The ever growing list of frameworks
Wednesday 16 November 2005 @ 5:14 pm
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Via Matt Raibles weblog I found Simon Browns blog and this guy gave himself the impossible mission to compare the whole bunch of presentation frameworks that are currently available through the open source community. Colleague Rob de Jong already asked the question which framework to use and which not. Maybe Simon’s journey will useful answering this question but when looking at the ever growing list of frameworks, I’m more interested in the real drive behind these frameworks.

For example, I took a look at Mentawai (I won’t comment the name, promised :-) ). Not mentioned in Simon’s list but plugged into the comments section of his announcement blog. Beautiful, look ma, no XML! Completely in the style of better and lighter. But, except for the configuration approach, what does it better or faster or lighter than any other framework out there? No idea.

Another example, Stripes. Never heard of it and a quick walk through the wiki documentation showed me this framework also has some original approaches not found in other frameworks. Again, look ma, no XML! This time we have to deal with annotations hell. Okay, fine, don’t like it but can live with it. But still, I can not see a reason to select this particular framework for the applications I want to build.

Maybe, and simon’s journey might be useful, somewhere in the future my opinion will change and I will actually use or even promote these frameworks, but right now I can only conclude they are primary written to fill a gap in someone’s spare time and won’t help me finding a way to speed up development.

Personally, when looking at development speed (the number of hours a developer need to spend to get something done), I do not believe in frameworks solving trival issues like request dispatching or mark-up generation. I think we need to look at frameworks who do it all (maybe supported by frameworks focused on elementary aspects like O/R mapping, security or logging). And with all I realy mean all. The complete application. Top to bottom. The full monty. Like Rails for Ruby. Yep, I took a look at Trails and Grails and somehow both frameworks could not convince me: I do not care someone is ripping a great idea but at least rip the good things and do not introduce bad ideas like annotations (Trails is using them where Rails simply uses naming conventions (in combination with a very dynamic language :-) ) or an impossible code-deploy-test cycle (Testing Grails applications feels like waiting on a bus, step in, step out and wait for the next one). I wonder, is it me? do I miss the point? Or is it really true I’m looking for something that does not and will never exist in our world?

— By Okke van 't Verlaat     PermaLink

7 Responses to “The ever growing list of frameworks”

  1. Geert Bevin Says:

    I fully agree that frameworks should do more than the trivial things that have been rinsed and repeated an infinite amount of times. That why with RIFE ( ) we try to provide a full-stack solution that offers unique solutions to difficult problems and still aim to make it as simple to use as possible. We also have a sibling project to generate CRUD interfaces at runtime: RIFE/Crud ( Maybe you’ll find something in our approach that you couldn’t find elsewhere.

  2. Jesper de Jong Says:

    “Look ma, no XML!” - is this going to be a new trend / hype? Last weekend I was browsing in a bookstore and found a book about a new programming language, I don’t remember the name (it wasn’t Ruby), which also proudly announced “No XML!”.

    Is XML really so difficult or cumbersome? I just finished the Core Spring course last week and I find the Spring XML configuration files quite clear and easy to read.

  3. Jesper de Jong Says:

    About the idea of wanting to have a framework like Ruby on Rails which does it all for you instead of only solving “trivial issues”: I doubt if this is really the holy grail…

    Sure, if all you want to make is a simple database browser application, with a framework that does it all for you like Ruby on Rails you can generate a fully functional application very quickly.

    But if you want to make an application that’s more than trivial, you do need to spend time to dive in the code, and finding out how exactly the framework works and what it generates for you, and how you should fit your own code into it also takes a lot of time. And the more the framework generates, the more time it will cost you to find out what it does behind the scenes.

  4. Okke Says:

    I’m notlooking for the holy grail, I’m looking for development speed and I think speed can be gained in two ways: One consistent approach through-out the whole application you’re developing and by tooling like code generation for trivial task (kind of uber macro’s). Rails does both and I’m aware the nature of Rails is focused on data driven (or model driven) applications. For me, Rails is not the grail, it’s a good example we might (should) learn from.

  5. Leo de Blaauw Says:


    Well Jesper you might want to just check out ruby on rails ! It is not just about the fast generation of a crud application. We can do that in JAVA today for sure too its also about the language ruby which is much much more dynamic then java is or probably will ever be. All in all Ruby on Rails just has a much faster feedback loop when building an application which is also a benefit. Not to say we will use ruby on rails anytime soon in a real project here but definitely something to watch i think.


  6. Coen Says:

    Why use XML or JSP ? All webapps in the end use HTML, so letting your webapp spit out just HTML based on components is even better.

    I agree on the Ruby part, but still to get this new language syntax into your head takes some time. I am interested in the runtime adding of methods to a class though, that is really flexible.


  7. Sergio Oliveira Says:

    IMHO, frameworks are suppose to be:

    1) VERY SIMPLE TO UNDERSTAND AND USE: Most of the frameworks (Spring and WW) they are not trivial and don’t have good documentation.

    2) THEY MUST SOLVE AS TRANSPARENTLY AS POSSIBLE THE MOST COMMON WEB DEVELOP. PROBLEMS: Most of the frameworks just lay down a foundation and leave the dirty work to yourself almost like servlet/jsp does.



    5) THEY MUST NOT HAVE BORING XML because many people like me cannot stand a XML configuration file.

    I think the framework that comes close to this is by far Mentawai, the menta framework:

    WW is good too, but things could have been done much more simpler: why some many enablers, why injection all the time, why XML, etc.

    Sergio Oliveira

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