Frameworks are an essential working tool for any modern web developer. However, it can take a lot of time to study it, plus, you need to make settings for a specific project, and choose the right tool for it. Let’s try to figure out what a framework is, why a modern web developer needs it, and what is the difference between different frameworks.
What is a framework
This is a generally accepted framework and code structure, that is, templates that allow you to standardize workflows. The developer uses ready-made solutions, adapting them to a specific project or task. The framework describes the initial preparation and a set of instructions that simplify the achievement of the final goal: it is easier to finish the site frame than to build everything from scratch.
They also help improve teamwork. The fact is that different people work at different paces, prefer different solutions. Frameworks are designed to standardize the development process in a team. It is much easier to organize the interaction of several people when there is a certain pattern of actions.
It is worth noting that each framework has its own characteristics, which the programmer must take into account. Unfortunately, it will not be possible to master one tool and work with others without problems. They will also need to be studied. The only thing is that the learning process will be easier, since the basis of popular web frameworks is about the same.
What are frameworks used for?
Globally, they face three tasks:
- Increase development speed. Due to the use of ready-made modules and templates, the time to implement certain parts of the site or application is greatly reduced. Instead of writing new functionality from scratch and trying to integrate it into the code, you just need to insert one of the proposed modules. Also, if you use ready-made templates, only editing them for yourself, the chance of making a mistake is lower. The output will be “clean”, and most importantly, workable code that meets the standards of web development.
- Simplification of work. In their structure and principle of operation, popular frameworks are similar to each other. This means that a programmer who owns one tool can quickly figure out how to work with another. Another convenient fact is that if something is missing in the framework, then it can always be supplemented. All popular solutions are open-source projects, which means you can customize them for yourself without restrictions.
- Security. Popular frameworks were made not only with the expectation of simplifying the life of programmers, but also with the expectation of security. They already have built-in protection against popular hacking and data theft methods like XSS attacks, SQL injections and the like by default. By the way, the developer does not have to think through the protection system, since it is already built in and can be expanded if necessary.
Framework and library: is there a difference
Novice web developers can sometimes get confused in terms, since the tasks for frameworks and libraries are similar. However, to think that they are the same thing is a mistake. A library is a set of modules, code snippets, and functionality that can be built into a project. There are both large libraries and small ones for a specific task. However, they do not globally affect the architecture of the project, they do not require serious configuration of the working environment.
In the case of a framework, the code is integrated into the project structure. At the same time, own libraries can be built into the structure of the framework itself, which are internally interconnected. However, they can even be written in different programming languages.
By the way, it is easier to learn how to work with a particular library than how to work with a framework. This is due to the fact that the framework has a more complex structure and at the same time tightly integrates with the project.
They are divided depending on the tasks facing the developer. Let’s consider each of them in order.
They are already responsible for the implementation of the “internals” of the site: storing data, processing them, interacting with databases, receiving information from users. Backend frameworks are predominantly written in Python. It is noteworthy that with the help of these frameworks it will not be possible to make a website or an application with a complex interface, since they are designed exclusively to work with servers. To implement an advanced user interface, you will have to use additional libraries or a bundle with a front-end framework.
The most popular backend frameworks are: Django, Flask, FastAPI.
They allow you to effectively deal with the development of complex projects. They are characterized by high development speed, but the quality of work may suffer. To avoid this, you need to master well not only the framework, but the languages and development environments with which they are best integrated. Cross-platform allows you to run the source code on different operating systems (Windows, Linux, macOS) or platforms (web, desktop or mobile devices).
In turn, cross-platform solutions are divided into synchronous and asynchronous. In the first case, the tasks are executed one by one: until the first request is executed, the execution of the second one will not be started. Synchronous frameworks include Flask, Bottle, Pyramid. Asynchronous commands can execute several commands at the same time. This approach allows you to speed up the work, but this is done at the expense of reliability. Asynchronous include: Tornado, Starlette, Sanic, FastAPI.
Learning cross-platform frameworks is much more difficult than the options in the previous two categories. It is better for a novice developer to start with them, since cross-platform solutions are used mainly in advanced projects with complex architecture.
Splitting the framework
For a better understanding of what a framework is, let’s divide it into its main components. Everyone has a common Model–View–Controller architecture:
- Model. Block responsible for access to databases, files, third-party services. Let’s say you’re running an online store with a shopping cart. All product cards added to it will belong to the Model class. It will also include different statuses, customer reviews and so on.
- View. Responsible for displaying the user interface and interacting with it. The appearance of the page will depend on what you write in the View block.
- Controller. “Connects” the two previous blocks so that data from the server is loaded into the graphic design of the product card and changes depending on the user’s actions. The controller is also responsible for the correct response to user actions, processing requests and issuing results.
Advantages and disadvantages of frameworks
Having studied the structure and scope of frameworks, we will analyze their main advantages and disadvantages.
- The ability to write more compact and understandable code. It is easier to process and easier to edit if necessary.
- The framework has already defined action templates, which also speeds up development and minimizes the likelihood of errors.
- The resulting site works faster than a site written using the standard method.
Frameworks have their own security protocols. In any case, your site will be protected from the most basic types of hacking by default.
There are not so many disadvantages of frameworks, but they also exist:
- Work environment setup required. When using any advanced third-party tool, you need to take care of preparing the working environment. Frameworks in this case are no exception. Although developers are trying to automate the process of preparing the environment as much as possible, it still takes time. That is why frameworks are practically not used to create one-page sites – it is faster to write everything you need yourself than to spend a long time setting up.
- Difficulties with non-standard implementation. Frameworks, to put it very roughly, are a set of patterns. Yes, they can be completely changed to suit your needs, but the logic of work cannot be changed. Because of this, some projects cannot be done correctly with frameworks. Fortunately, this limitation applies to a very small number of potential projects.
What framework to choose as a web developer
If you want to advance in your developer career, you still need to master at least one framework. Here are some selection criteria:
- The purpose of the framework. If you are a front-end developer, it will be strange if you choose a tool for working with the back-end. See what frameworks are most suitable for the tasks you are going to work with. Then filter out from the resulting list according to the criteria below.
- Performance and popularity. The more popular the framework, the more information about it will be, the more active its community and support from developers. Usually, performance and popularity are very well correlated. Few people will write code on a slow and buggy framework. It will be faster and more pleasant for a novice developer to master a productive tool.
- Complexity of support and scalability. It is desirable that the project made on the selected framework is easy to scale and make changes to it. Choose tools that have a low level of module connectivity. In this case, scaling and support will not cause problems.
It is better for a novice developer to choose a popular option like: React, Vue, Django.
How to learn to use frameworks
- Watch tutorials on YouTube or other sources. A lot of useful information is available in the open. Yes, it is not structured, but this will be enough to form a basic understanding of how to work with the selected tool, in which projects to use it, how to implement certain solutions.
- Study the documentation. It is available on the official website of the framework developers. If we are talking about a popular solution. The documentation will help you understand the basic work.
- Training courses. There are free options, but they are without in-depth study. You will have to pay for advanced courses, but you will receive up-to-date and structured information.
- Professional communities. It can be used as a consultation on the issues that have arisen. Also, professional events and competitions sometimes take place there, where you can hone your own skills in performing various tasks.