10 Best Web Development Frameworks to Use in 2021
Frameworks make up a crucial part of a web developer’s toolbox. Knowledge and experience in just a handful of technologies allow engineers and teams to unlock web services at a scale otherwise impossible to reach. It’s one of several reasons that development frameworks have become such indispensable assets.
A powerful web development framework has the ability to unlock speed, reliability, and features in the projects they underpin. By providing vital boilerplate code, decreasing the maintenance required, eliminating many possible programming errors, and providing a robust architecture to build from—web development frameworks provide a vital service to the speed and reliability web engineers can develop with.
Choosing the right framework for the appropriate task, developer, and application is vital to project success. Many competing frameworks provide viable platforms for a wide variety of projects. Choosing between them is no easy task, as we’ve hinted at in our article on the Pros and Cons of Web Development Frameworks.
Here, we’ve listed 10 of the most competitive and feature-rich web frameworks in use today and outlined when, where, and why to consider using them for your next development project. Looking for experts in web development frameworks? Just tell us what you need, and within 72h we’ll connect you with up to 5 companies—all for free!
Strictly speaking, React isn’t a framework at all. In technical terms, React is a front-end library called by developers to assist in creating functionality for their projects. Almost universally, however, developers lean on React as a framework, discussing and comparing it amongst other web frameworks in a web development context. Used practically, it’s as much a framework as any other on the list.
As a framework, React is an industry-leading front-end technology. Featuring an extensive user community and backing from social media giant Facebook, over years it’s a tool that has gone from strength to strength since its first introduction.
Featuring a component-based design, React aims to maximise the opportunity for component reuse, simplicity, and strong design principles. As a platform-agnostic front-end solution, it’s a framework that developers can pair with any number of back-end technologies in practice.
Use React When
- Looking for a dependable technology at scale
- Multiple platforms are likely to benefit from using the same framework across the board
- The application being produced contains high levels of interactivity and features
- SEO is a mission-critical component of the final product
Labeling itself as a fast, minimal, and unopinionated back-end framework—Express offers a lot to developers without imposing much on the project in exchange. The lightweight framework is frequently employed to create REST-based back-end technologies or to render server-side web applications.
Express benefits from being a highly mature and stable framework, benefiting from over a decade of active and productive development.
While the primary use case for Express is in back-end development, it’s a framework more than capable of also supporting end-to-end application development. Included in the package is extensive support for MVC (Model-view-control) patterns that provide developers with many opportunities.
Express is almost the opposite of a “batteries included” framework, remaining entirely agnostic about both how it’s deployed and extra features you may want to incorporate.
Use Express.JS When
- Fast Server-side rendering is a business-critical component
- Scalability and processing performance are not critical
- Small scale and self-contained web applications are a priority
Combining React’s Virtual DOM advantages with Angular’s two-way data binding into a highly popular, community-driven web framework offers a lot to modern web developers. To add to Vue’s advantages are a convention over configuration approach akin to Ruby on Rails and a shallow learning curve somewhat unique to the framework itself.
Use Vue When
- Outright performance is critical to the final application
- Low barrier of entry to application development will be a useful asset
- Rapid development progress is a strong priority
- Space considerations make a significant impact
Spring is an enterprise-grade server-side framework built around Java. Designed around an MVC architecture, Spring supports Asynchronous, Reactive programming styles and opens up many opportunities for developers to extend their applications within the Spring ecosystem.
The leading Java-based web development framework by a significant margin, the Spring ecosystem offers developers Cloud Native development, Batch processing, Event-driven application development, and many additional options for expansion.
With the robust dependability and rich feature-set of the framework, and the additional weight that both entail, Spring is ideally suited for large-scale application development. Embodying the “batteries included” philosophy of web frameworks, Spring includes sophisticated security services, numerous data sources, multiple cloud deployment options, and many additional options and services.
Use Spring When
- Creating a large scale enterprise application
- When leaning on the Java language and Java Virtual Machine can bring benefits to the project
- Creating highly CPU intensive web applications
- In projects where maturity, stability, and reliability are preferred over-development speed
In the modernised version of the framework, Angular has put a greater focus on component-based architecture to promote re-usability. Some of the most advantageous design features that made AngularJS so popular and productive, however, have been carried through and deployed in Angular. Two-way data binding, for example, is as key in Angular as it was in its predecessor.
The framework additionally offers a rich collection of third-party integrations to provide Reactive functionality amongst other features and additions to undertake major development projects. Want to make sure you have the best Angular developers around? Tell us what you need. We can do the work for you and connect you with up to 5 companies within 72h that match your needs—all for free!
Use Angular When
- The application engineering is necessarily complex
- One framework may be used to create for multiple platforms
- SEO is not a business-critical part of the application
Levering the advantages and abilities of React to create static sites, Gatsby is designed to provide the core functionality of the heavyweight framework in a more lightweight and easily accessible package.
While the advantages of React lend the framework to creating highly interactive, capable, and attractive web apps—React’s disadvantages lead to applications that are less performant and responsive than those built with comparable frameworks. The philosophy of Gatsby is rooted in addressing these issues in a more lightweight, though still highly capable static site generator.
Bundled with an ecosystem of plugins and APIs for integrating web development tools and a variety of data sources, Gatsby makes developing static sites a fast and relatively painless process.
Use Gatsby When
- Implementing small-scale sites with maximum reach and accessibility
- SEO is a high priority on the project
- Support for multiple data sources can provide a helpful boost
- Extensibility via various plugins can help your application in the future
Even amongst lightweight frameworks such as Gatsby and Express, Flask is the first on our list that could truly be labelled as a micro web framework.
Released in 2010, Flask is an unopinionated, self-contained, and minimalistic Python-based framework for web development. Unopinionated on everything from architecture, design, and tooling—Flask does not offer out of the box support for anything more than the bare minimum of essential features.
On the other hand, the framework is also highly modular, supporting pluggable extensions that allow the micro framework to greatly extend both its reach and its limited feature set.
Unlike most technologies listed here, Flask is by no means an end-to-end framework. Flask is strictly server-side only, providing core server-side functionality in an entirely unopinionated way.
Use Flask When
- Integrating your web app with other Python-based data sources and projects
- Looking for the simplest possible option for server-side web development
- Your project is highly customised and a “batteries included” framework would simply get in the way
Another Python-based web development framework, Django comes in stark contrast to Flask. While flask is intended to be lightweight and minimalist to the extreme, Django is very much a “batteries included” kind of framework. Bundled with features such as authentication and messaging out of the box, Django comes with everything you need to build and deploy a highly functional web app.
The features of Django are packaged in a convention-over-configuration approach similar to both Vue and Rails, a choice that developers often appreciate in any technology. The framework boasts this amongst a wide range of benefits such as inherent scalability, rich built-in features, and vast community support available to its developers.
Django has previously ranked highly amongst Pangea’s top Python Frameworks for application development.
Use Django When
- A rapid pace of development can deliver a boost to the project
- A rich feature set out-of-the-box will prove a valuable asset
- Python itself is likely to prove an asset to application development
Laravel is a relatively young PHP-based framework aimed at delivering maximum value at minimum cost for the developers who use it. Similar to Django, Laravel comes with a large number of packages, helpers, and libraries straight out of the box. Designed as an end-to-end framework, Laravel offers everything from ORM to Middleware, Caching, Security and Session Management from the first installation.
As a modern web application framework, component-based design is at the heart of Laravel. With everything included right out of the box and the framework’s elegant and expressive syntax, Laravel is well-suited to rapid application development.
Somewhat unique to this framework, the support and assistance available to newcomers is both exceptional and almost unparalleled amongst web-development frameworks. A comprehensive and highly accessible suite of documentation on the framework is available to developers looking to make a start on learning the ins and outs of the framework.
Use Laravel When
- Business logic is necessarily complex and the website reasonable small
- Large and highly scalable applications are an advantage
- Looking for a “batteries included” framework based in PHP
Ruby On Rails
Ruby on Rails has been a frontrunner in web development projects since the popularisation of the web in the early 2000s. Since then, rails has been a consistently popular and continually innovating framework worthy of consideration for almost two decades.
Despite the framework’s maturity, Rails includes features and functionality now highly popular amongst more recently designed frameworks. These features include a focus on convention over configuration, DRY software pattern, MVC architecture and Asynchronous, Reactive programming.
Rails practically pioneered and very much embodies the “batteries included” approach to framework development. Included with rails is everything from ORM, Database Migration, middleware, caching, and security. With so many strong advantages, it’s understandable why it’s a technology used so extensively throughout the industry and amongst some of the world’s largest web applications.
Use Ruby on Rails When
- Development speed matters
- A “batteries included” framework will provide strong benefits to the project
- The “default” option is the right one
Web Frameworks to Use in 2021
As a critical component of your firm, the right web development solutions and the technologies that go into creating them deserve due care and attention.
Our list is far from comprehensive. There are many web development technologies out there that haven’t been touched on here and will almost certainly fit best for some bespoke and critical web applications. Here we’ve provided a summary of the top web development frameworks you should be carefully considering before moving forward with your next development projects. Be sure to check back next time for our article Hiring Web Developers - Best Practices & Job Description Template!
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