Quick Summary: Choosing the most popular backend frameworks from established backend libraries such as Ruby, PHP, Python, Java, Kotlin, and Node.js can be daunting. Here is your final guide on choosing the best backend framework for your project.
However, the real magic happens behind the curtain – in your app’s backend. Backend is a collection of various models and relevant tools which helps developers set up a proper framework for their mobile/web app/website or any other software solution. How you set up your backend is one of the most crucial decisions in your app development process.
In our years of experience providing full-stack development solutions to our esteemed clients, we have worked on various backend frameworks, which helps us assess them and compare their offerings to figure out the best backend framework for your project.
Note: While these benchmarks provide a theoretical reference to the offerings and limitations of different backend technologies, the end choice will depend on your existing infrastructure, budget, sense of urgency and many other factors that should be discussed with reliable consultants before making any choice.
Role of Backend in the Development Process
The backend of your project is responsible for setting up the architecture and mechanisms that would control how your app processes information, performs the right action and displays the correct information in response to the client’s inputs or needs. The backend is not concerned with the ‘view’ element. It is responsible for data storage, data structuring, making API calls and ensuring everything works smoothly on the client side, i.e., the front end.
Difference between Backend Framework and Backend Library
You might see these terms being used often when talking about backend technologies. They’re almost used interchangeably, and to an extent, it is okay to do so since backend frameworks are based on backend libraries.
So, consider this, a backend library is like an open playground; you can build your park with whatever architecture pattern you want, and sort rides as and where you like. Sounds good, right? The downside is that you will have to do everything independently from scratch. The same is the situation with backend libraries, they don’t restrain you from choosing a certain path, but the endless possibilities can make it challenging to develop a functional project as you intended.
As opposed to this, choosing a backend framework is like buying a pre-built park. You already have a structure in place, you don’t need to build everything from scratch, but you also don’t get to decide which rides would go where, as they have already been built.
Another difference in technical terms comes in what we know as ‘inversion of control’. Using a library, you decide the charge of app flow, whereas when using a framework, the framework is in charge of app flow.
Components of Backend Architecture
Next, you need to understand the various components that go into building the architecture of any backend technology. Here are the must-have components:
The server is a computer that collects details about all user interactions with your web/mobile app, interprets them and sends them across your network. You can customize responses by programming your servers to execute specific codes in response to user input. For instance, if a user enters their credit card information on your ecommerce website, you can set it to trigger automatic payment processing via a banking app.
Logic refers to the sequence of operations carried out by backend programmers to reach a specific/desired result. Your software contains certain algorithms and functions, allowing it to perform various outputs and actions based on user interaction and behaviour. The purpose of logic is to interpret input and produce a relevant output.
Databases are your storehouses for data required directly by the server to carry out essential website functions. They hold data in the form of integers, arrays and characters. Depending on what database you use and what your requirements are, they can be used for multiple cases and in multiple ways.
APIs allow software technologies to establish a communication channel with other servers and databases for exchanging information. For instance, flight booking software may use an API for fetching flight prices from various flight booking service providers based on a user’s input in terms of date of travel and other filters to offer the best deals on their query to the users.
As discussed earlier, frameworks are essentially guides that provide structure to your code, logic and all other backend architecture discussed here. They work how templates work for website design. Some frameworks come with their data libraries and in-built tools for providing programmers with more ease in their development process.
Top Backend Development Technologies 2023
Now that we understand the entire backend development without wasting time let’s find the best backend framework 2023 for your project. Here are the top picks as per Stack Overflow 2022 Report. Let’s see what the top backend frameworks have to offer:
|Top Backend Languages||Best Backend Framework||GitHub Ratings|
|Java||Spring Boot||37.7k||64.6k||Apache-2.0 License|
|Ruby||Ruby on Rails||20.8k||51.9k||MIT|
Most Popular Backend Frameworks #1 – Node.js
When to use Node.js?
Node.js has a wide variety of use cases and can be configured to power many types of software. Here are some of the popular implementations of Node.js:
- Real-Time Chat App
- CRM Tool
- Desktop Apps
- Game Servers
Key Features of Node.js Backend Framework
Node.js is packed with some good features, which makes it one of the most ideal backend technologies for most businesses. Here are some of the top features you should know about:
Node.js follows a non-blocking I/O Model, which helps improve its efficiency and memory management. With non-blocking I/O, developers don’t need to wait for operations to complete while working on the execution of their program.
Node.js follows single-threaded development, which is ideal for I/O-driven apps and negates the need for multiple threads to handle events.
Node.js follows asynchronous I/O operations, which means the program won’t block other codes from executing on the server, allowing multiple operations to function together. It makes the development process faster and more efficient than other scripting languages.
Node.js Pros and Cons
Here is a detailed analysis of the various pros and cons of using Node.js as your backend framework:
- NPM Repository
- Largest and Most Active Community
- Easy Learning Curve
- Scalable and High Performing Apps
- Relational Database Integration can be a hassle
- Not suited for CPU Intensive Tasks
- Unstable APIs
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Most Popular Backend Frameworks #2 – Django
Django is the best Python backend framework since it follows a module-based development approach that simplifies the overall development process and enables faster development. Django-based web apps are generally scalable, highly secure and database driven. An experienced Django developer can help reduce the hassle of coding your Python project from scratch by just plugging them directly into the code.
Why Python Backend Language?
Python is an interpreted, object-oriented, high-level programming framework. Generally, Python is popularly used for AI/ML implementations; however, it is also a good choice for developing task automation, data visualization, data analysis, and creating websites. It can do all such tasks while still being easy enough to learn by non-programmers such as scientists and accountants for handling their finances.
According to Stack Overflow Survey 2022, Python ranks 4th among the most popular Programming, Scripting and Markup Languages with a share of 48.07%.
When to use Django?
Django is ideal for businesses or individuals that wish to develop:
- CMS – Content Management Systems
- Social Networking Sites
- News/Magazine Sites
- API Driven Backend
- Single Page Application
Key Features of Django
Django is an excellent contender to be the best Python framework. Here are some of its unique offerings and key features that will help you understand why:
MTV: Model-Template-Views Architecture
Unlike most popular backend technologies, Django doesn’t follow the MVC architecture but instead leverages the MTV software design pattern. MTV architecture is based on separating concerns between model, view and templates. Using the MTV architecture makes Django better able to speed up the process of transmitting to the internet as the resources can be put on a CDN. This enables Django to handle traffic well while maintaining an impressive speed.
Content Management System
We are all aware of the social media giant – Instagram. Instagram allows users to share and upload multimedia files such as videos and photos. Such heavy file types require strong servers and properly established CDNs to provide a seamless app experience to the users. Django has many libraries and tools to set it up as a CMS with a good admin interface that makes setting up and running CDNs a piece of cake, which is why Instagram also uses Django to handle its backend.
Pros and Cons of Django
No backend framework is without its perks or limitations. Here are some of the significant advantages and disadvantages of using Django for your backend:
- Backward Compatibility
- DevOps Compatible
- DRY and KISS Compliant
- Highly Secure
- In-Built Admin Panel
- Vast Repository of Libraries
- Good for SEO
- Lacks Conventions
- Websites performance can vary
- Not suitable for Basic Projects
- Monolithic Approach
- Unable to Handle Multiple Requests
Most Popular Backend Frameworks #3 – Spring
Spring is a robust, lightweight and one of the most popular Java backend frameworks that make the development process easier, safer and quicker. It is highly renowned amongst developers for its simplicity in developing enterprise-ready solutions. Spring offers Spring Boot and Spring MVC, which can help make modern, cloud-ready and reactive web applications.
Why Java for Backend?
Java is one of the best backend languages for backend development. It is an object-oriented programming language popular for building complex Android and enterprise-scale web applications. It can also be used for developing desktop and scientific applications. Since it is an object-oriented programming language, you can write code once and run it on multiple platforms, making it an ideal solution for comprehensive software requirements.
According to Stack Overflow Survey 2022, Spring ranks 6th among the most popular Programming, Scripting and Markup Languages with a share of 33.27%.
When to use Spring Backend Framework?
Spring Backend Framework is best suited for businesses that want to build:
- Serverless Applications
- Highly Secure Projects
- Scalable Microservices
- Standalone Java Projects
- Social Media Integration
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Key Features of Spring Backend Framework
Spring Backend Framework has some promising features that make it worthy of inclusion in our list of backend technologies. Here are some of the notable features:
Spring comes with a bootstrapping tool known as Spring Initalizr. It provides an extensible API for creating JVM-based projects and inspects the metadata used in your project with all the dependencies and versions. It allows developers to select any needed configuration, which includes the build tool, language and understanding of the Boot framework and any other dependency needed for your project.
Autoconfiguration is a fantastic asset in a backend framework since it allows you to choose the dependencies needed for your project. Spring’s autoconfiguration will only load those specific configurations, setting up your Spring app much more conveniently and faster.
Spring CLI is Spring’s command line tool which helps fasten the app development process significantly. It allows developers to execute Groovy scripts, which makes development using Java principles much easier. Spring CLI can be used with Initializr to start work on a traditional Java project.
Pros and Cons of Spring
Here are the pros and cons of using Java Spring as your choice of backend framework:
- Lightweight Framework
- Loose Coupling
- Impressive Abstraction
- Highly Flexible
- Highly Portable
- Full Lifecycle Development
- Ease of Testing
- Cross-Cutting Behaviour
- Cost Effective
- Complex to Use
- No Given Guidelines
- Steep Learning Curve
- Filled with XML
Most Popular Backend Frameworks #4 – ASP.NET Core
ASP.NET Core is one of the most widely used open-source, cross-platform C# backend frameworks for developing cloud-enabled web apps that work on Windows, Linux and macOS. It is a massive upgrade from its legacy framework ASP.NET, launched in 2002. .NET Core was introduced on 7th June 2016, with additional support for operating systems like Mac and Linux. It follows a modular development approach.
Why C# for Backend?
C# is one of the most stable and reliable backend programming languages making it undoubtedly one of the best picks for backend technologies for web and custom software development. Moreover, C# has similar traits to C and C++, which are industry-grade backend programming languages worth learning. C# has been the preferred backend language for powering the architecture of most Windows apps and is now being used on other platforms.
According to Stack Overflow Survey 2022, ASP.NET Core ranks 7th among the most popular Programming, Scripting and Markup Languages with a share of 18.59%.
When to use ASP.NET Core?
ASP.NET Core is the best backend framework for your project if you are planning to build:
- Websites/ Web Apps
- Real-Time Apps
- Cross Platform Apps
Key Features of ASP.NET Core
Here are the most prominent features of ASP.NET Core:
One of the reasons ASP.NET Core is such a popular backend framework is its carrier-based coding model that enables developers to create industry-grade apps with a fresh UI. Razor Pages in ASP.NET Core is a simplified method of web-based programming that leverages a file-based directing approach. They are also easy to deploy and provide better performance output.
Combined Web API and MVC Frameworks
Before ASP.NET, there were separate frameworks for Web APIs and MVCs. Developers used MVC frameworks to create basic websites that work with HTML. In contrast, Web API frameworks were engineered to develop RESTful services by leveraging JSON, and XML. .NET Core combined these framework types enabling MVC to return data to JSON and HTML.
Action Filters are one of the most valuable features of .NET Core. It allows developers to leverage extensible filters. Using this feature, you can enforce capability that can be implemented to the entire controller/action without needing to make changes. Using such filters can make error identifying, handling errors or executing custom logic much easier.
Pros and Cons of ASP.NET Core
ASP.NET Core has been around for quite some time. It provides some significant benefits over ASP.NET and other popular backend frameworks. However, it has its limitations too. Let’s review the pros and cons of using ASP.NET Core:
- Allows Separation of Concern
- Out-of-the-box Features
- Simple Maintenance
- Highly Customizable and Extensible
- Reduces Coding Time
- Cross Platform Support
- Web API Support
- Scaling and Dockerization
- Steep Learning Curve
- Cross Platform Support needs improvement
- Slow and Inconsistent Updates
Most Popular Backend Frameworks #5 – Laravel
Laravel is undoubtedly one of the best backend frameworks in 2023. It is based on one of the most popular backend languages – PHP. Laravel prioritizes design and architecture over anything else. Built with a modular package and out-of-the-box dependency manager, it is one of the most reliable frameworks for handling server-side development. It follows the MVC architecture and comes with many pre-built templates which help developers create stunning web projects in shorter durations.
Why PHP for the Backend?
PHP is one of the best server-side scripting languages that execute programs on the web server without being dependent on any online browser. PHP dated back similar to Ruby, around 1995 and was one of the most popular backend languages of its time. To date, PHP is still one of the highly sought-after programming languages powering many web solutions.
According to Stack Overflow Survey 2022, PHP ranks 10th among the most popular Programming, Scripting and Markup Languages, with a share of 20.87%.
When to use Laravel?
Laravel is a flexible backend framework which can be coupled with many different frontend technologies for powering other type of software solutions. Here are some of the best Laravel use cases:
- Cloud Based Website
- Image Processing
Key Features of Laravel
Laravel is one of the best open-source PHP frameworks that adopts expressive and expressive language rules. Here are some of the most promising features of Laravel that make it one of the best backend frameworks in 2023:
MVC Architecture Support
Laravel follows the MVC architecture, which helps fasten the development process since you can simultaneously separate the development process to view and control for creating business logic. Business logic and presentation logic are kept separate, and multiple views are provided for the model without any risk of code duplication.
Laravel has a built-in command line tool known as Artisan. It helps developers automate repetitive tasks and create the skeleton code, database structure, migration and other changes to the database system. You can also generate MVC files via the Artisan command line. Moreover, experienced Laravel developers can also create custom commands using Artisan CLI.
Eloquent Object Relational Mapping
Laravel is equipped with eloquent object-relational mapping that comes with Active Record and simple HTML implementation. This makes Laravel faster than most PHP backend frameworks. Due to EORM, developers can issue database queries with PHP syntax instead of SQL code.
Pros and Cons of Laravel
Laravel is a lightweight framework that benefits from one aspect, but it also has less in-built support than some other popular backend frameworks. Let’s assess the pros and cons of Laravel as a backend framework in better detail –
- Clear and Concise Code
- Easy Learning Curve
- Human-friendly Syntax
- Wide Scope of Usage
- Large Community
- Ease of Third-Party Integration
- Difficult to find Experienced Laravel Developers
- Absence of built-in support
- Updates can be tricky
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Most Popular Backend Frameworks #6 – Javalin
Javalin is a lightweight mobile app backend framework that can be used on Java or Kotlin. It can also be used for web development. Its primary goal is to simplify the app development process while providing a great development experience and supporting first-class interoperability between Java and Kotlin. Javalin is more like a backend library than a framework since it has no pre-requirements on how you structure your app and no annotations or other elements.
Why Kotlin for Backend?
Kotlin is a modern programming language which is cross-platform, general purpose and statically typed. It is based on Java with some major modifications; however, it is configured to be fully interoperable with Java. Kotlin comes with type interference which allows the syntax to stay more concise. Apps built on Kotlin are lightweight and faster to compile. Lesser code also means lesser chances of bugs which makes it ideal for managing your backend operations.
According to Stack Overflow Survey 2022, Kotlin ranks 15th among the most popular Programming, Scripting and Markup Languages with a share of 9.16%.
When to use Kotlin?
Kotlin is generally used for setting up the backend of Android and iOS apps; however, it also supports multiplatform app development and can be used for full-stack web app development. The app code runs on JVM, enabling code sharing between different platforms. Here are some of the popular use cases where Kotlin is an ideal fit:
- Android & iOS App Development
- Full-Stack Web App Development
Key Features of Kotlin Backend Framework
Kotlin has some spectacular key features that can be leveraged to power your next web/mobile app. Here are some of our top picks:
Almost 70% of the time, Android apps crash due to null pointer exception problem of Java since Java doesn’t provide any safety measures against null value. Developers are expected to handle it by themselves. Kotlin comes with useful null safety features that help reduce app crashes significantly.
Interoperability with Java
As mentioned before, Kotlin with 100 percent interoperable with Java. Developers can call Java code from Kotlin and vice versa. Hence legacy apps working on Java can also be easily migrated to Kotlin without risk. Kotlin also comes with a built-in Java-to-Kotlin converter built directly into the IDE.
Pros and Cons of Javalin
Javalin is a promising backend framework for Kotlin. However, it has its limitations. Here are the pros and cons of using Javalin as your backend technology:
- Proper Micro-Framework
- Designed to finish Tasks Faster
- Easy to Implement and Use
- Embedded to Jetty Server
- Lightweight and Fast
- Poor Structure and Documentation
- Still needs Refinement
- Naming and Labelling aren’t according to Industry Standards
Most Popular Backend Frameworks #7 – Ruby on Rails
Ruby on Rails is a high-level, open-source, multi-purpose backend framework based on the Ruby programming language. It was released in August 2004, yet it has retained its relevance and popularity amongst developers in the battle of the most used backend frameworks. It follows the globally accepted and adapted MVC architecture and allows developers to create web pages, web services and databases easily.
Why Ruby Programming Language?
Rails is the best backend framework based on the Ruby programming language. Ruby is widely accepted and loved amongst developers since it enables them to follow strict coding standards and write quality code while keeping the code readable simultaneously.
It is one of the most popular general-purpose backend programming languages, with some of the most popular companies using it, such as GitHub, Twitter, Apple and Urban Dictionary. Ruby was initially introduced in 1995 as a scripting language. The main benefit for clients and developers alike when using Ruby as backend technology comes from its time efficiency and ability to deliver finished projects in lesser time to market.
According to Stack Overflow Survey 2022, Ruby ranks 16th among the most popular Programming, Scripting and Markup Languages, with a share of 6.05%.
When to use Ruby on Rails?
Ruby on Rails is an ideal pick for a backend framework if you want to create:
- Social Networking Sites
- Medium-Enterprise Level Shopping Apps
- Stock Marketing Platforms
Key Features of Ruby on Rails
Here are the top features you get access to with Ruby on Rails:
MVC: Model-View-Controller Architecture
As discussed earlier, Ruby on Rails follows MVC architecture which is one of the most used patterns; hence developers with a basic understanding of MVC will be able to work on your Rails project easily.
Convention over Configuration
Ruby on Rails leverages the dynamic property of Ruby language, which gives an upper edge to Ruby on Rails developers as they don’t need to spend endless hours configuring every tiny detail of the project and can leverage Ruby’s default set of conventions that work well for most use cases.
Ruby on Rails follows an active record pattern that helps Ruby on Rails developer access data in an efficient manner from databases. Each Active Record object in Rails has CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) methods for accessing the database.
Pros and Cons of Ruby on Rails
Here are the benefits and limitations of the Ruby on Rails backend framework that you should know about when selecting the best backend technology for your project:
- Rich resources in terms of tools and libraries
- Proper adherence to coding standards
- Massive and highly active community
- Time to the market reduces significantly
- Reduces your web project’s time to market
- Makes apps faster and safer
- Ruby on Rails Developers are easy to find and hire
- Maintenance and Updates are a breeze with Ruby on Rails
- Not the most flexible framework
- High cost of wrong decisions
- Unreliable Documentation
Considerations for Choosing the Best Backend Technologies
Now you know all popular backend technologies that can be used for powering the backend of your project. However, it can still be very confusing to pick the right backend technology just by reading about them.
Hence, we have jotted down some of the critical business and technical considerations to keep in mind before selecting the best backend framework for your project:
Business Considerations for Choosing the Right Backend Web Frameworks
Choosing a server-side framework is an important business decision for your company. It should be decided to keep important business considerations like the overall budget, time to market and others. Let’s discuss the most important ones in detail:
Type of Product
Matching the right technology to the right product is vital for product success. Simply choosing one of the most popular backend frameworks isn’t solve your problem; you need to pick the best backend framework per your project requirements. The best way to do so is to identify your product type.
Here are the various product types your product/service might fall into:
- Social Networking
- On-Demand Home Services
Security and Reliability
Security and reliability are two paramount aspects of any app development project. This becomes even more important when dealing with sensitive and confidential client information such as their banking or personal details; hence, if you are looking to build an ecommerce solution or BSFI app, it’s best to choose highly secure backend frameworks such as Java and Python.
Scalability and Extensibility
Suppose you want to develop an ecommerce site catering to your services in your locality only. You might look for cheaper alternatives that specialize in developing small-scale ecommerce shops. The problem with this approach is that it limits your software’s capabilities.
Plan to expand your business internationally over some duration. You will have to again migrate the project to another technology which will cost you both in terms of money and time. Hence it is important to select a backend technology that allows you to scale and descale your project as per your current business situation.
Technical Considerations for Choosing the Right Backend Technology
Last but not least, we should focus on the technical considerations to be kept in mind when browsing through the top backend frameworks list. Here are specific considerations to always keep in mind when finalizing your ideal backend technology:
It is given that you would want to choose the backend technology that performs the best. Here are some of the important metrics to know to assess backend technology performance better:
- CPU Usage
- Server Uptime
The next thing to remember is to ensure your chosen technology has proper community support. Better community participation and engagement means there would be pre-existing assets readily available for most of what you want to get developed. This helps reduce your project’s overall market time and ease development.
Moreover, if your team gets stuck on implementing a solution, they could always look into forums such as Stack Overflow to find a way out. If the technology you choose has poor community participation, you would be left on your own to figure out most aspects which can be both time-consuming and expensive.
Developer Availability – Access to Technical Expertise
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Documentation is an essential aspect of any framework/library/programming language. Proper Documentation helps developers better grasp the technology and how to leverage it for their business needs. Without such resources, your project can come to a standstill.
These are the best backend technologies you can choose from to power your next web/mobile/software project. Make sure to go through all the considerations and consult with Professional Tech Consultants from a specialized IT company before selecting the correct framework/programming language for your project.