By Doug Wintemute

Published on September 8, 2021

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By 2030, there could be as many as 45 million developers working around the world. Since the first websites went live in 1991, more than 1.7 billion sites have been created, many of them using web frameworks.

Web frameworks streamline the website coding process by providing templates for common website features. In this guide, we look at what frameworks can accomplish and why they can be helpful for web developers. We then discuss the 11 most popular web frameworks.

What Is a Web Framework?

Web frameworks are pre-built sections of code that allow computer programmers to quickly insert some of the most common components in website and application development. These frameworks may cover functions, forms, menus, and security, freeing up time for developers to make their creations unique.

While frameworks may take away some of the personalization of development, they allow developers to insert a foundation on which to build and then customize where it matters most. Frameworks can help manage back-end elements like web server communication, mail, authentication, and passwords. Or they may focus on front-end presentation and user interface.

Why Is a Web Framework Needed?

The most popular web frameworks save time by taking care of rudimentary tasks and functions so the developer doesn't need to code everything from scratch. They also help create a direction for developers to follow and stay organized.

In a collaborative environment, web frameworks standardize the code format and the approach, allowing multiple people to work from the same foundation. This frees up team members to focus on the facets of the application that they specialize in, such as design, plugins, and maintenance.

11 Most Popular Web Frameworks

Every year, new frameworks are introduced and existing frameworks fall out of favor. The best option depends on the developer or designer and their particular project needs, but the following list examines some of the most popular web frameworks.

Angular

A front-end web framework that specializes in single-page applications, Angular uses HTML and TypeScript. The readability of the code also allows for easier, faster testing and code review.

Angular is an open-source web framework. Since Angular was developed by Google, users have confidence that they will get long-term support and future versions.

ASP.NET Core

Developed by Microsoft, ASP.NET Core accommodates multiple programming languages and can help developers produce various applications. The framework features cross-platform compatibility, allowing collaborating developers to use different operating systems for the same project.

Using ASP.NET Core can lead to far less code writing, since forms, submission, and authentication are covered in the framework. This can keep the development cleaner, more manageable, and more secure in the long run.

Django

A back-end web framework for use with Python, Django is open-source. Since Django has been built with Python, a good beginner programming language, new and veteran web developers alike can pick up this framework quickly.

Django contains everything that most developers need to create their applications, including security, which it performs automatically. Django can run on different platforms and can accommodate the addition of multiple components without interference.

Express

A minimal back-end framework for the Node.js runtime environment, Express uses shorter lines of code to make for simpler development. Express is open-source and uses JavaScript. Express can create APIs and single- and multi-page applications in a straightforward and organized manner.

For newer or inexperienced developers, Express's development tools are intuitive and easy to use. While developers can customize their applications, the framework includes many pre-built functions and engine templates for faster use.

jQuery

jQuery helps developers use JavaScript and document object model (DOM) manipulations more easily. The open-source and tested library minimizes the amount of code writing needed to manage animations, APIs, and event handling across different browsers. This framework can reduce complex operations and functions into single lines of code for leaner and more lightweight development.

jQuery can also help enhance a site's search engine optimization and interactivity. jQuery can be incorporated into websites and applications that use older code to improve and maintain various components without redoing the entire application.

Laravel

Laravel is a PHP framework that allows for rapid application development on projects of all sizes and types. This framework helps developers create more manageable and simpler code structures without losing functionality.

The framework offers powerful app testing and customization features and can reduce time spent fixing coding errors. Laravel also comes with built-in security that includes password storage and encryption.

Node.js

Node.js is an open-source server environment that uses JavaScript to create dynamic page content on various platforms. Ideal for multi-user communication apps, such as social media, multiplayer games, and chat apps, this framework can manage many connections at the same time.

Node.js allows for two-way communication and offers push capabilities. With an easier learning curve than other frameworks, developers can spend less time on development overall.

React

React is an open-source front-end web framework that excels in creating mobile and single-page applications. The extensive user interface library features a reliable support system and comprehensive resources, along with a massive component library. Developers can also access powerful third-party developer tools and plugins.

React allows developers to save time in various ways, including by using reusable code and virtual DOM. This system tests proposed changes and determines the most effective way to implement them ahead of time, eliminating possible mistakes and performance downgrades.

Ruby on Rails

Known for its back-end capabilities, Ruby on Rails is an open-source full-stack framework that works well for both startups and large companies. By providing access to a huge assortment of plugins and third-party libraries, Ruby on Rails can significantly cut back on development time.

Web developers can benefit from a powerful and active Ruby on Rails community that works together to debug and patch issues. The community also identifies performance problems and inefficiencies in the code.

Ruby on Rails enables easy modifications and scalability, which makes it a good choice for long-term projects. It also features default security settings to help you secure your web application.

Spring

An open-source framework using Java, Spring excels in enterprise application development and is highly scalable.

Spring's modular approach separates an application's different functions into self-contained and more manageable pieces. For bigger challenges, Spring can integrate with other frameworks to improve problem-solving capabilities.

Vue.js

A popular front-end web framework, Vue.js shines because of its compact size and fast download and loading times. Great for new programmers, this framework works with common editors and browser plugins and requires only a working knowledge of some primary programming languages.

Vue.js offers access to a comprehensive resource library and integrates with other frameworks and JavaScript applications. This flexible framework provides developers the option to use HTML templates, CSS, and JSX. Through single-file components, this framework stores code efficiently and reduces code writing times.

Frequently Asked Questions About Web Frameworks

What is the best framework for back-end development?

The best framework depends on the user, but many developers choose Django when looking for a powerful and easy-to-use back-end framework. Django features diverse and accessible libraries and offers great components, such as authentication and analytics. Django uses Python, a powerful, popular, and easy-to-read programming language.

What is the best full-stack web framework?

Many frameworks allow developers to integrate other frameworks to simulate a full-stack experience, but Ruby on Rails offers a complete full-stack framework. The framework's main strength is its rapid progress from design to development. Users can manage the database, front-end, back-end, and administration through this one framework.

What is the best web framework for mobile app development?

Mobile app developers can choose from several frameworks, but React provides a powerful solution. The accessible and vast user interface libraries and simpler coding requirements can save time, while the cross-platform compatibility, quicker load times, and responsiveness ensure that end users will be happy with the final product.


Reviewed by:

Born and raised in upstate New York, Brian Nichols began his IT education through a vocational high school where he focused on computer science, IT fundamentals, and networking. Brian then went to his local community college, where he received his associate of science in computer information science. He then received his bachelor of science in applied networking and system administration from a private college. Brian now lives in Kansas City, where he works full-time as a DevOps engineer. Brian is also a part-time instructor in cybersecurity. He's passionate about cybersecurity and helping students succeed.


Brian Nichols is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network.