Banana Apple Orange?

Which do you prefer? maybe all? maybe none? It’s totally up to you and down to individual preference. The same could be said for Web Frameworks. This choice has come at a time when I am deciding on a Web Framework to use for a number of projects. So this post should hopefully put some sense into the one I go for…

So what is a web framework?

A Web Framework, short for Web Application Framework, is a collection of re-usable and easily extendable code in which developers could build web applications. A framework takes care of all the mundane tasks involved in development and follow well practiced methodologies such as MVC, KISS, DRY or any other code of practice of the framework authors choosing. A good web framework removes the head-banging, keyboard-bashing, screen-swearing parts of day-to-day development leaving you with just the fun bits. ;)

There are a lot of web frameworks, as there are fruits. The three that most interest me at the moment are: Ruby on Rails, Django and The Zend Framework.

Ruby on Rails (RoR)

RoR is like the street kid of the Web; lovers of skateboards and graffiti; Cool, trendy and think they are the best! RoR is a full-stack Web Framework, meaning you either use it entirely or not.

RoR is very well documented with many popular web applications running on it.

Django

Django is like the new kid on the block with a rich dad. Django has actually been around for quite some time, born more or less the same time as RoR but has been living in obscurity. The recent news of Google AppEngine and its preference for Python has really boosted the Django community. Django was written entirely in Python from scratch even though there are myriads of existing Python libraries doing the same web tasks disparately.

Django comes built-in with an Administration area which is a big plus over RoR as in most cases there needs to be some sort of secure area for the client or customer. Django makes that easy.

The Zend Framework (ZF)

ZF is like a typical kid who gets the grades and progresses through high school without problems. PHP is about being everywhere and catering for everyone. ZF is slightly different to the other two as it’s more a library of components rather than a full-stack framework. You use what you need and could even integrate any component into existing frameworks such as CakePHP or CI. ZF is also powerful enough to be a full-stack framework in itself if you choose to build your entire web application on it.

Myth

It is a typical myth that using RoR instantaneously means you have a winning solution and enforces you to create cool & friendly websites. The fact of the matter is Rails has been marketed so well and hyped to a point it has attracted all the cool street kids who are using their graffiti skills on Rails. If these kids chose PHP or Django or whatever, they will produce the same stunning results because of their exceptional talent, not the framework they chose.

Lastly…

Something that annoys me immensely is when people compare frameworks with snotty remarks like “My one is better than yours”, “That framework is totally un-cool”, “Using my framework you can do this in 5 mins, how long does it take in yours?”

As with the recent consensus between JavaScript pioneers; it does not matter what javascript library you use or choose not to use. The key is to use one that’s right for you, your team and the project. I tend to take this stance with my frameworks too.

Obviously a framework promoting rapid development and prototyping, such as RoR and Django, makes development easier and helps developers concentrate on the more important aspects of a website – user interaction and website architecture.

Lastly, my choice is Django; at least for the current projects in hand anyway. ;)

2 Comments

  1. Vitaly at

    Your comments in Lastly… part are right on the money. And thank you for the post as a whole.

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