In programming, a framework is a set of components used to create the building blocks and outlines of software. In other words, it’s a tool that provides customizable solutions in order to speed up the development process.
In contrast to a simple library, a framework isn’t highly specialized and is constrained to a certain work environment. As such, it may contain several libraries, each specialized in a particular field. The concept of a framework is based on the principle of inversion of control (IoC), a design feature in which the framework calls on custom-written pieces of code when needed.
What Makes an Application Scalable?
In order to create an application that’ll be able to handle an increasing number of users over time without compromising performance, there are a number of core design principles that need to be implemented. Here are a few of them:
- Horizontal scaling: Horizontal scaling is often preferred to vertical scaling as it allows for a more cost-efficient, flexible, and hassle-free implementation. This method is also virtually limitless. As the needs grow, the company can add more instances to share the processing and memory workload across devices.
- Maintenance and automation-friendly design: Scalability requires day-to-day monitoring and regular updates. Hence, the application must be designed for easy updating and maintenance to ensure optimal performance.
- Even work distribution: To prevent bottlenecks from hurting the scalability of the app, it’s mandatory to distribute work as evenly as possible while cutting down on the core workload.
- Asynchronous architecture: The asynchronous method facilitates client-server communication by delivering continuously updated data to the user. An asynchronous architecture helps build more scalable applications as it allows software engineers to handle all tasks in progress at the same time.
- Statelessness processing: Applications that aspire to be scalable should always aim for statelessness. A stateless app is incredibly fault-tolerant because its components can be easily redistributed in the event of a breakdown. They also can be quickly scaled to adapt to changes in load.
When it comes to scaling, the framework is very efficient at handling a large volume of operations as long as they’re not too computation-heavy. Because it’s event-driven and single-threaded by design, Node.js shines at developing fast, efficient, and scalable web applications.
However, it’s worth noting that while Node.js is efficient for handling I/O-bound operations, it may not be suitable for CPU-intensive tasks due to its single-threaded nature.
- Cross-platform compatibility
- Asynchronous and non-blocking
Thanks to its modular development structure, Angular is designed to build large-scale projects that can easily sustain a sudden increase in users. Its vast library and various frameworks help make both mobile and web applications faster, more flexible, and more scalable.
However, AngularJS has been succeeded by Angular (also known as Angular 2+), which is a complete rewrite of the framework.
- Two way data-binding
- Extensive library
- Very testable
With its many features and conventions, Ember provides an optimal environment for building complex and high-scale applications. The framework allows developers to build scalable single-page web apps easily thanks to its built-in idioms, best practices, and patterns.
However, it should be noted that Ember.js has its own learning curve and may have a smaller user base than other frameworks like React or Angular.
- Data models
- Convention over configuration
- Built-in debugging tools
Although React.js isn’t a framework per se, it’s so widely used for front-end development that we had to include it in this list. According to the StackOverflow 2022 Developer Survey, React is the second most popular framework after Node.js, and part of its success lies in its scalability.
Thanks to the modular architecture of the framework, React apps are easy to scale. Its components can be conveniently extracted, merged, and reused, while its nature makes for trouble-free maintenance.
However, it’s worth mentioning that React is primarily a view library and not a full-fledged framework, although it can be combined with other libraries or frameworks to build complete applications.
- One-way data binding
- Virtual DOM
- Unidirectional data flow
Meteor.js’ popularity lies in its features that make it easy to develop real-time web applications while maintaining high flexibility and scalability at each step of the process. In addition, Meteor is very beginner-friendly, as it requires a low amount of code to develop applications, and it can be used with other frameworks such as ReactJS and AngularJS.
The framework provides easy horizontal scalability through the possibility of running various copies behind a load balancer.
However, it could be noted that the popularity of Meteor.js has decreased in recent years, and developers may prefer other frameworks for specific use cases.
- Real-time applications by default
- Easy to convert web apps into mobile apps
- Rapid prototyping
Selecting the most suitable framework for your project is only part of the equation. To build an efficiently scalable application, you must complement your framework with the right library. Many choose to integrate React for the many reasons mentioned above, but there are close to a hundred libraries to pick out from depending on your needs and preferences.
Finally, even with the optimal framework, you’ll need to come up with a solid plan. Prior to conceiving the app, you’ll want to assess your scaling needs, define potential challenges, and select the right tools and metrics to monitor the app’s scalability. All this while making sure that you correctly implement the aforementioned core design principles.