5 Aug · 13 min read
There are a lot of pre-written functionalities in web development, like frameworks, that include standardized coding practices and end-to-end templates. Using a web development framework, you don’t have to create the functionalities from scratch, but rather run them in the background. In this article we are going to have a look at the best web development frameworks, and probably help you see which of them can be suitable for your project.
Web development is packed with pre-written functionalities that form a beautiful skeleton of an app or a website simply and efficiently. We talk about web frameworks, which include standardized coding practices and end-to-end templates. All of them are ready to be replicated and adjusted for a particular business case.
With a framework for web development, you don’t have to create critical functionalities from scratch, but rather run the complexities in the background. There are other potential benefits of using ready-made tools like React, Django, or Spring Boot. Even if you’ve never required web development services, you’ve probably heard of them as some of the most in-demand web frameworks.
Let’s explore their core features and name other refined techniques that power modern web development. But first let’s start by denoting the essence of this technology and mark a divide between the two sides of web applications - namely, their server- and client-side parts.
A web development framework is a piece of software with a set of resources and tools that is designed to facilitate the creation and delivery of web applications, services, and APIs. Just as with mobile app development frameworks, it systemizes all aspects of web development and brings together disparate components of a comprehensive software project into a single body.
In simple terms, a framework for web development lets you deal with everything that needs to be dealt with to create a web-based product. Thus, you don’t have to create basic components from scratch, test them, and spend time on repetitive coding tasks.
Originally introduced as a way to automate routine workflows, web development frameworks have evolved. They can shift focus from manipulations with databases, organization of components, and security options. Besides, they can serve particular business and technical needs and even integrate multiple frameworks to fulfill sophisticated demands.
Another outcome of the ongoing web development evolution is its division into back-end and front-end parts. The app logic has gradually shifted to the front-end development to facilitate efficient communication between the end-user and the web app itself. On the other hand, the task of connecting both ends remains crucial as well, which is reflected in the majority of web frameworks.
Let’s take a deeper look at the roles and functions of both front- and back-end functions of web development.
While the front-end, or client-side, part is responsible for managing user interactions with a web-based product, the back-end (server-side) part takes care of its inner workings. They work in tandem to create a fully-functioning web application.
Based on that classification, the most popular web frameworks are also divided into two categories:
Front-end development frameworks provide a pre-written structure for creating the front-end part of a web application. They organize the functionality, manage user interactivity and style components, and set up the data flow based on user input. Therefore, front-end frameworks serve to create intuitive interfaces, as well as efficiently locate, manage, and update data received from the server or API.
Back-end development frameworks provide scaffolding for delivering the server-side architecture of a web app. They handle all manipulations between the server and the database, create URL mapping, and do what it takes to set up the right structure to implement the specificity of business logic. As a fully-functioning web application deals with different services, a back-end developer ensures smooth communication between them and keeps an eye on user interaction as well.
Now that we’ve touched upon the most prevalent characteristics of web development frameworks, let’s explore the different architecture types that fit in this paradigm.
Web development frameworks rely on a certain structure that ensures the simultaneous work of multiple applications, services, and databases for apps of any scale and complexity. It is worth mentioning that there exist different patterns of interaction between different components of a web framework. Let’s make an overview of them below to have a full understanding of their peculiarities.
MVC architecture breaks the design into three essential parts, each having logical responsibilities:
Serving as an industry standard, this architectural approach is used in the majority of the best web frameworks. It enables extensive code reuse and more flexibility with component modularity. It also allocates separate concern areas for the Model and the View.
Examples: Ruby on Rails, Angular, Laravel, jQuery, Spring.
This architectural pattern is designed to divide the data presentation logic part from business logic. It breaks the code into three modules: Model, View, and ViewModel.
This approach helps to organize the code efficiently and break large-scale apps into smaller modules to make web development and testing of code simpler. It is created specifically to enable direct communication of the View and Model layers.
Examples: Vue, Ember.
This approach implies that the architecture is split into three separate logical and infrastructural tiers. It means that each part of the custom web application runs on its own physical computing tier. What are they?
Examples: Django, Symphony, ASP.NET.
With vast choices available for different project needs, the struggle to find the best framework for web development is real. To give you some direction in your search, we’ve shortlisted the top candidates below.
Django-based applications go live faster than with other web development frameworks since it is based on “Convention Over Configuration” and the DRY patterns. Many big names like Instagram and Google development have already utilized Django’s ultimate development speed to release their applications.
Language: Python (the 3rd most popular language according to Stackoverflow)
GitHub stars: 63.7k
Stackoverflow rating: 13.02% of devs use Django. “Loved vs dreaded” category: 55% vs 45%
Websites count: 58,396
GitHub stars: 56.9k
Stackoverflow rating: 23.82% of devs use Express. “Loved vs dreaded” category: 62% vs 38%
Websites count: 1,886,981
Top websites like Airbnb, GitHub, Groupon, Hulu, and Shopify use Rails as a preferred option for their high-speed applications. Although it was released more than 15 years ago, its community is still growing and contributing to the framework's status as the best framework for web development.
This is also because Rails supports the execution of cloud-based web applications with complex structures. There are many useful libraries, tools, packages, and other gems that facilitate the creation of robust high-performing solutions for almost any industry.
GitHub stars: 50.6k
Stackoverflow rating: 7,89% of devs use Rails. “Loved vs dreaded” category: 55% vs 45%
Websites count: 4,052,560
Laravel is a PHP-enabled web development framework, which has a smooth learning curve due to its readable syntax and a strong ecosystem of learning materials. It comes with built-in API support and a ton of out-of-the-box packages that extend its functionality.
When it comes to large Enterprise-level apps, Laravel may not show the same level of performance as Express or the Python/Django pack. But if the project requires non-trivial logic, Laravel can show better results and implement the necessary features faster than other contenders.
GitHub stars: 69.6k
Stackoverflow rating: 10,89% of devs use Laravel. “Loved vs dreaded” category: 54% vs 46%
Websites count: 1,541,548
Top websites: Deltanet, Travel, Lender.
Spring is another honorable open-source mention on our list. It provides support for Java applications with simple logic and fast execution times. With the introduction of the Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) model, the framework’s popularity started to surge due to a number of reasons. First, it helps to form a solid skeleton for creating enterprise-grade apps. Second, it relies on a powerful extension suite, which is coupled with a POJO-based programming model.
Other powerful features like Dependency injection, Aspect-Oriented programming, and strong modularity enable Spring to foster decoupling and produce stable code for high-performing apps. It is worth mentioning that the size of the web development framework tends to be relatively small, which makes Spring lightweight and transparent.
GitHub stars: 47.5k
Stackoverflow rating: 14,56% of devs use Spring. “Loved vs dreaded” category: 60% vs 40% (the 7th place among other contenders)
Top websites: Deleo Korea, Zillow, Intuit, MIT.
It would be a mistake not to mention React on the list of the most popular web development frameworks. Although it is not a framework from a technical perspective, many developers recognize its potential to create apps with component-based architecture. Our company is no exception since we actively use React for web development in numerous cases.
Being a rich UI library in the first place, React can be used on the client-side as well as the server-side. This technology is vital for creating compelling user interfaces as well as tailor-made app components that break the functional design into easily manageable chunks. Alike, React’s virtual DOM helps to create apps that remain live even under the heaviest load.
React also features one-way data flow, which helps to produce stable code that is easier to test and debug. Although it has a steep learning curve, massive support from Facebook developers and other contributors makes it one of the most trendy technologies for web development.
GitHub stars: 188k
Stackoverflow rating: 40,14% of devs use React (the 1st place on the leaderboard). “Loved vs dreaded” category: 70% vs 30% (the 4th place among other contenders), the most wanted framework by one on four devs.
Websites count: 10,418,340
Top websites: BBC, PayPal, Uber, Instagram, Airbnb, iCloud
It uses two-way data binding to enable the connection between architecture components, which helps add dynamic changes to the back-end upon each user interaction. The availability of tools and packages for practically any use case makes the framework an all-inclusive option for cross-platform solutions. However, the Angular framework tends to be larger than other front-end development frameworks, which can affect the overall performance.
GitHub stars: 81.2k
Stackoverflow rating: 11.5% of devs use Angular, “Loved vs dreaded” category: 56% vs 44%.
Websites count: 302,063
Top websites: Upwork, Lego, YouTube, Google Translate.
Vue is one of the youngest and most promising open-source development frameworks with extensive community backup. There are many adopters of this technology as it is easier to learn than Angular and has a more lightweight character than React, to name a few.
By the way, we’d already had an in-depth overview of the React vs Angular vs Vue core traits, so you may explore the details of the comparison of these popular options for front-end development.
It is hard to name the best option when you need to create progressive web applications and SPAs in the shortest time frames. Vue handles these tasks using its flexible nature, integration-ready components, reactive two-way data flow, and lightweight default size.
GitHub stars: 196k
Stackoverflow rating: 19% of devs use Vue, “Loved vs dreaded” category: 64% vs 36% (the 4th place on the list).
Websites count: 3,409,825
Top websites: Alibaba, Reuters, Grammarly, Xiaomi.
To proceed with the list of the best web development frameworks, we can’t but name Ember as one of the best tools for fast-paced software delivery. It is based on the DRY principle and Convention over Configuration concept, which contributes to the speed of coding and development.
The framework comes with a large ecosystem of useful add-ons, a powerful CLI tool, and a variety of out-of-the-box features. It also has frequent releases, and built-in backward compatibility, which grant stability to the system.
GitHub stars: 22.2k
Websites count: 134,000
Top websites: Microsoft, Google, Netflix, Heroku.
jQuery lets you build interactive web applications through an extensive use of markup technologies like CSS and Ajax. Developers can utilize its simple syntax to add styled animations and other visual elements to a newly developed solution.
GitHub stars: 56.2k
Stackoverflow rating: 34.42% of devs use jQuery ( the 2nd place on the list), “Loved vs dreaded” category: 35% vs 65%.
Websites count: 69,193,395
Top websites: Udemy, Uber, Bank of America, Twitter.
In this article, we explored the top ten web development frameworks. All these mentions remain trendy in the software development community and there is a massive demand for front- and back-end specialists in the IT job market.
However, as each project strives to meet unique objectives, the tech stack choice and the best framework for web development should be based on thorough research. This is especially relevant during the project discovery phase.
Now that you know the top options for each scenario, you won’t get stuck with a heavyweight framework like Angular to develop a simplistic page on the web. Conversely, there is no need to opt for a lightweight platform with limited out-of-the-box functionality to deliver large-scale Enterprise applications.
The article was first published here