What is a Framework? Why We Use Software Frameworks

In this blog post, we will discuss what a framework is in programming and what the most common frameworks are. We’ll also be talking about why developers use frameworks and some potential challenges that can arise. 

What is a framework?

A framework, or software framework, is a platform that provides a foundation for developing software applications. Think of it as a template of a working program that can be selectively modified by adding code. It uses shared resources – such as libraries, image files, and reference documents – and puts them together in one package. That package can be modified to suit the specific needs of the project. With a framework, the developer can add or replace features to give new functionality to the application.

What are the different types of frameworks?

With the huge variety of programming languages out there, naturally, you’ll find that there are a large number of frameworks available. Each of these frameworks is used to solve different problems that come up in the process of software development. They’re used in many industries, including web development, data science, and more. Here, we’ll go into some of the broader categories of frameworks with examples of specific frameworks within them. 

Back-End Web Frameworks

Back-end web frameworks, or just web frameworks, are the most commonly used programming frameworks. But what are web frameworks? Web frameworks assist developers in making web applications and dynamic websites. These frameworks completely transformed the way web development is done, speeding up the entire software development process by automating common tasks for web developers, like providing database access, session management, and page templates. Instead of building websites using HTML, JavaScript and CSS, back-end frameworks use programming languages to interact with a database to generate content. This means that this work is hosted on a server, hence why it’s the back-end portion. Common back-end web frameworks include:

Front-End Frameworks

Where back-end web frameworks are loaded on a server, front-end frameworks are executed in a user’s browser. They allow web developers to design what the users see on the website, things like the management of AJAX requests, defining file structures, and styling the website’s components. As they’re a framework, they give web developers a base to develop on while giving them control over what the final output looks like. 

The most common front-end frameworks are:

  • Angular JS – a front-end JavaScript framework. It was developed and is supported by Google. Features like two-way data binding and dependency injections have greatly helped reduce development time, making this a popular option in the web development community. 
  • React – another front-end JavaScript framework developed by the team at Facebook to help them make changes to the site’s code easily. One of its more popular features is the use of virtual DOM, allowing for more seamless site performance and ensuring that high-load applications render faster. 
  • Bootstrap – a front-end CSS framework that is a collection of reusable HTML, CSS, and Javascript code. Having all this code pre-defined in a downloadable file allows for developers and designers to save time creating fully-responsive websites. 

Mobile Development Frameworks

With the rise of mobile rapidly gaining traction, mobile development frameworks have seen an equally impressive uptick. Like their desktop counterparts, mobile development frameworks give developers a structure that supports the mobile app-building process. They can be split into two different types, native mobile apps (meaning the app would be built for either Apple or Android) and cross-platform frameworks (resulting in an app that’s compatible with any phone). Common mobile development frameworks are: 

  • Flutter – A cross-platform app framework that forms native code, meaning you can use one programming language and code base to create an app for both Apple and Android. It was developed by Google and is free and open-source. 
  • React Native – A cross-platform app framework that also forms a native code developed by the team at Facebook. It was created with both JavaScript and ReactJS programming languages and comes with ready-made components that can save developers time as they don’t have to create elements from scratch.

What makes a good framework?

A good framework is: 

  • Simple to understand, consistent, and easy to implement.
  • Has a default behaviour that is useful and does something. It should not contain redundant code that doesn’t perform a function.
  • Uses all the best practices from the past, with the ability to evolve in the future.
  • Allows the developer to build components that are reusable.
  • The flow of control is handled by the framework – meaning the framework takes control of the order of processing, not the caller.
  • It can be extended – adding additional code – to provide different functionality.
  • It contains default framework code that can’t be modified, only extended.

Why should you use a framework?

Frameworks greatly reduce the time and energy spent in developing software. It provides a generic working system that the user can then develop for a specific application by extending the code. All the lower-level details are already included. This allows the developer to devote more time to writing code specific to the project, not in dealing with the mundane, repetitive functions of the framework. They also make the code clean and easily adaptable by following the coding convention of the framework. Finally, frameworks help develop the project quickly, reducing programming time while reducing costs.

Potential challenges with frameworks

  • Frameworks are a one-size-fits-all solution yet have some restrictions. You can’t do anything and everything with a single framework, so some may not be a good fit for certain applications.
  • They are not good for small projects because setting up the framework will take longer than custom coding for the project.
  • As a new user of the framework, there is a steep learning curve. The developer must take the time to understand how to use it correctly before being productive.
  • Any bugs or security issues with a framework can affect every application built on that framework.

Frameworks are a huge help to developers in designing products. They provide an infrastructure that has already figured out the low-level details, allowing the developer to focus on the unique details of the specific project. The developer also has to write less code. And less code means less chance for bugs and less development time, which saves money.

Even though frameworks are tedious to learn at first, they become more valuable as they become more familiar. Future projects become faster and easier to complete. And more work in less time makes for a happy developer.

If you’re interested in deepening your knowledge of frameworks, all our Full Stack Development Course comes with modules on Bootstrap, Flask, Jest, Django. Download the brochure through the form below.

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