Web Application Frameworks: the basis
January 14, 2020

Software Development

A Short Guide to Web Application Frameworks

By Olga Matuts

A web application framework is a useful tool that can considerably facilitate web application development. With its help, developers can much faster create a web application with any level of complexity.

As for the web application framework, it is often confused with content management systems. A content management system is about creating, managing, and launching the content on the website.

Web application framework vs CMS

There is the age-old question of what is the difference between a web application framework and a CMS.

Both frameworks and CMSs can be the basis of web applications and can use the same technologies. For example, look at the web application framework Symfony and the CMS Joomla, both of which use PHP.

It is all about the approach. It can be compared with computer navigation with the help of a command line or explorer. In this case, a command line is associated with a web application framework and the explorer — with a CMS. 

Frameworks include a scope of tools and libraries needed for creating a web application. As a rule, this is the choice of experienced developers who build software from a concept to a working app.

A person who creates a web application with a CMS should also be able to edit code and work with the server. The statement that a person working with CMS doesn’t need to know a programming language will be right only if he or she has to deal with the finished website.

The Model View Controller architecture

The Model View Controller architecture is the most popular and rational template of web application frameworks. The three parts of its interface are hidden in its name, Model, View, and Controller.

Model

The Model is about the content and the structure of the web application. It takes input data from the Controller and gives information about how the updated interface should look like in the View.

View

The View is the web application interface. The View receives the user’s data input and gives it to the Controller for analysis and updating or reassembling as required by the Model (if it is a small modification, the View is guided by the Controller).  

The View knows the layout and the manner how a customer can use any of these parts.

Controller

The Controller is the link to the Model and the View. It receives the customer’s input from the View, processes it,  and reports to the Model (or the View) what should be done.

Someone can say that the Controller is not so important as the interface, but this position breaks the original logic of the split view pattern. According to this logic, tasks should be allocated under their type. If every component of the architecture has its target, the entire project gets much clearer and easier to understand. 

The MVC logic makes it possible to realize 4 important processes:

  • parallel development;
  • reusing code;
  • changing one of the components regardless of the others;
  • setting SEO-friendly URLs. 

A lot of web frameworks suggest the Model-View-Controller template (MVC).

Kinds of web application frameworks

Previously web applications were primarily created around servers (in Web 1.0 period). The app’s logic stays on the backend, which makes web applications safer.

As time went on, web standards began to change and web applications received client-side logic. This logic lets web applications quickly react to user input and navigate on every device with ease and convenience.

Developers can use server-side and client-side logics to create a good-working web application.

Server-side web application framework

There are five most popular server-side (back end) web application frameworks, which are based on the MVC model:

  • Symfony (PHP)
  • Django (Python)
  • Express (Node.js/JavaScript)
  • Ruby on Rails (Ruby)
  • ASP.NET (C#)

A personal server-side framework is intended for each of the programming languages.

With the help of one of these frameworks, the web application can process HTTP requests, manage databases, and map URLs.

Client-side web application framework

The client-side (front end) web application framework presents the interface. Reaching this task, developers can use one of the client-side web application frameworks, for example:

  • Bootstrap
  • React.js
  • Angular.js
  • Backbone
  • Semantic-UI

Client-side frameworks have a different set of functions. That’s why it is important to take into account the functional requirements of the forthcoming web application before choosing the tech stack and coding.

Developers use web application frameworks to create fast and good-working web applications. It is necessary to clearly identify the main goal of the development project to choose both back end and front end frameworks accurately.

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