What is a Framework? [Definition] Types of Frameworks
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As a programmer, you don’t need to start from scratch when you have tools designed to help you with your projects. Frameworks are software that are developed and used by developers to build applications.
What is a Framework?
Since they are often built, tested, and optimized by several experienced software engineers and programmers, software frameworks are versatile, robust, and efficient.
Using a software framework to develop applications lets you focus on the high-level functionality of the application. This is because any low-level functionality is taken care of by the framework itself.
Why do we use Frameworks?
Developing software is a complex process. It necessitates a plethora of tasks, including coding, designing, and testing. For only the coding part, programmers had to take care of the syntax, declarations, garbage collection, statements, exceptions, and more.
Software frameworks make life easier for developers by allowing them to take control of the entire software development process, or most of it, from a single platform.
Advantages of using a software framework:
- Assists in establishing better programming practices and fitting use of design patterns
- Code is more secure
- Duplicate and redundant code can be avoided
- Helps consistent developing code with fewer bugs
- Makes it easier to work on sophisticated technologies
- One could create their software framework or contribute to open-source frameworks. Hence, there is a continuous improvement in the functionality
- Several code segments and functionalities are pre-built and pre-tested. This makes applications more reliable
- Testing and debugging the code is a lot easier and can be done even by developers who do not own the code
- The time required to develop an application is reduced significantly
What goes in a Framework?
When you install a software framework, the first thing that you need to take care of is the system requirements. Once a framework is installed and configured, it creates a directory structure.
For example, fig. (i) illustrates the directory structure of the Laravel Framework. Each of these folders could have additional directories. Directories can further have files, classes, test routines, templates, and more.
Difference between a Library and a Framework
Some may assume that a software framework is a collection of libraries just as libraries are a collection of precompiled routines. However, this is not true as not all software frameworks use or depend on libraries.
The difference between a library and a framework is that the latter calls the code. Opposite to this, the code calls the software library. Let us understand this with an example:
curl is a library in PHP. When you use one of the curl functions, the PHP code calls that particular function in the curl library. Your code is the caller, and the library code is the callee.
When you use a PHP framework, such as Laravel, the relationship gets inverted, and so the software framework calls the application code written in the framework. This is technically known as Inversion of Control (IoC).
Programming language vs Frameworks
A programming language tells the computer what it should do. Every programming language features a syntax and a particular set of rules, which need to be followed every time the code is written.
A software framework is built on top of a programming language. For example,
Rails, also known as Ruby on Rails, is a web framework built on top of the Ruby programming language.
Types of Frameworks
As a developer, you should be on the lookout for frameworks that best suit your needs. Whether it is working on a website, data science, database management, or mobile applications, software frameworks exist for all genres of software programming.
There are many types of software frameworks to make it easier for developing applications for a wide range of application development domains. Let us dive into some of the software frameworks that are in vogue today:
Web Application Frameworks
Angular is a typescript-based, open-source JS framework that makes it easy to build applications on the web. Angular solves application development challenges by combining declarative templates, dependency injection, end-to-end tooling, and much more.
Angular empowers developers to build applications that live on the web, mobile, and desktop.
Some popular websites developed using AngularJS are:
Django is a free and open-source web application framework written in Python. Built by a team of experienced developers, Django takes care of web development so that developers can focus on writing applications without reinventing the wheel.
Large organizations actively use Django in its development. Some popular websites developed using Django are:
Laravel is a PHP-based web application framework with an expressive, elegant syntax. The open-source framework and follows a model-view-controller design pattern that is robust and easy to understand.
According to Google Trends, Laravel has secured the position for the most powerful PHP framework, which offers a standardized and feature-packed platform for high-performing PHP web application development.
Some popular websites developed using Laravel are:
- Neighborhood Lender
- World Walking
1. Apache Spark
Apache Spark is a unified analytics engine for large-scale data processing. You can write applications quickly in Java, Scala, Python, R, and SQL using the Apache Spark.
Over 3,000 companies are using Apache Spark, including top players like:
PyTorch is an open-source machine learning framework that accelerates the process from research and prototyping to production deployment.
Primarily developed by Facebook’s AI research group, PyTorch can be used with Python as well as C++. PyTorch is used for Computer Vision and Natural Language Processing (NLP). Some popular websites developed using PyTorch are:
TensorFlow is an end-to-end open-source framework for machine learning (ML). It has a comprehensive, flexible ecosystem of tools, libraries, and community resources that lets researchers dive in ML, and developers quickly build and deploy ML-powered applications.
Three typical applications for TensorFlow are-
- Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN) for image recognition and processing.
- Large-scale linear models for data analysis and simple behavioral predictions.
- Sequence-to-Sequence (Seq2Seq) models for human language-related features.
Check out these best data science tutorials and courses.
Mobile Development Frameworks
Ionic is a free, open-source mobile UI toolkit for developing high-quality, cross-platform native applications for Android, iOS, and the Web—all from a single codebase.
Ionic is a development platform for the entire application lifecycle that allows teams to build better and faster applications. Some of the popular applications developed using Ionic are:
- McDonald's Türkiye
Xamarin is a free, open-source application development platform for building Android, iOS applications with .NET, and C#. Xamarin is part of the .NET platform that has an active community of over 60,000 contributors from more than 3,700 companies.
Some of the popular applications developed using Xamarin are:
- Alaska airlines customer applications
- CA Mobile for mobile banking
- Novarum DX, a medical app
Flutter is Google’s UI toolkit for building beautiful, natively compiled applications for mobile, web, and desktop from a single codebase. It has an expressive and flexible UI and gives a native performance on iOS and Android platforms.
Some of the popular applications developed using Flutter are:
- Alibaba (eCommerce)
- Google Ads(utility)
A Word of Advice Before Starting with Software Frameworks
It is a good idea to learn and develop coding skills by learning the nuances of a programming language before using frameworks for application development. If not, you might miss out on a valuable experience with the underlying technology that exists in a framework.
If you’re not already an expert programmer, then it is essential to understand the code which powers the framework. This knowledge would make it easier when you run into complex challenges and would make you an overall skilled developer.
Many front-end developers contribute to open-source frameworks to support the entire community of developers. For example, developers at Google build AngularJS and Polymer, both of which are freely available to all front-end developers.
Many developers support the front-end community by contributing to open-source libraries as well.
The bottom line suggestion for programmers who want to use software frameworks for application development is to learn a new framework or a programming language based on the need for the applications that are to be developed.
Further, analyze areas such as front-end, back-end, cloud management, and mobile technology, the potential market share of the technology, sustainability, and more, and understand the technology features before deciding to sign up with one.