operations triggered by the requests.
Most Popular Web Development Frameworks
There are plenty of frameworks out there that you can use for your web applications. The question is which one will suit your needs? For your convenience, we’ve prepared a list of the 10 best web development frameworks that we’re going to take a closer look at!
Backend Web Development Frameworks
Before we proceed to listing backend web frameworks, let’s briefly explain what backend actually is. Let’s say that you launch your browser, type in your favorite website and browse through it. Things that you do on the website like clicking on the blog, scrolling through posts, or checking out categories, are done at the frontend, whereas every calculation, running the scripts, accessing data, is done in the backend which is responsible for all these processes. Everything that happens in the backend is basically like John Cena because you can’t see it.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we’re finally ready to dive into the backend web frameworks, also known as server-side web development frameworks.
Ruby on Rails
Based on the MVC architecture, Ruby on Rails – sometimes referred to as Rails or RoR – is an open-source web development framework. As the name itself suggests, the framework has been written in the Ruby programming language. Many users have decided on Ruby on Rails, as it features simple syntax and high-performance. Though Rails was created 16 years ago, it’s still loved by the developers to this day.
RoR has a feature that is called “assumptions”. What it essentially does is making suggestions about the best ways to write the project. By doing so, Ruby on Rails aims to boost user’s productivity.
Additionally, you should remember that Ruby on Rails web application framework operates with two major principles in mind. The first being the DRY methodology, which states that you should not repeat yourself while working on the code. The second principle is the “convention over configuration”. In other words, the previously mentioned assumptions.
Being such a popular web application framework, it’s no surprise that plenty of big brands use it. Shopify, Hulu, or Airbnb are just among many other brands that use Ruby on Rails.
Not only that, Express also contributes to the easy and fast creation of various APIs. API is an abbreviation for Application Programming Interface. Essentially, its task is to allow communication between two apps.
When your application grows larger and larger, it becomes convoluted and more complex. A logical and wise way to handle it would be to break up the application into microservice architectures in Node.js that would untangle and divide the specific sections of the app. It allows the developer to work on different sections of the application independently, without risking that it would ruin the entire program.
To code microservice architecture you can use a programming language or a framework. In the latter case, Express could be an ideal choice.
Coming back to Express, this popular web framework is not only appreciated by the regular users, but it’s also used by some of the biggest companies like Uber, NASA, LinkedIn, or Netflix, and these are just a few companies among many that do so.
Based on the MVC (Model-View-Controller) architectural pattern and Symfony, Laravel is appreciated by many users as it’s the most popular open-source PHP development tool. Even though rookies may find it difficult to understand at first due to the framework’s heavy documentation, once you get to know it, it becomes much clearer.
Known for its simple, yet elegant syntax, Laravel comes with an out-of-the-box API. The framework aims to make programming an easier and more pleasant experience, while at the same time allowing you to create large-scale web projects. Unfortunately, performance-wise, it loses to frameworks such as Django or Express.
Additionally, Laravel includes a feature that’s called packages. What they do is help the developer complete the project in a faster and more efficient way. Instead of coding certain features, the developer can use pre-made packages. Different packages are responsible for different functionalities, for example, if your application requires user verification, instead of coding it from scratch, you can use the package that’s responsible for it. Thanks to these packages, Laravel has a lower entry threshold.
Since the Laravel PHP framework is so popular, here are just a few companies that use it: Pfizer, BBC, or 9GAG.
Yet another server-side web framework, Django is a Python-based tool that offers secure and safe solutions for building web applications. What’s worth noting is that Django works on both Windows and Linux, making it a multi-platform framework. It’s also based on the MVT (Model-View-Template) architectural pattern and includes Object-Relational Mapping which helps access sessions, databases, and more.
Django is a very versatile web development framework, as it can be used for programming almost any kind of website, starting from social media, through blogs, to news sites or wikis, and can work with every client-side framework. Additionally, Django follows Python’s philosophy of batteries included which means additional features and tools.
Django web framework is used by many known companies, among them, you can find brands such as YouTube, Instagram, Spotify, or DropBox.
Being one of the most popular Java backend frameworks, Spring works based on the MVC architectural pattern. It can attribute its popularity to flexibility, security, and community support.
Thanks to Spring being modular, you can choose which parts of the framework you would like to use. Some of the framework features include transaction management, Inversion of Control, or Dependency Injection. Thanks to them a developer can deliver great web services to end-users.
In its more complex forms, Spring is often used in corporate environments or in large projects.
Spring Java framework is used by various brands and institutions, from stores like Zalando to universities like MIT.
Frontend Web Development Frameworks
Since we’re now done with listing backend development frameworks, let’s give client-side frameworks a go! In frontend, the programmers work their magic to turn the code into a visible and pleasant web apps UI. The major difference between the frontend frameworks and backend is that the client-side is concerned with the user interface and user experience on the website, whereas the backend relates to the server-side.
That being said, let’s now focus on the frontend web frameworks.
Although React is categorized as an open-source library, it serves the purpose of a framework. Along with its large supporting community and a plethora of plugins, React is widely used among developers. When used with extensions like Create React App, Material UI, or Redux, React becomes a great and robust framework, even though it’s a frontend library.
It was developed by Facebook in 2013 and is maintained by it to this day. What’s worth mentioning is that React has a cross-platform twin known as React Native. It’s widely used in mobile application development.
Since React is Facebook’s framework, it’s pretty obvious that it’s one of the companies that use it. Among others, you can find brands like Skype, Salesforce, Pinterest, and more.
Besides, you’ll definitely get a thumbs up from Mark Zuckerberg if you like and use React.
Angular is definitely a popular framework for delivering advanced web apps based on TypeScript. Created by Google in 2010, Angular is a flexible and reliable framework, often used for developing web applications.
One of the best features of the framework is the Command Line Interface that allows the user to generate parts of the code instead of creating them by hand during the development process. Even though Angular is not SEO-friendly, it can still be tweaked for SEO optimization.
Angular wouldn’t be a recommended option for those who wish to release the MVP unless you’re certain that you’d like to use it.
But who exactly uses Angular? Well, here are some of the many companies that use Angular in their web development: Samsung, PayPal, Forbes, or Gmail.
A big advantage of Vue is that it’s progressive, which means that even if you started your development process with a different framework, you can still use Vue on another part of the project. Due to Vue being a reactive framework, any changes made during the development will be visible in DOM – Document Object Model.
Although not supported by Facebook or Google, Vue is still one of the most popular frameworks. It’s the lightest and fastest out of the big three, i.e. Angular, Vue, and React. All these things make Vue an ideal choice for single-page apps.
Vue is also chosen by a large variety of leading companies, among them you can find brands such as Apple, Google, BMW, or Nintendo.
Imagine you’re on a trail – hiking, or sitting on the beach near the ocean. You take a deep breath of that pure air. Quite refreshing, isn’t it? Now, Svelte is that breath of fresh air but to the Single Page Applications environment.
Designed to be a fast and efficient web development framework, Svelte does things a little bit differently, compared to other popular web frameworks. Typically, frameworks like Angular or Vue use the user’s website to load their own components.
Designed for use by larger companies, Foundation is one of these frameworks that are harder to grasp. However, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a great web development framework, ideal for HTML or CSS, or for those who are already experienced with other frameworks.
Since Foundation is not your typical web framework, you might wonder who uses it? Well, for example, Workday or Macy’s!
Framework vs Library – What’s The Difference?
There is a common misconception when it comes to frameworks and libraries, particularly with jQuery. What seems to be the cause of the problem is the “Inversion of Control”, so let’s explain it briefly.
When using a framework, you’re the one that’s being guided. What it means is that a framework is in charge of the flow. It features a set of rules on how you should follow the development. It’s pretty much like driving Tesla, but it’s actually the car driving you.
The opposite situation happens with libraries. When using these web resources, the application flow is in your hands. You decide on what you want to use and how you want to use it. In this case, it’s the other way around, you drive the ol’ American muscle.
Is one better than the other? It all depends on your needs. Sometimes it’s better to use a framework like Angular or Vue if you want to develop a bigger application. On the other hand, when you want to add something to your project, sometimes it’s better to use a library, like jQuery – which we’re gonna dive into right now.
Many developers choose to start with the jQuery library as it not only features the mentioned animations but can also handle Ajax queries. Additionally, while using jQuery you can refresh one part of the website instead of refreshing the entire platform. To start using it, you only have to add one file with the library to your project and your set!
Taking into consideration everything we mentioned above, jQuery makes a great library for already experienced users. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said when it comes to beginners.
Even though unfriendly towards rookies, jQuery is very popular among big brands such as Twitter, Udemy, Reddit, LinkedIn, and many more.
We’ve compared and listed the most popular web frameworks, both for backend and frontend. Now you should have a general overview of the most popular web development frameworks and that should bring you closer to choosing one for yourself and your business logic. If you’re still hesitating and would like to know more, get in touch with us! We’d be happy to help.
Either way, for your convenience, let’s take a quick look at a small recap of the article:
- Web frameworks provide help with the design of the web pages as well as server-side assistance;
- Frontend framework is designed to create an entire User Experience, both visual and technical, like the things you see in the browser, connection to the server, animations, and more;
- If you need a framework that can assist the website on the server-side, pick backend frameworks like Express or Laravel;
- If it’s a slight tweak or addition to your existing project, you can choose a library like jQuery.
And here we are! We went through the most popular web development frameworks, both backend, and frontend, as well as explained a jQuery library. If you’re still hesitant and don’t know which of them are the best web development frameworks for your project, think thoroughly about your goal.
Different things can apply to different ideas, therefore you can choose one of the web frameworks mentioned above, perhaps a library, or even a framework that didn’t make the list. The point is – you should choose one that corresponds to your end goal.
If you feel like we’ve missed something, go ahead and drop us a message. We’d be happy to hear from you!