What is a Framework?

FrameworkWhen you first start learning programming, one of the concepts you hear a lot about is a framework in website design. A framework is a software design tool that gives programmers a project architecture to start with when writing software. Most frameworks create a project folder hierarchy within an integrated development environment, or IDE, and then the developer simply fills in the application logic where it needs to go in the various layers of the project.

How Frameworks Are Used

For example, the Android framework is integrated with Eclipse and Android Studio, and when you start a new Android project, the Android developer tools plugin walks you through the steps of naming your project and creating the basic starting files, such as the main Activity class and the Android Manifest. In a similar way, the Django framework creates a new project folder hierarchy when you use the “startproject” command, and then you fill in all the program logic where it needs to go in the application template, model and view layers of the program.

Frameworks impose a design pattern on your software, and they make it easier to write complicated programs by abstracting away many of the small details that are the same from project to project. For example, writing Android apps would be extremely difficult without a framework to glue all the system calls together when your program needs to do something like query the user’s contact list or launch a background service. The framework allows you to include the required services in the Android Manifest and use the operating system’s SQLite database to search for static data. It also lets you drag images and media files to the appropriate folders in the Android project so that they can be used in your application.

Elements of a Web Application Project

A Django project consists of a static database file, many Python modules defining the application behavior and any scripts required for the application template. Scripts can be included directly within the template code, or they can be referenced from external files. It’s not always necessary to use a full-featured Web design framework like Django when building Web pages, and sometimes all that’s needed is a simple Python app that runs on the server using FastCGI or the WSGI interface, according to the Python website. There are also more lightweight frameworks, like Flask and Bottle, that use WSGI or other interfaces for executing Python code. The WSGI interface is the fastest method of executing Python code on a Server, but because it only works with Apache, it’s sometimes necessary to use FastCGI or an alternative.

A framework is different than a programming language, but it’s based on a language and uses it for creating a project. Django works with Python, Android works with Java, Laravel works with PHP, and Cocoa Touch works with Objective C. A framework also isn’t the same as a library, although some frameworks include libraries of code designed to work as efficiently as possible on a particular platform. For example, the Android Java libraries are optimized for smartphones and tablets.

Related Resource: Model-View Controller

Designing websites is an important skill to have for any software developer, and understanding what a framework is gives you valuable insight into this field of programming. If you’re a computer science student or just interested in building apps, you should learn how to use a framework in website design.