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Web applications are more important now than ever, and this will only be more true in the future. They’re also becoming much more advanced. As these applications continue to evolve, so does the level of development used to create and deploy them.
Frameworks allow developers to build robust, interactive applications on both the front and back end. They are designed to support the development of applications such as web services, web resources, and web APIs, making the entire process efficient and seamless.
With today’s fast-moving application development landscape, there’s an unending need for scalable software that meets complex user and enterprise demands. As you can imagine, this has resulted in a crowded framework marketplace, with seemingly endless choices in terms of software and coding languages.
Having trouble deciding on which framework to use? We’re here to help. Below, you’ll find our top picks for the best frameworks currently available, in a wide range of languages.
Developed and maintained by Facebook, React is technically a front-end library instead of a traditional framework, but it’s constantly used by developers as a framework of sorts. It was the first to use a component-based architecture, something that was later adopted by popular frameworks like Vue and Angular, which are also on this list. React can be utilized server-side or client-side.
Pros: Highly scalable and able to meet the massive demand, as evidenced by its use from sites like Netflix, Facebook, Airbnb, and Reddit. React users can also use ReactNative — a framework used to build apps on iOS and Android.
First developed by Google and later released as an open-source framework, Angular is popular for use in building large-scale, single-page apps that are also easy to maintain. Weather, PayPal, Netflix, and PS3’s YouTube all utilize Angular. Those who are familiar with the MEAN dev stack are well aware of Angular, which is joined by ExpressJS, MongoDB, and NodeJS.
Pros: Angular’s popularity and widespread use means that there is plenty of developer support available. The Angular site is rife with documentation support, and you’ll find several exhaustive how-to videos on YouTube. Angular also supports TypeScript and model view controller architecture.
By far one of the most known and utilized frameworks out there, Django is a model-view-template (MVT), mostly used for creating web apps. Recognized for its excellent built-in security and “batteries-included” feature, Django is highly intuitive, versatile, and easily-scalable. Pinterest, Instagram, and Quora all use it.
Pros: Django’s use of Python language allows for clean and efficient coding, backed by above-average security. The batteries-included set of features is extremely impressive, and the built-in admin interface is universally loved by Django’s massive (and helpful) community of users.
Cons: There really aren’t many. The framework itself is rather rigid on some fronts, and it can also feel a bit bloated if you’re using it for smaller dev projects.
Ruby on Rails is a model-view-controller (MVC) framework, written by David Heinemeier Hansson, and used for web applications. It uses a proprietary language (Ruby) that allows the development of apps in a much quicker timeframe. The “rails” part of the name refers to library-like dependencies that can expand the abilities of your application, improving dev efficiency and making things go much quicker. Shopify, Airbnb, and Groupon all use Ruby on Rails.
Cons: Ruby apps take a lot of effort to deploy and use in a production environment. There’s also a big learning curve when digging deeper into the framework.
Originally released in 2011 by Taylor Otwell, Laravel is an MVC framework that utilizes the popular PHP language. This framework is excellent for beginners, but savvy developers can still find a lot to appreciate.
Pros: Easy to get started with, and its Laracasts tutorial library is a huge resource, full of videos that cover everything from PHP to other frontend technologies compatible with Laravel. Laravel also comes with API support.
Cons: Not the best framework for larger projects. Advanced users may find it a bit limiting.
Developed and released by Microsoft, ASP.NET is a framework designed for creating web applications using .NET for PCs and mobile devices. It’s sleek, minimalistic, and high-performing. Getty Images, Taco Bell, and Stack Overflow all have applications built with ASP.NET.
Pros: Productive, quick, and surprisingly powerful.
Cons: As the name implies, it’s only for .NET applications. The PC-only aspect is limiting as well.
Node.js is surging in popularity these days, so it’s no surprise that Express is as well. Express is a minimal and highly versatile framework that can be used to quickly develop Node.js-based web applications. It’s very minimal in its original form but does have several features that can be implemented as plugins. Storify, IBM, and Uber all utilize Express, and it’s even compatible with Kraken, Sails, and Loopback frameworks.
Pros: Express is one of the most flexible and minimal frameworks available, and its plugin system, compatibility with other frameworks, and MEAN stack implementation indicates that it will clearly be a key framework for years to come.
Cons: The loose and unguided architecture of Express may be overwhelming for beginners, as there’s no defined way of using it.
Vue first debuted in 2014, primarily intended as a cleaner alternative for Angular users. This progressive framework can be adopted into isolated portions of existing projects without any issue, and the Vue ecosystem can also be used to develop applications on the frontend.
Pros: At just 20KB, this is one of the lightest frameworks in existence. It’s easy to use for beginners, versatile enough for advanced users, and can be utilized to build templates and components.
Cons: Google and Facebook do not currently support Vue, but this is expected to change in the future, as the framework grows in popularity as a viable Angular.
By far the most popular app development choice for Java, Spring is an MVC framework used by several large entities, such as Wix and Ticketmaster. It’s an advanced framework that includes numerous sister projects that can improve performance and scale rapidly.
Pros: Java experts can utilize Spring to develop elite-level applications that are built to handle massive user bases and traffic.
Cons: Beginner, and even intermediate, developers will face a steep learning curve if they are inexperienced with Java.
Pros: Although it’s one of the most powerful and capable frameworks, Ember has the ability to minimize time-wasting. Moreover, solutions built with Ember can be converted into native applications.
Cons: Ember has a sizable learning curve when you first get started, an aspect that’s furthered by the modules that extend the framework.
Frameworks remain the tool of choice for frontend and backend application development, which is why there are now so many in existence. Fortunately, the majority of these tools are efficient and intuitive, so the choice often comes down to personal preferences and the scope of work.
Regardless, it’s best to remain versatile and skilled enough to use multiple frameworks as needed, making continuous learning, and experimenting essential to professional growth. Choose one of the frameworks listed above, and you’ll be using a tool that’s relevant, powerful, and incredibly useful.
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