Top 5 Most Popular Backend Frameworks

Hermione at Pangea.ai
Octavia Drexler
Published: 11.10.2022

Backend frameworks help developers to build server-side applications. These frameworks provide structure for the application, and they can also help with tasks such as security, database interaction, and session management. Of course, there are a lot of backend frameworks to choose from, for each type of need, project, and team — but which ones are the most popular backend frameworks right now?

In this article, we will take a closer look at the backend frameworks most commonly cited and reviewed by developers.

Large, yellow building metal framework

What Is a Backend Framework?

A backend framework is a software framework that provides a standard way to build and deploy web applications on the server side. Backend frameworks usually provide a set of tools and libraries that make it easier for developers to create web applications, including:

  • A web server
  • A database
  • An application programming interface (API)
  • A set of libraries and tools for common tasks, such as session management authentication, and authorization

The main characteristics of a backend framework include:

  • Scalability: the ability to handle a large number of requests
  • Performance: the ability to process requests quickly
  • Security: the ability to protect against common attacks, such as SQL injection
  • Extensibility: the ability to add new features and functionality

Why Are Backend Frameworks Important?

Choosing (and using) a specific backend framework is very important in the development and deployment of web applications — and there are many reasons for this.

To be more specific, backend frameworks will allow you to do the following.

Build Applications Quickly

Because all the common tasks and libraries are available, you don’t have to start from scratch every time.

Ensure a High Level of Security

Backend frameworks usually come with built-in security features that help protect your application against common attacks.

Improve Performance

Backend frameworks are designed to quickly and efficiently handle many requests.

Offer Good Scalability

Scalability is one of the most important features of any backend framework. A good backend framework will allow you to easily add new features and functionality as your application grows.

Now that we’ve answered the question “what is a backend framework?”, it’s time to take a closer look at the most popular backend frameworks in use today.

Page filled with computer code.

Top 5 Most Popular Backend Frameworks by the Number of Users

The number of users can be a good indicator on whether or not a specific backend framework is popular. Of course, that does not necessarily mean a popular backend framework will be right for you too, but it can give you an idea of where to start in your research when you want to pick the right one for your project.

In a study run by Stack Overflow with more than 67,500 respondents, the following backend frameworks came up as the most widely used.

React.js

According to the aforementioned study, React.js is used by 40.4% of users (when professional software developers were asked). There are 3 main reasons why React.js is such a popular choice:

  • It uses JavaScript, which is a very popular programming language
  • It can be used on the frontend and the backend
  • It’s easy to learn, especially if you already know JavaScript

jQuery

According to the same study, jQuery comes in second, with 34.5% of users mentioning it in their response. Of course, this makes sense, as jQuery is a JavaScript library, and thus shares many of the characteristics that make React.js such a popular choice (including being easy to learn for those who already know JavaScript).

Angular

The same research showed that Angular is the third-most appreciated and used backend framework, with 26.23% of respondents mentioning it. Angular comes with a lot of advantages, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • It uses TypeScript, which is a superset of JavaScript
  • It has a large community of users and developers
  • It’s supported by Google

Express

Professional developers cited Express as the fourth-most popular backend framework, with 23.6% citing it in their responses. The reasons behind their choice might be related to the fact that Express is:

  • A lightweight framework, which means it’s easy to use and quick to set up
  • Flexible, as it can be used with a wide variety of tools and libraries
  • Well-documented, making it easier to learn

ASP.NET Core

ASP.NET Core is the fifth-most popular backend framework, with 20.3% of respondents saying they use it in their work. The reasons that make ASP.NET Core such a good choice include:

  • It’s easy to learn, especially if you already know C#
  • It’s well-suited for building large and complex applications
  • It comes with a lot of built-in features, making development quicker and easier

These are the most popular backend frameworks according to the number of users. However, popularity is not everything — you also need to make sure the framework you choose is well-suited for your specific project.

Keep in mind that these results came up when professional software developers were asked. When people within software development (including professionals, but not only) were asked the same question, the data differed a little. More specifically, the top 5 most popular backend frameworks according to all respondents in the aforementioned survey were (in the order of their popularity):

It's interesting to see, then, that Vue.js is among the most popular backend frameworks — according to the general public, but not according to professional developers. Vue.js is a newer framework (it was created in 2014) and thus it hasn't had the time to become as widely adopted as some of the other frameworks on this list.

Top 5 Most Popular Backend Frameworks by GitHub Rating

If you want to make sure the framework you choose is popular not only in terms of the number of users, but also in terms of quality, you can take a look at GitHub ratings. As of January 2022 and according to Statistics & Data, the following backend frameworks had the most reviews on GitHub.

Laravel

Laravel had 67,902 ratings on GitHub, thus ranking as the top-most popular backend framework (according to the number of ratings.) The advantages of using Laravel include:

  • It has an expressive syntax, which makes code clean and easy to read
  • It comes with a lot of built-in features, which saves time and effort during development
  • It has good community support

Django

Django had 61,614 ratings on GitHub, which made it the second-most popular backend framework. Django is such a good choice for a number of reasons:

  • It’s easy to learn, especially if you already know Python
  • It’s well-suited for building large and complex applications
  • It also has good community support

Flask

With 57,681 ratings on GitHub, Flask ranked as the third-most popular backend framework:

  • It’s lightweight and easy to use
  • It’s flexible, as it can be used with a wide variety of tools and libraries
  • Good community support

ExpressJS

ExpressJS had 55,520 ratings on GitHub, making it the fourth-most popular backend framework. Express is a solid choice for these reasons:

  • It comes with good documentation
  • It's considered to be flexible and easy to learn
  • Like the other GitHub-popular frameworks, it too has very good community support

Ruby on Rails

Ruby on Rails ranked as the fifth-most popular backend framework in 2022, with 49,840 users rating it on GitHub. Some of the most advantageous parts of using this framework include:

  • It has an intuitive syntax, making it easy to read and write
  • It comes with a lot of built-in features, which can save time and effort during development
  • Like the other frameworks on this list, Ruby on Rails has good community support.

Conclusion

Neither popularity nor the number of reviews should be your primary criterion in choosing the right backend framework for your project. However, both of these indicators can give you a better idea of which frameworks are currently being used the most, and which ones receive good ratings from their users.

When choosing the right backend framework for your project, you should first consider what kind of project you want to build, and then look for a framework that’s well-suited for that specific type of project. Once you narrow down your options, you can then look at other factors, such as popularity and GitHub ratings, to help you make your final decision.

FAQs:

Q1. Which backend framework is most used?

According to the number of users, React.js is the most popular backend framework, followed by jQuery, Angular, Express, and ASP.NET Core. According to GitHub ratings, Laravel, Django, Flask, ExpressJS, and Ruby on Rails rank as the top 5 most popular backend frameworks by the number of ratings.

Q2. What is the most used backend technology?

React.js and Laravel rank as the top most commonly used, respectively most commonly rated backend technologies. Both of them have their advantages. React.js, for example, is easy to learn if you know JavaScript, and can be used for both backend and front-end coding. Laravel, on the other hand, uses an expressive syntax (which keeps the code clean), comes with a lot of features, and has very good community support.

Q3. Which backend is fast?

Some of the fastest backend frameworks include Angular, Laravel, Express, and Django. The reason these frameworks tend to be faster is because they have good community support and they enable programmers to write clean code. And, because the architecture they follow helps programmers eliminate repetitive work — thus, shortening the time needed to get an application done.

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