A framework in software is an abstract or concrete structure aiming to facilitate the development of software applications, products, and solutions by computer programmers. It is a platform in which one finds a coherent set of structural software components. User-written code can replace codes equipped with generic functionality.
This provides a specific groundwork that developers and programmers can regularly use without changing it for each new application. Thanks to this reusable format, there is a gain of distinct functionality: a part of a larger software platform from which application-specific software can be developed. Software frameworks are also built on top of a programming language used for different kinds of programs (e.g., those for web servers). In other words, they are one of the foundational environments of computer programming.
Disambiguation of Concepts
Often there are some confusions between software framework and other programming concepts, such as operating system. The latter serves as a support for software frameworks (and more or less vice versa). For example, .NET Framework is the required support for those working with the Windows operating environment. The same goes for Android and iOS applications, which are correlated with their respective frameworks.
The library is another word that is frequently used. They have some similarities indeed: most importantly, both rest on reusable codes. However, the library refers to another type of tool collection. These tools are permanent resources of programmers while they develop X or Y functionality. Message templates are one typical example. The main difference with frameworks is an inversion of control: the developer can solicit and control a library anytime, whereas a framework is the one that controls (in a way) the developer. Plus, a library targets more specific issues, whereas a framework is more generic and provides more application development options.
Another confusing term is API (Application Programming Interface). API is the showcase of an application: it basically uses the framework’s code to establish interactions with operating systems and applications. So it also serves as a bridge between different sources of code. Compared to frameworks, operating systems, or libraries, it appears to be among the more external layers of the overall system.
Advantages of Software Framework
Nowadays, many software frameworks are cost-free and open-source. This means increased freedom and flexibility without having to deal with restrictive licenses. Users don’t need to perform additional programming: indeed, framework creators also take care of upgrades regarding performance or stability.
A software framework is a time-saving platform: there is no need to write a code repeatedly. Consequently, less repetitiveness means more productivity. Speaking of codes, even though codes are usually not modifiable, users still have the possibility to add extensions. Most of the time, several developers contribute to the creation of a framework. This means that framework is a safe option.
Summary of Framework in Software
We have briefly defined one of the pillars of computer programming, which is the software framework. Since it is quite a broad concept, we have tried to focus on its most practical aspects. Additionally, we have added reminders about some distinctions to be made within the terminology. Finally, we have provided a shortlist of the main advantages of using software frameworks. If you want a greater challenge, then check out the parameters in programming.