The concept of Digital Transformation today touches every organization irrespective of their industry vertical or functional expertise. The digital presence of a company is driven by digital transformation as it helps meet the evolving customer expectations. Digital presence means how a company appears online, be it through a website or a mobile application.
A decade ago, a company’s digital presence was confined to a static website or a PHP Web Application built on the much popular LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) stack. But not anymore! With the advent of frameworks and APIs, the standards of web development have risen over the years. Frameworks have now become an essential part of web development for building rich and interactive web applications. A variety of frameworks are available for both frontend (client-side) and backend (server-side) web development.
Backend frameworks are libraries of server-side programming languages that help build the backend structure of a website. Backend frameworks provide ready-made components for developing a dynamic web application. Using frameworks gives a head-start to the developers by eliminating the need to build and configure everything from the ground up.
Note: The above article was published in 2022. If you wish to read the updated version please click here: Best Backend Framework 2023
What Comprises a Quintessential Backend Web Development Framework?
Although there are several benchmarks for rating a framework such as the coding tools, the languages it supports, and the interfaces it offers, the basis for ranking a framework, above all, should be versatility. A truly versatile framework is based on powerful and expressive languages and enables developers to build web applications or APIs, including single-page applications (SPAs).
Since backend frameworks are written in various languages such as Python, PHP, Ruby, and Java among others, and have different features, the choice of the appropriate backend web development framework largely hinges on the features required in the application. Here are the top 8 Backend Web Development Frameworks that will remain popular among the developers’ community in 2022.
- ASP.NET Core
First released in 2016, ASP.NET Core is an open-source version of ASP.NET. It is a redesign of the earlier Windows-only versions of ASP.NET. A popular web development framework for creating web apps on the .NET platform, ASP.NET Core is much faster than most currently available frameworks. The key features of ASP.NET Core are:
• ASP.NET apps can run on Windows, Linux, macOS, and Docker
• Designed to allow runtime components, APIs, languages, and compilers to evolve quickly
• Multiple versions of ASP.NET Core can exist on the same server
• Provides various support lifecycle options to meet app-specific needs.
- Laravel and Laravel Lumen
Initially launched in 2011 under MIT license, Laravel is an open-source PHP framework based on the MVC architecture. Laravel is a perfect backend tool for building blog, news, and e-commerce websites. With an intuitive interface, out-of-the-box API support, and extensive libraries, Laravel simplifies the development of secure and modern web applications. A relatively young and beginner-friendly framework, Laravel comes with the following features:
• Own command-line interface (CLI)
• Blade template engine that provides lightweight frontend templates
• Supports straightforward PHP code
• Excellent community support and documentation
• Database migration system
Laravel Lumen, on the other hand, is a lightweight micro-framework built on the foundation of Laravel. It is a simpler and leaner version of the complete web framework that speeds up web development. Released in 2015, Laravel Lumen allows developers to build microservices and high-performance APIs. The following features make Lumen a highly preferred framework by the developers’ community:
• Expressive and elegant syntax
• Simplifies common tasks such as routing, database abstraction, queueing, and caching
• Built-in debugger allows quick identification and elimination of bugs
• Compatibility with Google App Engine
Express.js is a trending framework that global brands like IBM and Accenture trust due to its advanced features. Express.js supports REST API applications and is highly flexible. Released in 2010, Express or Express.js is a minimal Node.js web application framework that provides fundamental web development features that include:
• Minimalistic and fast web framework
• Easy to setup and straightforward to learn
• Great routing API
• Availability of a large number of plugins for use
• Offers numerous HTTP utility methods to build dynamic and perceptive APIs
- Spring Boot
Spring Boot is a lightweight and open-source Java-based framework used to create stand-alone and production-grade Spring-based applications. Initially released in 2002, Spring Boot leverages the Spring platform and third-party libraries to enable the developers to get started with minimum hassle. A few advantages offered by the Spring Boot framework are:
• Helps avoid complex XML configuration in Spring
• Microservices-ready framework
• Provides powerful batch processing
• Helps manage REST endpoints
• Eases dependency management
Released in 2005, Django is one of the most popular open-source frameworks written in Python language. Often referred to as the web framework for perfectionists with deadlines, Django is based on the DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) principle, emphasizing reusing the existing code and focusing on new parts making the developer’s work incredibly fast. Widely used for developing FinTech apps, booking engines, and e-commerce applications due to greater security, the key features of Django include:
• Highly scalable and customizable
• Encourages rapid development
• Large community support and extensive documentation
• Comes with the batteries-included feature
• High-level Model-View-Template (MVT) framework
- Ruby on Rails (RoR)
Ruby on Rails is a server-side web application framework written in Ruby language available under MIT licence. Supported by a large and friendly community, RoR is an ideal framework that includes everything a developer requires to build fantastic applications. Since its release in 2004, hundreds of thousands of applications have been created with the framework including Shopify, Airbnb, GitHub, and Hulu, among others. The key features of RoR include:
• Ruby on Rails uses the Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture
• RoR emphasizes Convention-over-Configuration (CoC) and Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY) principles
• The framework makes it easy to modify an existing code
• Rails community proactively works to identify and patch new vulnerabilities
Hugely popular among Python developers, Flask is a lightweight and extensible backend web framework. Flask helps the developers keep the core of web applications extensible and straightforward. The framework is classified as a microframework as it does not require particular tools or libraries. Flask is a “do it yourself” web framework with no database abstraction layer and standard functions provided by third-party libraries. The microframework depends on the Jinja template engine. The key features of Flask include:
• Fast debugger and built-in development server
• Jinja2 templating
• A flexible framework with a lightweight and modular design
• RESTful request dispatching
This open source, versatile and extensible Node.js framework is appropriate for the creation of backend systems that are robust and resilient. It happens to be the fastest growing forms of Node.js frameworks in TypeScript. It is usable for writing testable, scalable and loosely coupled apps. It is supportive of databases such as MongoDB, MySQL and PostgreSQL. It has major influences from React, Vue and Angular and offers appropriate dependability.
Some of the top features of Node.js are:
- The CLI or Command Line Interface is strong enough for development ease and increase in productivity
- Documentation and maintenance ease
- MIT License open-source
- It offers adequate support for nest-centric modules that help in the integration with technologies like Mongoose, TypeORM, Logging, GraphQL , WebSockets and Validation.
The Final Word
Choosing the right tech stack for web development, backend frameworks included, might not be a piece of cake, but a lot depends on the application use case and what technology pairs with it. Although most developers generally prefer working with familiar frameworks, they are often left with little choice but to try their hand at a new framework, they have never used before since enterprises are constantly migrating to newer technologies. However, venturing into uncharted territory by experimenting with new frameworks can be both fun and a great learning experience.
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