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QUICK GUIDE to Back-End Frameworks

Posted on 4.30.2014

In Website Magazine's Design & Development Digest column in the May 2014 issue, the topic of front-end development frameworks was the focus.

Front-end frameworks, including Bootstrap and Foundation, were profiled as well as the benefits of their use. Web workers need more than a just a presentation layer however - they need a back-end (and a strong one) too. Fortunately, there are several available options that can help.

In much the same way that a front-end framework provide a set of concepts, practices and criteria for handling the visual or presentation layer, a back-end framework or application framework is used to implement a standard structure for the actual functionality of a new application. Web application frameworks can support the development of dynamic websites, web services and standalone applications, addressing some issues as caching, security, database access, templating and session management.

So what are some of the most popular back-end frameworks in use today by developers? Website Magazine featured several in its Frameworks to Know article in early 2014 but let's take a closer look at a few of those and see how they compare today. 

Zend: The Zend Framework (now in version 2) is an open source framework for developing web applications and services using PHP (5.3+). The framework uses 100% object-oriented code and utilises most of the new features of PHP 5.3, namely namespaces, late static binding, lambda functions and closures. It's long been one of the most popular frameworks for back-end developers (novice and expert alike) but there are now a whole virtual crop of alternatives to choose from and they are coming on strong. 

There are of course many alternatives including recent entrant Phalcon PHP, a lightning fast PHP framework that makes Zend look like your grandpa (at least in terms of requests per second). Phalcon is an open source, full stack framework for PHP 5 written as a C-extension, optimized for high performance. You don’t need to learn or use the C language, since the functionality is exposed as PHP classes ready for you to use. Phalcon also is loosely coupled, allowing you to use its objects as glue components based on the needs of your application.

Zend and Phalcon are but two of the many reliable frameworks from which you can choose. There are others, including one of our personal favorites in Laravel (which happens to be experiencing phenomenal growth by the way) and several more including CodeIgniter, CakePHP, Yii, and Symfony. See a chart below that addresses the developer community's interest in these various frameworks over the years. 

Do you use a back-end framework? If so, let Website Magazine readers know which one and why you've chosen it over its competitors. 

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