The essential definition of a website frame work is, a tool that helps you build a better website. Web frameworks aim to automate the common activities performed in web development to build a website and create various design features and functionality. Web frameworks are made to cater to a wide range of needs of designers and developers, so they can be common content management systems (e.g. WordPress) that even non developers can use, through to advanced language specific frameworks which experienced developers can use as building blocks to develop huge custom systems.
Features of a Web Frameworks
There are two main functions of frameworks: to work on the server side (backend), or on the end user side (frontend). Frontend frameworks deal mostly with the front facing part of a website or application, essentially, it’s what a user sees when they view a website. The back end is hidden behind the front end and is where a lot of the hard work takes place. Nearly all web development frameworks are database driven which allows end users to add, delete and maintain information in the front end of the website but store it behind the scenes in the database (the backend).
Although all frameworks have their differences, there are several commonalities between them:
- Scaffolding – Scaffolding generally refers to a quickly set up skeleton for a website or app. This is the essential building blocks of development which allows a developer to quickly put a frame in place to build custom parts on top of it.
- Templates – As with scaffolding, many frameworks provide pre built templates that aid quick design of a site. Some can have a very basic look with limited functions and some can be innovative designs with unusual features.
- Web Caching – Web caching helps store various information to provide quicker website loading on the front end and avoid servers overloading when lots of work is being undertaken in the back end.
- URL Mapping – Due to the structured nature of frameworks, it can easily be indexed by search engines which will help with any search engine optimisation (SEO) campaigns you undertake.
- Security- Most development frameworks have the necessary requirements to secure website and applications against the most common vulnerabilities and they are continually updated to ensure they can defend against the latest attacks. It should be noted, however, that your developer should not rely on the frameworks to protect against all vulnerabilities and ensure that all development work is focused on security.
- Applications – Plenty of web applications are supported by web frameworks. The most widely recognised frameworks for app development support the development of forums, blogs, website features but the possibilities are endless.
Advantages of frameworks
- Its Quick. This could be considered the most vital reason why frameworks exist. They eliminate the need to write a lot of repetitive code that you will find being used in many different applications. These include, for example, user-authentication and commenting systems. On average (if you have sufficient knowledge using a certain framework) you can expect to build a project in much less time than would be achieved writing code without a framework
- Customisable Open-Source: Most of the popular frameworks in many languages are open-source, meaning they are freely available and may be use and modified, normally free of charge and come with unrestricted licensing. This allows developers to make commercial products that are easily customisable.
- Documentation and support: Although this can vary, many of the most popular frameworks have good documentation and/or good support. Typically, paid support will always provide you with a quicker response time with more concise detail, but for popular frameworks there are large communities of developers out there that will have experienced similar issues so problems can be solved quickly with the help of other web professionals.
Disadvantages of framework
- Limitations: Although incredibly customisable, there are limits for most frameworks. This could be restrictions on coding language, database structure and documentation for less popular ones.
- Changing Frameworks: Often the framework chosen is based on a developer’s preference, however, should that developer leave or you change provider, you will need to find someone who can work in that language/framework. If you have to change the framework it can stall a project and cost money in time.
- Cost: Using Frameworks technologies that are no based on a commonly used Content Management System (CMS) require more development expertise and experience. As a result, it can be more costly to hire reliable framework developers than reliable CMS developers.
There are countless Language specific frameworks out there for both server side and front end side, here are a few popular ones:
- Java : Spring, JSF, Struts
- PHP : Laravel, CodeIgniter, Symfony
- Python : Django, Flask, Bottle
- Ruby : Ruby on Rails, Sinatra, Cuba
Many common prebuilt CMS and ecommerce sites use a combination of back end and front end language frameworks to create a full stack frameworks. Here are some examples of full stack frameworks:
- Full stack CMS
- Full stack Ecommerce frameworks
These are some of the most powerful and popular frameworks which allow users to easily manage a basic website and/or shop but more advanced features or a custom system you will need to work with designers and developers to get the perfect project.
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