If you have been keeping up with technologies lately through various news sites like Hacker News and in the open source community on GitHub, you’ve probably noticed it seems as if there have been web development frameworks popping up left and right. It can be overwhelming to follow them all and understand how they are causing things to change in the technology world.
As developers, we want to be able to catch a web development trend early and improve our skills with the technology that will be used in the future. Let’s discuss the effects of web development frameworks and how they drive change in languages.
What is a web development framework?
Before we continue, let’s make sure that everyone is on the same page regarding what exactly a web development framework is. It is defined as software made to aid in the creation and development of web applications. These framewoeks are usually made to help out with speeding up common tasks that a web developer runs into.
There are client-side frameworks, which help with speeding up front-end work, along with helping us create dynamic web pages. Some examples would be React.js and Angular.js.
There are also server-side web development frameworks that help with creating a server, handling routes, and much more. A few examples of this kind of framework are Express.js, Django, and Rails.
Now we know what exactly web development frameworks are, but how do they affect languages?
Effects on languages
StackOverflow recently came out with a new Developer Survey for 2017, in which they interviewed 64,000 developers and asked them a wide variety of questions. One question was about their usage of various languages. Here is a graph of their findings:
If you look at this graph, it shows you the percentage of developers using a language in the year 2013, and compares it to 2017. Four years may not be a long period of time for other fields, but for software engineers, that is a century. We can see that the usage of languages such as C#, C, and C++ has been decreasing over these years. Meanwhile, Node.js and Python have increased in usage.
After doing some research on the number of prominent web development frameworks that have come out for these languages in the past few years, I noticed a couple of things: C had one framework that came out in 2015. C++ had four web development frameworks over those years. On the other hand, Python had 17 frameworks aiding its development, and Node.js had nine frameworks in the past 3 years alone.
What does this all mean? Well, it seems as if the languages that received more web development frameworks in order to make development easier for engineers saw an increase in the number of users, while the others, which did not receive as many web development frameworks, ended up being used less and less.
Verdict: There must be a correlation at least between the number of web development frameworks and the corresponding language’s usage.
Ease of use and quality
Not all of these frameworks are created equal. Some web development frameworks are extremely easy to use when starting out, and for others, it can take longer to create your first web application. Time is a factor when learning a new framework (or migrating existing software to it), and if it is not easy to pick up that framework, it can be a barrier to its usage.
Lastly, if the framework itself does not actually make web development tasks for the engineer any easier, or not much easier, then that language will end up being used less.
Verdict: If the framework is easy to use and speeds up development time, more people will use it and move toward it.
Overall, there are two clear factors of web development frameworks that drive changes in languages. If there are plenty of frameworks, people will be more likely to use the language that the framework was created for. If the frameworks are simple and really speed up development time, that also will increase the language’s usage.
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