Back to Basics. The Difference Between Programming Languages and Frameworks
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July 27, 2022
HomeBlogBack to Basics. The Difference Between Programming Languages and Frameworks
It’s essential to know every bit and byte of your software project to ensure its reliability and security. However, sometimes it is not so easy to draw the line between some core concepts involved in the development process. What’s the difference between front-end and back-end? Are UI and UX two different names for the same thing made up by somebody to trick the newbies? These and many other questions are pretty obvious to answer for specialists involved in programming. But people not familiar with the peculiarities of this craft may find terminology confusing. Today, we’ll try to fix it and consider the differences between programming languages and frameworks.
What’s a Programming Language and When it Turns into a Framework
In a few words, programming languages are nothing more than a set of rules by which you can make a computer do what you want. Let’s consider a canonical example that every person starting to learn programming faces. We’ll make the computer say hello to the world. For that purpose, you can, for example, use the C programming language:
Or you can prefer Python if you’re in a hurry:
As you can see, some languages have pretty strict rules of how to reach specific goals. Some others, like Python, for example, enable better readability and allow achieving more with fewer lines of code.
Apart from the syntax, there are tons of other aspects that characterize a specific programming language. For example, when we deal with interpreted programming languages, the interpreter reads the source code of your application line by line and performs actions about which you kindly asked it. With compiled programming languages, the compiler must first turn the source code into an actual application that you can run. Using low-level or high-level languages determines whether the source code will be easier to understand for computers or human beings. There are many other aspects that allow us to assign a programming language to a particular category, and we’ll consider them in more detail the next time.
As you can see, modern programming languages provide enough flexibility to build any kind of applications. Unfortunately, in some scenarios, the functionality that programming languages by themselves provide is not enough.
Let’s imagine that you want to build a house and have every kind of tool in your possession. Hammers of every imaginable size and shape, shovels, chainsaws, electric drills, concrete mixers, and so on. The problem is, to build a door, you’ll have to go to the forest, find a suitable tree, cut it into parts, match them together, paint, attach handles and hinges. Crafting a window will take much more time and effort. Plus, no one knows what glass is made of.
The more optimal approach implies the use of pre-build components you can combine following specific rules and using the tools you have. You can use bricks to build the walls and shingles to cover the roof. Doors, windows, and pipes can be combined to ensure that the house of your dreams looks and functions the way you want. However, one must not forget to test everything to make sure that the chimney does not fall off every time you try to open a window.
As you may have guessed, in this analogy, ready-to-use blocks represent frameworks. Developers use programming languages (hammers, shovels, etc.) to build frameworks (doors and windows) to be used by other developers in their applications. Frameworks not only provide a set of specific elements but also prescribe the rules of using them. These rules describe how to write the code and also determine for which part of the application a specific framework should be used.
Back-end frameworks are also a pretty broad topic. Everything that happens on the server side of the web application is as important as an eye-catching and reliable interface. Here, programmers can rely on such PHP frameworks as Laravel of Symfony, for example, or Django made with Python.
Benefits of Using Frameworks in Web Application Development
The process of web application development implies that programmers repeat some parts of their work over and over again. For example, a developer can spend some time creating a button that sends the data necessary for registration to the server. In other parts of the app, buttons are also required, but they have different purposes, so they must be reprogrammed. Using frameworks helps to automate repetitive tasks to some extent, which makes the development process more efficient. Built components can be used in different parts of the application, or even in different projects, which saves tons of time.
It may be pretty hard for a programmer to keep in mind all potential security vulnerabilities. If you use programming languages to build everything from scratch, you’re responsible for protecting your application from different cyber attack scenarios. Framework developers who are involved in building and maintaining a specific back-end technology, for example, are well aware of all its weaknesses and can fix them in a timely manner. Therefore, the use of a reliable framework which is actively developed and maintained with the right attitude can improve web application security.
Frameworks can increase readability and maintainability of code. Different programmers have their own vision of how to use programming languages to implement specific functionality. Since frameworks provide developers with a set of rules to follow, the development team, to a greater or lesser extent, will work in a common direction. Building and maintaining a comprehensive web application may take months and years. Therefore, it is quite likely that people who did not originally develop the system will be involved in the process at some point. In this scenario, source code written with a specific framework and under its basic guidelines will mean that the new developer will have one less problem.
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