Web development is packed with pre-written functionalities that form a beautiful skeleton of an app or a website simply and efficiently. We're talking 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 MVP development services, you’ve probably heard of them as some of the most in-demand and easy to use web frameworks that are perfect for startups.
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).
What Is a Web Development Framework?
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.
Benefits of Using Web Development Frameworks
Using web development frameworks can be very advantageous for developers. Let’s go over a few most notable benefits.
Development frameworks provide developers with a structured approach to web app creation. Surely, this allows for an easier coding process and simplifies code maintenance. Apart from that, they supply developers with handy time-saving tools, including those that help to autocomplete, debug, and test code, which can also improve the quality of the code.
The most popular web frameworks are scalable by design, meaning they can cope with the expansion as the solution grows. They were created to help developers add features (or mend existing ones) with ease, therefore eliminating the necessity to work on the code from square one. Giving a couple of examples, they can:
- give access to built-in libraries, caching tools, server-side validation, etc.;
- simplify the process of breaking down the code into smaller components;
- remove the need to do manual database queries when adding new data models and tables to the app.
What is more, web frameworks have multiple security features already built in. For instance, this includes features like authentication, data encryption, and access control. These can help protect web apps from cyber threats and malicious attacks. Certainly, having a secure environment is highly important for web development.
Lowered Development Cost
Furthermore, the use of development frameworks shortens the timeframes for app creation or the average time to build a website. Certainly, developing web applications this way is faster than custom coding entirely, so the overall costs can be visibly reduced. Plus, because many of these solutions are usually open source, their free use may also be a benefit.
Front-end and Back-end Frameworks
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: backend and frontend frameworks.
Front-end Development Frameworks
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.
- Most popular front-end development frameworks: Angular, React, Vue, Ember, jQuery
Back-end Development Frameworks
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.
- Most popular back-end development frameworks: Django, Express, Rails, Laravel, Spring
Web Development Frameworks: Architectural Patterns to Consider
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 overview them to have a full understanding of their peculiarities.
MVC, or Model-View-Controller, architecture breaks the design into three essential parts, each having logical responsibilities:
- Model handles data manipulations;
- View handles UI components;
- Controller serves as a bridge between Model and View.
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.
- Model is responsible for the abstraction of all data sources.
- View collects user input and visible elements of the application
- ViewModel implements data binding between the Model and View layers and facilitates communication between them.
This approach helps organize the code efficiently and break large-scale apps into smaller modules to make web development and QA 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. Three-Tier architecture means that each part of the custom web application runs on its own physical computing tier. What are they?
- Presentation tier - a top-level part of the application, which is responsible for the way user interaction takes place. It is based on a web browser that runs the HTML code developed on the server-side;
- App server - an internal part of the web application, which processes the data obtained from the presentation layer using pre-written logic and business rules;
- Database - works in conjunction with an app server by storing and supervising the data processed by the application.
Examples: Django, Symphony, ASP.NET
5 Best Back-end Frameworks for Web Development
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 framework candidates below, both for front-end and back-end development. We'll also provide their ratings and data from reputable sources (such as the Stack Overflow survey).
Let's take a closer look at the top web development backend frameworks, which are favored by developer and renowned companies around the globe.
Django-based applications go live faster than with other web development frameworks since it is based on Convention Over Configuration and DRY patterns. Many big names have already utilized Django's ultimate development speed to release their applications.
Stack Overflow rating: 14.65% of devs use Django. "Loved vs. dreaded" category: 53.10% vs. 46.90%
Websites count: 59,052
Top websites: Instagram, Google development
Average developer rates: the median Django hourly rates are 48-73 USD/hr
Stack Overflow rating: 22.99% of devs use Express. "Loved vs. dreaded" category: 59.15% vs. 40.85%
Websites count: 2,106,719
Average developer rates: the median Express JS hourly rates are 67-84 USD/hr
Ruby on Rails
Numerous renowned websites use Ruby on 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.
Stack Overflow rating: 5.83% of devs use Ruby on Rails. "Loved vs. dreaded" category: 55.34% vs. 44.66%
Websites count: 3,831,801
Top websites: Airbnb, GitHub, Groupon, Hulu, Shopify
Average developer rates: the median Ruby on Rails hourly rates are 50-79 USD/hr
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.
Stack Overflow rating: 9.45% of devs use Laravel. "Loved vs. dreaded" category: 54.47% vs. 45.53%
Websites count: 1,664,391
Top websites: Deltanet, Travel, Lender
Average developer rates: the median Laravel hourly rates are 46-70 USD/hr
Spring is another honorable open-source mention on our list of web development frameworks. 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.
Stack Overflow rating: 16.13% of devs use Spring
Top websites: Deleo Korea, Zillow, Intuit, MIT
Average developer rates: the median Spring developer hourly rates 51-72 USD/hr
5 Best Front-end Frameworks for Web Development
So which front-end frameworks are the best options for web development? Let's take a look at the five most popular ones. We'll also include statistics and figures regarding each of the frameworks, including the programming language it's based on, how many websites exist today, and the average hourly rates of developers coding on a given framework.
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 build 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 make 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.
Stack Overflow rating: 42.62% of devs use React. "Loved vs. dreaded" category: 68.19% vs. 31.81%, the most wanted framework by about one on four devs (22.54%)
Websites count: 11,908,579
Top websites: BBC, PayPal, Uber, Instagram, Airbnb, iCloud
Average developer rates: the median ReactJS hourly rates are 48-72 USD/hr
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 app development. However, the Angular framework tends to be larger than other front-end development frameworks, which can affect the overall performance.
Stack Overflow rating: 20.39% of devs use Angular, "Loved vs. dreaded" category: 52.27% vs. 47.73%
Websites count: 321,659
Top websites: Upwork, Lego, YouTube, Google Translate
Average developer rates: the median AngularJS hourly rates are 47-65 USD/hr
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.
It is hard to name the best option when you need to create such types of apps as progressive web applications and SPAs in the shortest time frames. Yet, Vue handles these tasks using its flexible nature, integration-ready components, reactive two-way data flow, and lightweight default size.
Stack Overflow rating: 18.82% of devs use Vue, "Loved vs. dreaded" category: 63.16% vs. 36.84%
Websites count: 3,948,525
Top websites: Alibaba, Reuters, Grammarly, Xiaomi
Average developer rates: the median Vue.js hourly rates are 49-70 USD/hr
To proceed with the list of the best web development frameworks, we can't but name Ember as one of the top 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, granting stability to the system.
Websites count: 36,047
Top websites: ProductHunt, Freelancer.com
Average developer rates: the median Ember hourly rates are 52-67 USD/hr
Plus, jQuery is among the best web frameworks that 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.
Stack Overflow rating: 28.57% of devs use jQuery, “Loved vs. dreaded” category: 34% vs. 66%
Websites count: 90,460,697
Top websites: Udemy, Uber, Bank of America, Twitter
Average developer rates: the median jQuery hourly rates are 41-64 USD/hr
How to Choose the Best Framework for Web Development
With so many options available, how do you shortlist the best-fit ones? 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.
Here are some tips and best practices to help you make up your mind:
- base your choice on the project requirements (study the provided features by the framework to determine whether it meets your needs in terms of code standards and compatibility);
- consider the learning curve (select the framework that matches the experience of your developers, noting how much time will be necessary for going into the in-depth peculiarities);
- look into the scalability opportunities and general performance (some solutions might be excessive or not enough based on your project's load and size);
- mind security (application security is vital, so study the framework's features and security capabilities);
- pay attention to the level of community support (having access to plenty of tutorials and other resources can be beneficial for development);
- compare costs (the use of specific frameworks and coding languages can turn out to be higher, so estimate whether it fits your business or startup budget).
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.
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.
If you have a project in mind but are still confused about the proper web development framework, we can help. Upsilon has extensive experience with front-end and back-end frameworks and is ready to assist you in finding an ideal fit for your project. We provide team augmentation services for growth-stage businesses and small companies alike, plus we use sprint-based pricing. So feel free to get in touch with us to discuss your needs!