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Top Web Backend Frameworks in 2021

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11/06/2021 |

8 min read

Piotr Wawryka

The tech industry changes at an increasing pace, and keeping up with all of the latest trends can be hard when you're dedicating 100% of your time to learning new skills. But a good strategy is essential for growing your career. If you're looking to expand your skills in backend development, you should definitely check out the latest trends in backend technologies. And it's not just programming languages but backend frameworks as well. 

Since backend development is the backbone of every application, picking the backend framework for a project is one of the most critical technology choices a team can make. And the chances are that this year, developers and companies will be choosing from these frameworks. Here are the most popular frameworks set for fame in 2021.

 

Express.js

Express.js also known as Express is a fast and minimalist framework that has been called the de facto standard framework for Node.js. 

Popular applications built with Express: PayPal, IBM, Uber, Accenture.  

 

Pros of Express.js

  • Faster development time and greater team efficiency thanks to features like code reusability. 
  • High application performance and scalability. 
  • It's easy to learn, and the gentle learning curve is even gentler thanks to extensive documentation. 
  • Express.js is an open-source tool, so it's available free of charge. 
  • It's surrounded by a large community that can help solve any Node-related problems. 
  • It has a rich ecosystem of tools and plugins you can choose to enrich your development process. 

 

Cons of Express.js

  • It's not a good pick for complicated tasks (especially CPU-intensive ones).
  • The API is still considered as unstable.
  • The asynchronous programming model can be problematic.
  • Some developers believe that the tooling around it is immature. 

 

Laravel

One of the most popular open-source web design and development frameworks is Laravel. It's based on PHP and famous for its easy to code capabilities, simple structure, and great tools. Laravel is based on the Model-View-Controller architectural pattern, helping developers to create powerful backends for all kinds of applications and websites. It comes with a robust ecosystem that developers and companies appreciate in their daily work with the framework.

 

Pros of Laravel 

  • It offers teams a wide range of tools they can use to accelerate the development process. 
  • The model-view-control structure is a smart architectural choice for modern backends. 
  • It's easy to learn and offers extensive documentation. 
  • It offers features such as dependency injection, blade template engine, and support for elegant Object Relational Mapping (ORM). 
  • It's a good choice for teams that follow an agile methodology of software development like Scrum. 

 

Cons of Laravel

  • It has less in-built support compared to other frameworks.
  • It goes through many updates, which can become problematic.

 

Django

Django is a high-level web development framework based on the Python programming language. It comes with a handful of tools that makes the development process much faster and easier. Django is a common choice among web developers today – it scored a high rank in the Stack Overflow 2020 survey, with more than 55% of respondents saying they love it.

Popular applications built with Django: Mozilla, Disqus, National Geographic, Instagram.

 

Pros of Django

  • It's highly customizable and scalable. 
  • The batteries included approach helps developers to create a functional application faster. 
  • It supports the key database systems and migrations. 
  • Django offers advanced templates language, a handy admin panel, and forms services. 
  • You get a straightforward user permissions system.
  • Built-in security features providing protection against attacks such as SQL injection.
  • Comprehensive documentation and a large community are also key advantages of Django. 

 

Cons of Django

  • The ORM comes with a particular syntax and might not allow you to take full advantage of the SQL language. 
  • Django is a big framework, so its mechanisms might turn out to be too heavy for your application (especially if high responsiveness is important to you). 
  • It's not a good choice for smaller apps.

 

Ruby on Rails

Ruby on Rails is one of the most widespread backend development frameworks today, chosen by startups and enterprises alike. The framework matches the demands of the agile development process that helps teams in their daily work on projects. Written on the basis of the Ruby programming language, Ruby on Rails comes with features that are quite similar to Django. It follows the Model-View-Controller approach and implements the Don't Repeat Yourself (DRY) principle. 

Popular applications built with Ruby on Rails: GitHub, Basecamp, Airbnb, Goodreads, Fiverr.

 

Pros of Ruby on Rails

  • It offers access to multiple libraries and a rich selection of plugins. 
  • It's easy to learn and code thanks to a clear syntax. 
  • It's surrounded by a large community ready to help out in any project. 
  • It accelerates the development process. 

 

Cons of Ruby on Rails

  • The runtime speed and performance might be subpar. 
  • The framework is less flexible than its alternatives.

 

Flask

This micro-framework based on the Python programming language delivers a minimal number of tools to developers and requires them to configure everything manually. It comes in handy to teams that want to retain full flexibility in choosing their tooling and have full control over every element of their application. If your project architecture is based on microservices, Flask is a good choice. 

Popular applications built with Flask: Pinterest, Twilio, LinkedIn.

 

Pros of Flask

  • An excellent framework for lightweight applications. 
  • It's easy to code and understand - a great choice for beginners. 
  • Flask offers full flexibility. You gain total control of the development process and can be fully creative when it comes to building your application. 
  • It features a template engine where you can use the same user interface for multiple pages. 
  • Unit testing is easier thanks to the integrated support, fast debugger, and RESTful request dispatching. 

 

Cons of Flask

  • Launching a project with Flask is more challenging because you need more time and effort to write and configure everything manually. All of these elements are usually provided in other frameworks like Django. 
  • Since Flask gives you full control, a developer that doesn't have much experience in it risks writing poor code. 
  • Also, since Flask doesn't include many tools, you might have to install modules - and that could be considered third-party involvement that could pose a risk to your application's security if a malicious module is introduced into your application.

 

Symfony

This cross-platform PHP framework works well in large development projects that require complex features for a long-term basis. Like other frameworks we mentioned in our list, it also uses the Model-View-Controller and is a good pick for large web applications. 

Popular applications built with Symfony: Spotify, BlaBlaCar, Course Hero, Vogue.

 

Pros of Symfony

  • Symfony provides features like multi-user and multi-language content, interface patterns, and text search. 
  • It offers many plugins to carry out additional tasks and automated data migration.
  • The framework also has strong community support and is constantly updated. 

 

Cons of Symfony

  • It’s not a good choice for small-sized apps.
  • Symfony is quite challenging to learn compared to other frameworks. 
  • This results in fewer experienced developers on the market, so it might take a while to find a good fit for a Symfony project.  
  • The documentation is sometimes lacking. 

 

Spring Boot

Spring Boot is based on Java, one of the most popular programming languages. It helps developers to quickly build applications without having to worry about their configuration. The massive community around the framework offers a profusion of free learning materials and courses. Since it's multi-threaded, Spring Boot is helpful for performing long or repetitive operations (when the main thread is consumed, the framework uses others concurrently).

Companies that use Spring Boot: Trivago, Craftbase, TransferWise, ViaVarejo.

 

Pros of Spring Boot

  • It accelerates the development process and makes the team more productive.
  • It helps developers to autoconfigure all the components for a production-grade app.
  • Spring Boot provides a default setup for unit and integration tests, helping teams to create and test Java-based applications. It also comes with embedded HTTP servers like Jetty and Tomcat.
  • Developers don’t need to write boilerplate code, annotations, and complex XML configurations manually.
  • It’s integrated with the Spring ecosystem that includes Spring Data, Spring Security, Spring ORM, and Spring JDBC.
  • It offers many plugins for working with embedded and in-memory databases.

 

Cons of Spring Boot

  • Developers that want to use it need to understand the underlying Spring systems really well. Otherwise, modifying and troubleshooting it is challenging. 
  • While Spring Boot works well with microservices and its artifacts can be deployed into Docker containers, some developers don’t recommend it for building large, monolithic apps.

 

Bonus: Yii

This secure, open-source PHP web framework provides a great developer experience thanks to its many features. That’s why it’s becoming increasingly popular. It's considered the fastest framework for building Web2.0 applications, especially large projects like e-commerce, web portals, Content Management Systems, RESTful services, and more.

 

Conclusion

We hope that this list of backend frameworks inspires you to expand your skills this year and choose one that promises some really exciting projects in the next few years. 

If you're looking for more advice on building your skills and learning which technologies are part of the future, keep a close eye on our blog. Our experts will keep on sharing industry insights that are essential for smart, professional development. 

Did we miss any backend technologies set to blossom in 2021? What are your thoughts about backend development and its role in modern software projects? Feel free to share your opinions and questions in the comments!

Rated: 5.0 / 1 opinions
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Piotr Wawryka

Piotr has over 5 years of commercial experience writing Python applications. He is a software developer and data scientist at Codete since 2017 and a Ph.D. student at AGH University of Science Technology. His main field of interest is Neural Networks and their practical applications. He gives speeches at meetups and international conferences.

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