Web applications are steadily gaining in popularity — their high flexibility, wide choice of programming languages, and independence from client operating systems easily explain this success. The idea of client-server applications is already quite mature, as web development standards are constantly growing along with the sophistication of modern technology. In this article, we’ll take a look at the different kinds of progressive web app frameworks which
you are free to use.
Are Web Frameworks a Real Necessity?
A web framework is a framework for writing web applications. It defines the structure, sets the rules, and provides the necessary kit of tools for development. The idea of abandoning types of frameworks is becoming increasingly popular. In particular, it’s about the fact that web app frameworks have evolved to the point where the developer doesn’t need additional APIs to make building applications easier.
Advantages of Using a Framework
From a business perspective, framework development is cost-effective and has a higher quality than coding a project in a pure programming language without using any platforms. Development without a framework can be the right solution only in two cases – either a project is elementary and does not require further development, or it is very complex. This requires very low-level optimization (e.g., web services with thousands of requests per second). In all other cases, development on a software platform is faster and has a higher quality.
If we compare web frameworks to other platforms such as SaaS, CMS, or CMF, frameworks are much more effective in projects with complex business logic with high demands on speed, reliability and security. Also, in simple and typical projects without significant requirements, the speed and cost of framework development is usually higher than in SaaS or CMS.
Disadvantages and Limitations
Despite many advantages, frameworks also have their weak points. For example, the framework set is a specific structure for future software and if a developer needs to implement some non-standard ideas, they will have to abandon frameworks.
Remember that the programmer should have profound knowledge on how the web framework works and be able to apply it in their work. But do not forget it is impossible to implement all the functionality using frameworks, you will still have to add some extra features manually.
Frontend Developers’ Choice: Programming Frameworks List
Today, frameworks have become an integral part of the web development process because of the increasing standards of web applications and the complexity of the technologies used. Let’s take a look at the 5 most popular web development frameworks, their advantages, disadvantages and use cases.
Advantages of AngularJS:
- Simplified two-way data binding. AngularJS allows you to bind data to HTML using expressions, and extend HTML functionality to create new designs.
- Designed as a universal framework, so you can use it to build a web application of any type. If you’re making a single-page web app, there’s no better way.
- Very “stubborn” and imposes its structure on developers. For beginners and even pro developers, this is good news. AngularJS is designed to be as user-friendly as possible, so its tools are intuitive.
Disadvantages of AngularJS:
- For some projects, AngularJS is too redundant. The framework is also not adapted to handle DOM manipulations with lots of data, since it relies on “dirty checks”. For most sites, this will not be a problem, but GUI editors and video games can be laggy.
Companies that use AngularJS: Weather.com, The Guardian, PayPal, VEVO, Upwork, Freelancer.
Benefits of ReactJS:
- Easy to learn. React is much easier to learn due to the simplicity of its syntax. Engineers just need to review their HTML writing skills and that’s it.
- High level of flexibility and maximum responsiveness.
- Virtual DOM (document object model) allows you to organize HTML, XHTML, or XML documents into a tree that is best suited for web browsers to parse different elements of a web application.
Disadvantages of ReactJS:
- Lack of official documentation. ReactJS’s ultra-fast development leaves no room for proper documentation, which is now a bit chaotic as many developers make individual changes to it without any systematic approach.
- React has no clear goal. This means that developers, sometimes, have too many choices.
- Long time to master. This framework requires an in-depth understanding of how to integrate the UI into the MVC framework.
Companies that use ReactJS: Instagram, Airbnb, Discord, Walmart, Wix, Pinterest.
Benefits of Vue.js:
- HTML-enhanced. This means that Vue.js has many similar characteristics to Angular. This helps optimize HTML block processing using different components.
Disadvantages of Vue.js:
- Lack of resources. This framework still has a fairly small market share compared to React or Angular. This means that knowledge sharing within the web framework is still taking shape.
- The risk of excessive flexibility. Vue.js can sometimes cause problems integrating into giant projects, and experience in possible solutions is still lacking. Nevertheless, solving is sure to appear in the near future.
Companies that use Vue.js: Xiaomi, Alibaba, WizzAir, EuroNews, Grammarly, Gitlab and Laracasts, Adobe, Behance, Codeship, Reuters.
Benefits of Svelte:
- The component approach. Building code based on objects is a key part of the OOP development paradigm. Many other web app frameworks use the same structuring scheme, including Vue and React, but Svelte makes this idea absolute. By default, and without the need to modify the application in any way, Svelte provokes the developer to write code that is finely chopped into logical chunks.
Disadvantages of Svelte:
- Routing and routers. Without a proper router, you can’t even make a one-page app.
- Errors. This framework won’t let you build a bundle and will alert you about an error. And if you forget to NPM install or export something, it will build everything perfectly and just show a white screen.
Companies that use Svelte: Apple, Snap! Raise, Condé Nast, Intellibus.
Benefits of Ember:
- Templates for creating a stunning user interface. They are written in the Handlebars language, which greatly reduces the amount of code required.
- This web framework is Ember-CLI. It is a command line add-on that provides support for technologies such as Sass / Less, CoffeeScript, Handlebars, and others.
- Ember is also based on a configuration agreement (CoC). This helps developers focus more on functionality, resulting in faster creation of applications and less worry about scheduling.
Disadvantages of Ember:
- The API has evolved rapidly, so it contains outdated content and examples that no longer work. Take a look at the Ember Data Changelog, and you’ll see what we mean — many of the answers to questions on StackOverflow are no longer relevant.
- Handlebars pollute the DOM with plenty of tags, which not only complicates HTML but can break CSS or integration with other web frameworks like jQuery UI Sortable.
Companies that use Ember: Twitch, LinkedIn, Accenture, Square, DigitalOcean, Runtastic.
Backend Development: The Most Comprehensive List of Frameworks
The main skill of a pro developer must have been an understanding of how a backend web framework works. Because of the large variety of available platforms, many developers are lost and do not know which framework to use in their work. Let’s take a look at them together, focusing on their advantages and disadvantages.
Laravel is a free, open-source PHP web framework created by Taylor Otwell for developing web applications based on the MVC architectural pattern. Laravel can be said to have been influenced by other PHP frameworks.
Benefits of Laravel:
- A powerful ecosystem around the framework. Various courses, conferences and tutorials allow you to gather around the web application framework numerous developers and sponsors who are interested in the tool and contribute in its improvement.
- Flexible routing system, which allows you to make a wide variety of web application route checks. You can assign routes into special groups, use namespaces, specify their parameters, use regular expressions, set up subdomain routing, and more.
Disadvantages of Laravel:
- Backward compatibility between the web framework versions is broken.
- Illogical arrangement of directories and files. For example, by default, the User.php model is located in the /app directory, which would be more logically placed in the /app/Models directory and so on.
Companies that use Laravel: Pfizer, BBC, PedidosYa, About you, Ratio, TourRadar, Crowdcube.
Spring MVC – a Java web framework for creating loosely coupled web applications, sharing the main aspects of their development: objects, business logic and the program’s appearance.
Benefits of Spring MVC:
- Lightweight: Since Spring is a lightweight web framework, a Spring-based web application won’t have performance issues.
- High productivity: This framework can accelerate any development process.
- Security: most web applications for online banking are developed using Spring MVC, which benefits from the built-in Spring Security.
Disadvantages of Spring MVC:
- Lack of control. This framework creates many unused dependencies, resulting in a large deployment file size.
- The difficult and time-consuming process of converting a legacy or project into Spring MVC applications.
Companies that use Spring MVC: Deleokorea, Backend, Craftbase, Practo, Migros Turkiye Online, Redfin, CTT.
Flask is an API framework for creating web applications in the Python programming language, using the Werkzeug toolkit and the Jinja2 emulating engine.
Benefits of Flask:
- Flexible and lightweight. There are only a handful of flask parts that cannot be changed or altered because of their simplicity and minimalism.
- Testing. Using Flask for web development allows you to test the Flask through its integrated support and built-in development server.
Disadvantages of Flask:
- Scale. This framework has a single source, which means it will handle every request in turns, one at a time.
- Modules. The use of add-on modules is considered third-party involvement, which can be a serious security breach.
Companies that use Flask: Rackspace, Airbnb, Airflow, Netflix, PythonAnywhere, Lyft, Reddit.
Ruby on Rails
Ruby on Rails is a web framework written in the Ruby programming language that implements the Model-View-Controller architectural template for web applications.
Benefits of Ruby on Rails:
- High development speed – projects on Rails are really faster than PHP, Python, or Java counterparts.
- High reliability and maintainability of solutions – Rails development usually applies the TDD approach.
Disadvantages of Ruby on Rails:
- Resource-intensive. This is especially true for the Ruby on Rails web framework, which requires much more memory, space and other processing power.
- Linux’s orientation. Although, this framework is a cross-platform language, so it can be learned on any OS.
Companies that use Ruby on Rails: SlideShare, Airbnb, Bloomberg, CrunchBase, Dribble.
Express, a web application framework for Node.js, is implemented as free and open-source software under the MIT license.
Benefits of Express:
- Excellent performance. This framework was designed to optimize bandwidth and scalability of web applications. It can handle many common web development problems (e.g., real-time web applications) excellently.
Disadvantages of Express:
- Low performance when dealing with heavy computing tasks.
- Dependence on callbacks. Because of its asynchronous nature, Express relies heavily on callbacks – functions that run after each task in the queue has been completed.
Companies that use Express: Fox Sports, PayPal, Uber, IBM.
Firebase is an American cloud service provider founded in 2011 by Andrew Lee and James Tamplin and taken over by Google Corporation in 2014.
Benefits of Firebase:
- Database Options. Firestore and Realtime are the database options you can choose to create your product.
- Free for beginners. The platform does not charge for most of its services and requires you to select a plan only after reaching a certain amount of database storage.
Disadvantages of Firebase:
- Data storage. Usually, you will use a real-time database as the main storage, which is not always a comfortable thing.
- Limited data migration. All the data is hosted on Firebase, and this is a serious problem with using technical platforms.
Companies that use Firebase: Alibaba, The New York Times, The Economist, Todoist, Fabulous, Onefootball.
CakePHP is a software framework for creating web applications written in PHP and built on open-source principles.
Benefits of CakePHP:
- Relational Object Mapping. This framework supports object-relational mapping, which improves the way developers create web applications.
- Auto-definition. The joy of creating CakePHP is the minimal effort a programmer puts into configuring the system.
- Extensibility. One of the great advantages of modern programming languages is their extensibility through modules.
Disadvantages of CakePHP :
- Documentation. The manual does not always seem to have been written with newcomers in mind. Important information is sometimes described in just one or two sentences, when it should be several paragraphs long.
Companies that use CakePHP: SOFITEC AERO, S.L., EMPOWER TEXANS, OPEX Corporation.
Django has been described as the easiest backend framework for perfectionists with deadlines. It was created to move from prototypes to finished services as quickly as possible.
Benefits of Django:
- Standardized structure.This python web application framework defines the architecture of the project. It helps developers understand where and how to add new functionality.
- Secure by default. Django is secure out of the box and includes mechanisms to prevent common attacks like SQL injection (XSS).
Disadvantages of Django:
- Slow development. This is a large and monolithic web framework that allows the community to develop hundreds of generic modules and applications, but reduces the speed of Django development itself.
- Django ORM. It is based on the Active Record template, which is worse than the Unit of Work template used in SQLAlchemy.
Companies that use Django: Instagram, National Geographic, Mozilla, Spotify, Pinterest.
What About Cross-Platform Development?
Cross-platform application development refers to the creation of software that can run on multiple devices. Compatibility with multiple platforms is a very desirable trait that encourages various developers to create and improve cross-platform frameworks.
Benefits of ReactNative:
- High performance. The code runs on its own API.
Disadvantages of ReactNative:
- Longer development time. You have to create a custom version of each screen for various platforms.
- Additional payments. With ReactNative, additional investments may be required to get a compelling product.
Companies that use ReactNative: Bloomberg, Facebook, Uber Eats, Discord, Instagram, Skype.
NativeScript is an open-source web framework developed by Telerik for building applications on the Android and iOS platforms.
Benefits of NativeScript:
- Free open source. This means that you can contribute to the code and use it as you see fit, as long as you don’t break the Apache 2.0 license.
- Easy to work with. It allows you to create truly native apps for Android and iOS devices.
Disadvantages of NativeScript:
- No HTML and DOM in NativeScript. You need to learn how to use the different user interface components.
- Not all UI components are available for free. You need to purchase Telerik UI if you want to use components such as diagrams and calendars.
Companies that use NativeScript: MongoDB Inc, Blackfriars Group.
Flutter is a development kit and open-source web framework for creating mobile apps for Android and iOS.
Benefits of Flutter:
- Speed. You implement an application simultaneously for two platforms, reusing some code and shortening the time-to-market (TTM).
- Identical UI on Android and iOS platforms. Google’s Skia engine helps you draw the right element for each version, and as a result, you get uniformity across applications.
Disadvantages of Flutter:
- A high level of complexity. If your app has complex calculations, numerous items and access to hardware features (camera, files) – the progressive web app framework should be chosen together with the team who will develop the app.
- The specifics of working with graphics. In some hybrid applications, the interface and graphics may be slow, but this is not a typical problem for Flutter itself.
Companies that use Flutter: Google Ads, Alibaba, Hamilton Musical.
Ionic is a complete open-source SDK for developing hybrid mobile apps created by Max Lynch, Ben Sperry and Adam Bradley from Drifty Co. in 2013.
Benefits of Ionic:
- Fast development and minimal time to market.
- You can do most of the development in the browser (except for native smartphone functionality – here you will need to use a smartphone for debugging).
- You can develop iOS and Android apps simultaneously (with some limitations – such as platform specifics regarding styles and plugins).
Disadvantages of Ionic:
- Native plugins can be a problem if any of the plugins use conflicts or if one of them has a bug.
- There was a bug in the Facebook login plugin: if the user logged out even once, then login wouldn’t work anymore. And the FCM (Firebase Cloud Messaging) plugin does not work with firebase-analytics.
Companies that use Ionic: H&R Block, National Health Service, Airbus Helicopters.
Benefits of Meteor:
- Creating templates for your application is effortless and enjoyable. The preparation time for your layout depends entirely on the complexity of the object itself.
- Instant feedback. When users enter some data into your app, they get feedback instantly, without having to wait for the server to respond.
Disadvantages of Meteor:
- Debugging. Part of the logic for refreshing a page when new data arrives is implemented with exceptions.
- Uncertainty. You are constantly in a state of not knowing which data you have now, and which have not yet arrived.
Companies that use Meteor: Wishlist, Lubert, Personal, Tools I Know.
Xamarin is an American software development company that supports Mono and C# application development tools for iOS, Android, Windows and Mac.
Benefits of Xamarin:
- A single technology stack for development on all platforms. This framework uses the C# language and NET web framework to create applications for any mobile platform.
- Performance is close to native. Unlike traditional hybrid web-based solutions, a cross-platform application created with Xamarin can be classified as native.
Disadvantages of Xamarin:
- Delays with platform updates. This is entirely up to the development team.
- Limited access to open-source libraries. Native development makes extensive use of open-source technologies. With Xamarin, you have to use the components provided by the platform and some .NET resources used by both developers and consumers.
Companies that use Xamarin: Olo, Rumble, Zappiti, Crowdkeep, Rovertown.
We took apart 19 trending web frameworks to find out how they differ from each other and what they are good for. Pay attention that a web app framework not only gives the developer the needed functionality, but also dictates the rules of the application architecture, setting the default behavior at the initial stage of development. The application frameworks can also include helper programs, code libraries, a scripting language, and other software that facilitates the development and integration of various components. Contact us to select the best framework for your project.