A framework is a structure that you can build software on. It serves as a foundation, so you're not starting entirely from scratch. Frameworks are typically associated with a specific programming language and are suited to different types of tasks.
Let's say you're building a house. You could pour the foundation and frame the house yourself. It would take a lot of time, but you could do it. If all of that were already done for you, though, it would save you quite a bit of effort — especially if it was done by expert home builders.
In software development, a framework serves a similar purpose. It's designed and tested by other Software Developers and Engineers, so you know it's a solid foundation.
A house isn't complete with just the framework, though. Similarly, a framework in software development is a starting point, but you add higher-level functionality to it to make it work.
Below, we'll take a closer look at frameworks, what they're used for, the differences between libraries and frameworks, and more.
Why do we use frameworks?
Using frameworks saves time and reduces the risk of errors. You don't need to write everything from the ground up, so there's less chance of introducing errors. Plus, frameworks have already been tested, so there's less to worry about. Other advantages include:
- More secure code
- Simpler testing and debugging
- Avoiding duplicate code
- Clean and easily adaptable code
- Able to focus on writing code specific to the project
- Can be extended
Types of frameworks
Frameworks can be used for developing websites, mobile applications, data science, and more. Here are some of the more popular frameworks:
Web application frameworks
AngularJS was developed and is supported by Google. It includes features like two-way data binding, which reduces development time, and dependency injections, making it easier for different pieces of code to interact with each other.
Django is an open-source web development framework supported by the Django Software Foundation. It's written in Python, a popular programming language, and is designed to encourage "rapid development and clean, pragmatic design." It's fast, secure, and scalable.
Rails is also an open-source framework. It's written in the Ruby programming language, which was designed for ease of use. Rails is designed to involve less code and less repetition and is supported by a large community. It's been used to develop sites like Airbnb, Twitch, and Hulu.
Mobile development frameworks
Flutter is Google's open-source framework. It supports iOS and Android and has fully customizable widgets.
Xamarin is a popular .NET-based framework by Microsoft. It also supports iOS and Android and has a community of 60,000 contributors.
Libraries vs. frameworks
The terms "libraries" and "frameworks" are sometimes used interchangeably, but they're very different.
In the video above, Carlos, a Web Developer, explains that a library is a set of previously-written code that you can use to build your own code. A framework is a supporting structure that requires specificity. You must follow the pattern of the framework.
A framework is essentially a skeleton, and you work with the skeleton. A framework calls on your code. Your code calls on a library. In other words, your code is in control when you use a library, but when you use a framework, it's in control. This is referred to as "inversion of control."
Frameworks can, and often do, include libraries. Libraries are used to fill out functions.
Getting started with frameworks
Frameworks are a valuable tool for developing applications. But, before you get started with frameworks, it's best to have a solid understanding of a programming language.
Ultimately, the better you understand a programming language, the easier it'll be to understand frameworks. Programming languages are a solid foundation for many career paths in IT.
Once you understand frameworks, you can even give back by contributing to open source frameworks and participating in developer communities.Ready to get started? We're here to help, whether you're brushing up on skills, changing careers, or just starting out — so sign up today!