Any web developer with a couple of websites and web applications under his belt will know for sure that there is a lot of repetitive work involved in web development which is where development frameworks come in handy. Unless you are developing a highly niche application or website that involves solving a unique set of issues, web development frameworks can save developers from wasting time and effort in reinventing the coding wheel every time a new application or site needs to be developed. With a web development framework, a developer gets access to a pre-built template that can take care of features common to most web applications and websites leaving developers with time and energy to focus on the more unique features of their website or web application. Essentially frameworks help developers reuse codes to access database libraries, create templates for HTML display as well as manage cookies and sessions.
Web application frameworks have in fact emerged as the de facto way to build websites and web-enabled applications. From simple blogs to complex AJAX-rich applications, almost every webpage is created by reusing codes from an existing framework. The bigger question nowadays relates to which web development framework to choose from the multitude that is now so readily available. Developers today are literally spoilt for choices with more than a 100 published web development frameworks available for developers to use and new ones entering the market every day. From the ever popular Ruby on Rails and the Python based Django, to newer entrants that are fast conquering the market like Angular developed by a team of Google engineers or Facebook developed React, the plethora of choices can leave most first time developers confused and scratching their heads. The best place to start the evaluation process for a web development framework that best serves your interests is to think of the end result. What is the purpose of building the web application or website? The objectives of a web project can basically be classified into business, technical and operational and the web development framework that best suits the interests of all 3 should be your first choice.
- Licensing rights is another important consideration while deciding between web frameworks. While most frameworks are pretty liberal in terms of usage, you still need to be certain about payments if any to be made before using the framework and any extensions therein.
- Long term viability of the framework is another important business consideration for you surely don?t want to end up being stuck with an also ran framework like Maverick. When it comes to development frameworks, maturity and documentation of the framework are important considerations. This is one area where not being an early adopter of technology might actually pay off. A framework with a mature community of users ensures that most of the bugs if any have already been fixed and the framework is likely to see more updates to remain relevant for a good enough time into the future. Similarly a mature framework will most often than not be accompanied with comprehensive documentation which makes it working with the framework a lot simpler and bug free.
- Technical considerations like the core library features is often the most important consideration for developers while deciding between one or more frameworks. Since it is because of the core library that developers adopt third party frameworks in the first place, it is the features available in the core library that determines which framework works best for which developer. Some developers prefer a more adaptable and flexible core library which allow some features or libraries to be removed or added. Some other developers might prefer a framework which provides a bare minimum core library allowing the developer a greater amount of control to build any kind of architecture on it while other frameworks offer a more rigid and secure core library which favor more specialized applications.
- Also another important factor to consider is how well it is able to support advanced features. Some of the newer frameworks like Meteor might prove to work better with advanced features and therefore a preferred choice for framework.
- Database Extraction and ORM Capabilities are also important technical considerations when it comes to frameworks. Database agnostic frameworks are always preferable over frameworks that relate to only specific databases.
- Also included under technical considerations is whether a web development framework allows developers to write and conduct unit testing as part of its framework. In addition certain frameworks like CakePhP even allow developers to write custom tests on top of the standards tests to conduct further testing on the additional components of the application.
- Operating objectives relate to the more practical aspects of using a development framework like hosting and ease of installation. Some frameworks require stand alone servers but if your time and budget is limited you can choose web development frameworks that allow for shared hosting like CakePhP and other PHP frameworks. Ease of installation is also very important
- Ease of configuration is also an important consideration while choosing a web development framework especially if you have a relatively short time period to develop and launch a new website.
- Lastly the learning curve is an important consideration when choosing a framework. Every framework comes in built with its own directory structure, naming conventions and other set of peculiarities. It takes time to understand the coding structure of any framework and if you are totally unfamiliar with the language of the code the learning curve is likely to be much steeper which means you might actually end up spending more time adopting the new framework rather than building one of your own. It is best to choose a web development framework that has the smallest possible learning curve as far as you are concerned.
Many developers make the mistake of including scalability as a consideration for choosing a framework. Scalability is actually a function of the architecture of the site or application rather than its framework and should actually be considered when designing the architecture of a website.
That said, developers sometimes assume that choosing a framework alone, impacts the success of a business. While frameworks do matter but they alone cannot really influence site performance to a very great extent. Third party web framework are more for the purpose of saving developer time and effort by reusing existing codes for steps that are repetitive in almost every web application and website.