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How Do You Decide Which Framework to Use? 291

GPolancic asks: "Software frameworks are increasingly popular software reuse technique, because they provide infrastructure functionalities to an application, or a layer of an application and therefore reduce the work of a software developer. Numerous complementary (for example: Struts and Hibernate) and competitive (for example: JSF vs. Struts or JSF vs. ASP.Net) software frameworks are available as both proprietary and open source software. A major precondition for the success of a software framework is their acceptance, which is related to market share or community size. On the other side, application developers need to review and select the best available software framework for their needs. Which factors do you evaluate before you decide to use a specific software framework?"
"Our presumption is that software developers mostly evaluate following software framework characteristics based on:
  1. perceived ease of use (e.g. easy to learn, easy to adapt)
  2. perceived usability (e.g. improving developer performances, reducing work, faster development),
  3. perceived sustainability (e.g. perceived long term support, supporting standards, clear project directions) and
  4. perceived fit to specific developer requirements (e.g. suited language, suited functions, suited architecture).
What are your criteria? Do you support the factors listed above? I am not asking for a preference on a specific software framework, but rather an explanation on the non-trivial task of framework selection, which might be very usable for both frameworks developers and framework users."
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How Do You Decide Which Framework to Use?

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  • Easy to decide... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moronikos ( 595352 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @12:43AM (#14790440) Journal
    You use the one your boss tells you that you are going to use.
    • Re:Easy to decide... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hutchike ( 837402 )
      So true! I worked at a place where our boss decided that every framework class was to be wrapped in a bespoke wrapper with a slightly polluted API, meaning all my skills were unportable and my pay check never rose too high (until I quit).

      How Dilbert [] life was back then in the late 90's. Sure it was a long time ago, but I bet it's "good practice" someplace...

    • by jZnat ( 793348 ) *
      What if you're said boss and need to pick out some possible frameworks for use? Somebody has to make the decision somewhere along the line of management.
      • by masklinn ( 823351 )

        Just tell your devs to use "the standard of the industry" == what everyone uses (struts) even if it's a fucking piece of crap (struts) and if dozens of projects have failed because of this heap of dung (struts).

        Because that way, you protect your ass: if the project fail, can't be your framework choice, you chose "the standard of the industry", it's obviously because of the devs... or the marketting... or the hardware... but not you.

  • I would've thought things like prototype.js and ruby on rails would be better examples of frameworks in proliferate use today than those provided in the blurb.

    but then again i could just be karma whoring. so whatever!
    • Do you also think linux is easy enough for your grandmother? Do you also think ogg vorbis has widespread use?

      I think you've spent too much time on slashdot.

    • You would of thought wrong.

      Hibernate and Struts are both very well known packages for the Java world. My company has plenty of apps that use both of them.

      As far as ruby on rails... who in the business world uses that? Can you name any website or application currently in production that does. I have a guy who messed around with a website using it, but it is far from perfect and far from production.
      • Re:missing (Score:3, Informative)

        by Trejkaz ( 615352 )

        "Can you name any website or application currently in production that does."

        The Rails Wiki [] has a list.

      • "As far as ruby on rails... who in the business world uses that?"

        Mostly people who you won't notice until they pass you like you're standing still:-)
  • by croddy ( 659025 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @12:45AM (#14790455)
    Personally, I'd pick Ruby on Rails. Not that I have any technical reason to prefer it, mind you... but man, it's so jam-packed with alliterative goodness and it's all Web 2.0'ed out and shit. And it has some crap called a scaffold. Do you have any idea how many struts it takes to build just one scaffold? No? Well it takes a lot!!
  • by IntelliAdmin ( 941633 ) * on Friday February 24, 2006 @12:49AM (#14790473) Homepage
    This is almost as bad as asking "What programming language to use for a project" It all depends on the needs and experience of those involved. Sometimes it means rolling your own, other times it is better to get one that has been fully tested in the field for some time. Either way it is a silly question to ask.
    • by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 ) <> on Friday February 24, 2006 @01:04AM (#14790538) Homepage
      More to the point, the design will answer the question for you (as it does for the 'what programming language' question).

      You design the application *then* you start making technical decisions about implementation - not the other way around.. there's already too much crap produced by people who *must* use the latest wizzy 'framework' and then design an app to use it regardless of the functional requirements.
    • I wouldnt' say silly. The specifics of the question itself if silly, but the overall question can be discussed vagely enough. And unfortunately, answered vagely as well.

      You can pretty much ignore this, as I am kinda just doing a self ping for a later read ;)
    • No, I think this is a great question to ask: regardless of language (and hype), a framwork - at least for me - has to help me with the following:

      - DRY: I hate re-inventing the wheel everytime I pick up a new project. Not repeating yourself in intra- application code and inter-application code is a must.

      - Rapid Application Development: if the framework is saving me time and speeding up the iterative development process, its a go. If I'm stuck trying to stay with in a structure or conform to someone else's st
    • So the answer to the submission is "Whatever is needed." Another pointless article.
      • by Dlugar ( 124619 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @01:32AM (#14790634) Homepage
        So the answer to the submission is "Whatever is needed." Another pointless article.

        You're all missing the point. The question isn't "Which Framework Should We Use?", the question is "How Do You Decide Which Framework to Use?"

        The answer the first question is, quite obviously, "Whatever is needed." But the second question is asking, in essence, "What factors do you use in determining 'whatever is needed'?" That seems like an interesting question, and I'm surprised people don't seem interested in discussing it.

    • This is almost as bad as asking "What programming language to use for a project"

      No it isn't. He asked "How do you decide which framework to use?", not "What framework...". That is a completely different type of question, and a very pertinent one.

      The same answer to his question could lead to the choice of various frameworks for various projects, depending on the circumstances.

      If you think it is silly to ask about how to go about making a rational decision, you presumably think rational decisions are silly. (
    • Last time I was in this situation, back in 1997, I rolled my own []. It's served me very well for nine years, but increasingly design commitments I made early have started to seem wrong in terms of subsequent developments. Now I'm thinking of where I go from here; I've been thinking about the features a modern software system [] should have. And I've got a proof of concept which generates all the elements of a Web application from a single source file [].

      I haven't yet decided which way I'm going to jump. But I hav

  • by quantum bit ( 225091 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @12:50AM (#14790479) Journal
    I've played with a bunch of frameworks based on Java, Ruby, Python, etc... However for my last few projects I decided to go "old school". Since the target platform was Windows, that meant plain C and Win32 API. No MFC or anything. Staticly linked libpq if I need database access. Extra plus is that without C++ or COM frameworks, I can use mingw gcc on my BSD workstation to cross-compile.

    It was a little more work up front, but I've gotten nothing but extremely positive responses about the interface. The application binary usually is under 50k, even the larger ones don't break the 100k barrier. They're extremely quick and responsive on modern machines, and still very usable on older ones. I like to do processing asynchronously (i.e. user types a few characters and a DB query kicks off in the background when they stop typing) and it keeps things snappy. It's pretty easy to literally run circles around all the bloated apps eating up tens of megs of memory or more.
    • Another upside is that there's no one but you who can fix or maintain it! ;-)
      • Haha, well that may or may not be an upside, but I consider that a quality-assurance measure. After all, any competent and intelligent programmer or engineer will be able to figure it out. It's only the java-monkeys with paper certs and degrees in meta-theory who have never touched any real code (without 3+ layers of abstraction) in their life that will be lost. ;)
    • an app that uses 10's of megs!?! you mean like, on a SERVER!?!
      OH NOES! It'll never handle it!
      Are your win32 calls supported by WinXP and Win2000?(probably) How much effort would it take to port it to linux? Are you helping lock your organisation onto a single software platform?
      • If he is smart, he has confined all his platform specific code to a single library, or collection of libraries, with abstract interfaces. He shouldn't really be doing much in the way of system specific syscalls, so odds are its not that bad to port. Not as easy as Java or Perl, but still - a well designed C program shouldn't be all that bad to port.

        This does assume competentcy on the part of the developer, but pretty much all programming does that. C can just bite a bit harder when this is lacking.
        • "If he is smart, he has confined all his platform specific code to a single library, or collection of libraries, with abstract interfaces."

          That sounds like a good academic approach. It's a good professional approach too if there's a reasonable expectation that the application will be ported to another OS.

          On the other hand, most applications will never be ported from the environment they started on and the extra effort and added complexity of adding a layer of abstraction that doesn't model the problem being
    • A Vision About This (Score:2, Interesting)

      by rubypossum ( 693765 ) *
      As a long time Unix/Linux programmer I've used a lot of software frameworks. Everything from web based frameworks such as Ruby on Rails [], JSF [], Zope [] and PageKit [] (my favorite.) To desktop application frameworks/toolkits like wxWidgets (wxPerl and native c++), AWT, GTK#/GTK+/Guile, QT, VB.NET/Visual Studio.NET and FLTK.

      As I've begun writing applications for a living I've gradually been looking for a easy easy easy method of application development. Something that is truly RAD. For desktop applications I've se
    • This just in from your boss. Management heard of this web thing, and they've decided that all apps are to be ported to be developed and converted to web applications. They're confident that your model and controllers are portable, and since C and C# are really the same thing, you should have no trouble converting, right?

      Perhaps this seems like a crazy situation to you, and that it'd never happen, but at my last job, they hired on a head architect and he and another developer convinced management to move
  • It all depends (Score:2, Insightful)

    by owlman17 ( 871857 )
    ...on your budgetary constraints, whether you're willing to invest in expensive frameworks that you have to pay for over and over again, or go FOSS. It will also depend on your company's systems. Some frameworks have relatively steep requirements.

    As much as its easy to suggest "use-this-or-that-framework-because-its-the-best", a quick inventory of what you have and where you're willing to go in the long run brings everything back to earth. Sorry if I didn't answer your question directly, but there are a lo
  • by gadzook33 ( 740455 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @12:56AM (#14790504)
    Evaluate each one based on what's important to you. What language do you use? What platforms do you support? What libraries do you incorporate vs write yourself? I'm not sure there are shortcuts to answering any of these.
  • by hermank ( 101000 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @12:58AM (#14790507)
    Hmm.... I think you should read this first, in case you didn't. .3.219431.12 []
    • by russellh ( 547685 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @02:19AM (#14790776) Homepage
      snarky. reminds me of why I dislike joel on software.

      It is claimed in that article that the distinction between a framework and a library is a subtle one. Not so, not so. Programming languages are themselves frameworks, whereas an add-on framework is often a poorly implemented, misunderstood, misappropriated, half-assed, dumbed down, broken programming language. It is an attempt to add task-based end-use assumptions to a language, to turn an existing language into a special purpose tool. That could be bad, unless the framework was designed by someone who understands programming language design, or if it is done in a language designed with such extensions in mind - CLOS for instance.

      So either forget frameworks, or choose them as you would a programming language, and accept that you have to learn and play by their rules, philosophy, paradigm, what-have-you. Just as you wouldn't want to write C style code in CLOS, you would rather learn and use the CLOS special facilities. CLOS *is* a framework, as is C, as is any programming language. This is why Objective-C is the greatest language EVAR, it took two completely at-odds programming philosophies and bashed their heads together. C, fark your static type system and compile-time checking! Smalltalk, let me introduce my old friends malloc() and SIGSEGV! ..but to answer the poster's question, first choose a language that best matches your problem domain, ensuring (hopefully) the minimum size of the framework and minimizing philosophical contradictions between it and the host language.
    • An important insight that is highlighted in the parent article is that Libraries are better than frameworks. The distinction being that Libraries contains code that you don't have to write where frameworks dictate the way you write code.

      As a Java programmer for many years I can relate to the above article, there is simply too many frameworks, config files and overhead required in proportion to the size of most projects.

      In the end your choice should be about *overall productivity* which is different to every
  • by wrook ( 134116 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @12:58AM (#14790508) Homepage
    I think the very first question you should ask yourself is, do you really need a framework?

    Yes, reuse is good. But too much functionality in one package is not necessarily good. Sometimes it is better to rely on multiple small reuse libraries than on one "all singing, all dancing" framework.

    For instance, if you have a large number of teams, do they all have the same needs? If the teams have divergent needs, picking "the best compromise" in a framework can have negative implications on their productivity.

    Also, is the quality of the framework consistent across the whole system? For instance, if you have network class libraries and gui class libraries, are they both equally good? Or are you sacrificing on one side to get the benefit of another?

    What are your maintenance/upgrade needs? While it's relatively easy to keep 5 versions of a network library around for legacy applications that don't need to upgrade, it's a very different story to keep 5 different versions of .Net or the JRE around. Are you sure you want to upgrade all the apps all at the same time?

    Do you need all of the functionality the framework is bringing you? It might be nice for you to have choice, but how does the size of the framework affect the end user? If your app is small (say 1 meg) compared to a large framework (say 25 megs), it might not be so good.

    What's your backup plan? What if the vendor of your framework abandons it? Or refuses to fix critical bugs? Will you be able to find something else that you can use in its place? Smaller pieces can be replaced easier than bigger ones.

    I know this isn't the point of the question. But before you decide what framework you want, I urge you to consider whether you *really* need one at all. There are lots of reuse libraries around for every kind of application. It seems likely to me that picking and choosing *exactly* what you want for each circumstance is going to give you better results.
    • Also, is the quality of the framework consistent across the whole system? For instance, if you have network class libraries and gui class libraries, are they both equally good? Or are you sacrificing on one side to get the benefit of another?

      What I don't understand about this question is: why would you have a framework that covers both network operations and the GUI? Aren't those seperate concerns? Wouldn't you use a specialized framework for each of those operations? Example: In java, I'd use a network

    • I don't know about .NET, but keeping multiple versions of the JVM around is easy. And in 99.9+% of cases, upgrading the JVM is not going to break anything, so after a thorough test you can get rid of the old one anyway.
  • My criteria (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TrappedByMyself ( 861094 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @12:58AM (#14790509)
    1) Established - Needs to be stable and in heavy use. New stuff is fun to play with, but not an option for paying customers.
    2) Philosophy - I need to agree with the way they do things. Major reason why I ignored EJBs, but jumped on Spring
    3) Cost - I hate having to spend unnecessary $$ when team members cycle, or we have to do an install. Free is best
    4) Standards Based - Vendorlock is teh suck. I like the options of being able to swap a component if I'm unhappy with it, even if I know I'll never swap it.
    5) Familiarity/Ease of Use - Will it ease into what we're doing? Can the team become proficient in it in a reasonable amount of time? Is there decent documentation available?
    6) Licensing - I don't like unecessary limitations, or surprising my customers, so I avoid things like the GPL.
    • As much as i hate to say it I think the market determines what you should use.

      If you are working on a product you have more flexibility to choose your own frame work, but if you are consulting or responding to RFPs then you have to choose a framework that the client is familiar with and comfortable with.

      If you are going to be doing work for government or larger companies they probably already have a lot of time and money invested in a framework, so if you plan on doing work for them you better be able
    • Re:My criteria (Score:2, Interesting)

      by GotenXiao ( 863190 )
      1) In use by dozens of large corporations. Has several years of development behind it.
      2) Open source, freely linkable and redistributable in any form.
      3) Free.
      4) Can be compiled to use stdc++, or use its own internal classes. Uses native controls etc where possible. Cross platform.
      5) Very easy. Well documented.
      6) Very flexible license, few limitations.

      And what is this wonderful framework? wxWidgets.

      Compiles on Windows, *NIX, Mac, Palm (!), PocketPC (!).
      Has bindings in Perl, Lua, JavaScript and half a dozen o
  • I had written out a fairly complex post about how you need to pick "the right tool for the job" but you already knew all that crap-- if you don't need to enforce MVC, don't bother with Struts, etc.

    What you really need to look for is a mature product. Market share helps, but I keep waiting for that announcement that Ruby on Rails has some horrendous security hole because it's a 1.0 release. What you need is something that has been expanded upon, revised, and rethought a few times after having been deploy

  • My Views (Score:2, Informative)

    perceived ease of use (e.g. easy to learn, easy to adapt)
    In the business world this is huge, because time is money. That is the reason that Developers use these tools instead of developing new code from scratch.

    perceived usability (e.g. improving developer performances, reducing work, faster development),
    This might be hard to measure unless someone has used it in the past. Reviews of Toolkits are also hard to find and many places are gonna be bias.

    perceived sustainability (e.g. perceived long term
  • I wait a year or so to see which ones come out a sure winner before picking up on it.

    Hibernate and Spring are two good examples of good projects with lots of mindshare.

    Struts, however, I don't like. I don't like JSP or JBoss either.
    Those are examples of the wrong solution to the problem; the complexity of the solution being too high.

    Echo2 looks very promising, and I expect I'll be doing future development on it.
  • I've been thinking about software architecture for a while now and it's even more important in the case of a framework. I realized from using my own architecture and seeing its own flaw that a design that flows naturally from the way a person thinks is usually easy to use and coherent. What I mean is that when I'm using some part of a framework (like .Net) and I need to do something new, I would often go online and research it really quick like searching for a node using XPath when using the XML parser cl
  • by burris ( 122191 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @01:12AM (#14790576)
    If it is really popular, it must be really good. See C++, Java, XML, Windows, McDonalds, etc...
  • by 2Bits ( 167227 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @01:13AM (#14790577)
    That reminds me of a (quite large) project a few years ago. We were deciding what language to use, what framework, what methodology, etc. And the boss asked:"How many frameworks can we use in the project?" We gave a few, and he wrote down one himself. He then drew one on each corner of a paper, put his pencil in the middle, and spinned. It pointed to COBOL, which is the one he wrote down.

    Imagine the look on our face... One of the colleagues later told us he almost peed in his pants for that experience.

    Seriously though, this story is just a bit exagerated, but not that much, the selection process was almost like what I just described :)

    • A discussion for development language and framework for a relatively simple client application was raging, with the main contenders being Java, C#.NET and C++. Everyone had already come up with pros and cons of each of these, but no end to the deadlock came.

      Until a lone coder, sick at the lack of progress on this front, turned up with version 0.1 in the language of his choice.

      I hope we're not going to regret this :)
  • If you use Scheme, you don't need a framework -- it is powerful enough.

    If you use CAML/ML, there are also typically libraries of combinators (e.g. CML) that allow you to get done what you need to get done.

    People make frameworks for less powerful languages, because that's the only way you can get stuff done when your language requires so much effort to get things done.
  • You decide which framework to use the same way you decide which ANYTHING to use! You research the choices, go through the available information on each, and quickly become overwhelmed with the details.

    Then you get the one featured the most prominently in ads!

    You do have Adblock disabled, right?
  • by deep44 ( 891922 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @01:35AM (#14790646)
    I usually start by asking myself, "what programming language am I most familiar with?" .. then, once I have that figured out, I spam "Ask Slashdot" until they post my question. By then, I've already lost interest and/or forgot about the reason for needing an application framework in the first place, so I close the loop by replying to the question with a completely offtopic (yet slightly humorous) comment.

    That's just me, though. YMMV.
  • Whenever I use a third-party framework (for web development, both server-side and client-side), I spend half my bug-fixing time looking through the framework's code. It's frigging annoying! I don't know if my code's just that advanced, or if I have that much bad luck picking frameworks, but I always seem to be hitting the limitations of any frameworks I use.

    Nowadays, the first thing I do upon downloading a framework is to open a couple of its files and look at the coding style, see if I can figure out what

  • Frameworks? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Theatetus ( 521747 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @01:48AM (#14790680) Journal

    *shrug* I use Lisp. Most frameworks take about 4 or 5 macros to emulate. Not really worth the time to download any of them.

    Those who don't use Lisp are doomed to reimplement it...

    • I think the main reason Lisp isn't popular is it isn't perfectly standardized, and doesn't play well with others. If someone would just fix up the foreign function interface, and add a bad-ass selection of packages (like for Python), all other languages could go suck it. Hell, if you don't like Lisp, you could implement Java in Lisp using a few handfuls of macros, and the end result might even be faster than the JRM (seriously).
      • I think the main reason Lisp isn't popular is it isn't perfectly standardized

        Good point; unfortunately at this point the Lisp community has almost a half-century of legacy code committed to some form of Lisp or another, so standardization will not be coming any time soon. However, read-time conditionals and other read-macros go a long way towards solving this.

        If someone would just fix up the foreign function interface

        UFFI is pretty darn good. It just talks a little better than it listens.

        and add a

      • Seriously, and very probably.

        I have written a small benchmark program which does random things strings of random size.

        I implemented this in C and in LISP.

        The LISP code compiled by SBCL has the same speed as the C program, and compiled by CMUCL it is even a little bit faster.

  • I pick the one that does things my way.

    I tend to use lots of factories, singletons, stateless objects, data access components, transactions, and data validators.

    I can either write and implement a lot of these myself, or I can pick a framework that does it as much of it as possible for me.

    An interesting story, I was messing with an application awhile back. Something completely different, and i was using this framework because of its connection management. I then discovered that it everything interesting I

  • Documentation! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by metamatic ( 202216 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @01:56AM (#14790704) Homepage Journal
    The first thing I do is try to browse the documentation. If there isn't any, or it's no good, I eliminate the framework right there and then. (That kills SWT/Eclipse.)

    Next I take a look at the amount of functionality offered, compared to the pain of learning the framework, and the risk of tying my code to someone else's code that may break or not work on some platforms. Another important thing to consider is how easy it would be to write your own equivalents of the bits of framework you need. If the benefit to pain/risk ratio is too low, I eliminate it from consideration. (That's always been enough to keep me away from Struts--it doesn't seem to do anything that's hard to do anyway, so it's not worth the pain and risk.)

    After that, it might be time to look at specifics like how clean the API is, how mature it is, and so on.
  • by Runesabre ( 732910 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @02:11AM (#14790751) Homepage
    There are so many criteria you have to consider that are so situational specific that it would be near impossible to write down the complete guideline. But I think there are a few solid guidelines to start with or consider.

    1. Know what goals you have to meet. The eventual success or failure of a software project has more to do with having a strong vision of what it is you need to accomplish at the beginning regardless of platform or tool choices made before and during its development.

    2. Be wary of selecting anything because it's cool. Many engineers, I think, fall into the trap of buying into cool toys rather than selecting mission critical tools.

    3. Pick frameworks with a maturity directly proportional to the criticalness of the application you need to develop. If you are building something that is to be the the cornerstone of a company, you should pick well established frameworks that have a proven history and proven credibility to provide effective features. Conversely, feel free to experiment with less proven frameworks for applications that can afford to be less robust. A balance between sticking with tradition and building for the future does have to be taken into consideration.

    4. Identify the top 3 features your application has to deliver and ensure your chosen framework excels at those features. Bells and whistles and future expansion are nice but make sure you take care of what's critical first before comparing extra features. This will help focus your evaluation and not get side-tracked by all the cool stuff a given framework might provide.

    5. Experiment with possible options. There is no reason to select a framework based on paper analysis. Try as much to get your own hands-on experience.

    6. If possible, interview other people who have used the framework in real applications. Get the opinions of people who have actually used your options in the real world. Don't let tech demos be your only guide.
  • You need to make sure you use the simplest framework BUT does !!!everything!!! you need.

    There's a lot of over-engineered crap out there. eg. EJBs were in fashion but they were always over-engineered. Spring's in fashion now but when the honeymoon's over people will realise that Spring is just wrapper technology for existing frameworks and that it's hyped up junk too. Another example: Try and do anything complex with Hibernate and HQL. In the case of DB, SQL works so well. Plain JDBC and SQL with a little bi
    • Re:Simplicity is key (Score:5, Informative)

      by Serveert ( 102805 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @02:27AM (#14790805)
      HQL has major limitations but you can rip out into native SQL using createSQLQuery() I believe. Map it into a hibernate class and you're golden.

      When selecting aggregates, JDBC works well. But Hibernate is pretty amazing if you are aware of its limitations. 90% of my code uses hibernate, 10% uses jdbc.

      And the code that uses hibernate is pretty neat, it cuts down dev time significantly. I use hibernate tools in eclipse, point it to the DB and it generates all the classes, parsing foreign keys, making the associations.

      Don't get me wrong, I like to be unique and cynical, against the grain if you will, but hibernate, despite the jerk off creator of it, is amazing and useful.
      • HQL has major limitations but you can rip out into native SQL using createSQLQuery() I believe.

        Have you ever done it? It's awkward and you end up hand mapping from a result set. There may or may not be a better way but frankly I find the Hibernate documentation abysmal, the versions of Hibernate aren't backward compatible, and to top it off the mediators on the Hibernate forums tend to tell you to read the documentation if you raise a legimate concern (if they're being polite that day).

        When selecting aggre
  • by Jerf ( 17166 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @03:07AM (#14790946) Journal
    I've been developing for about ten years now; not as long as some people, but enough to be getting over the ten year [] hump for competency. As a result, I don't expect that everybody can pick this idea up and run with it, but it might color how you look at the frameworks.

    I'm really starting to sour on frameworks. Libraries, love 'em to pieces. You want to take care of all the bit-bashing in the video card and present me an OpenGL interface, thank you very much. You want to give me a proper 21-st century file abstract like the KDE io-slaves, you have my gratitude. But you start bundling together five or six different technologies, each themselves fairly simple, and give me this unified framework or something, and in short order I'm likely to be cranky. This is especially true for things that are themselves fairly easy, like emitting HTML.

    The problem is two-fold:
    1. The resulting framework is quite often nearly impenetrable to an outsider, so when it's wrong, it's really, really wrong; even an open source framework might be of only dubious value since you're unlikely to be able to unravel all of the pieces in any useful amount of time.
    2. As you add pieces together, the complexity of the whole increases geometrically. (Not "exponentially" as the term is commonly abused.) This can be mitigated by maturity, both of framework or core developer, but that's more rare than you might think. But the thing is, you are very unlikely to need all of the pieces. If the framework does 40 things, at a complexity of 1600, but you only need to use it for 12 things, at a complexity of 144, you're gaining an awful lot of complexity. (The numbers are of course made up, but the idea holds; don't try to over-rationalize the figures.) What's worse, as mentioned in the previous point, you might want to do 3 things that the framework fights you on, and now you're either going to have to give up on those 3 things, make unbelievably ugly hacks to get each of them half-sort-of working, or scale a huge learning curve to fix the framework that you are now significantly invested in, but know effectively nothing about the insides.

    Especially in this age of using more dynamic languages, I'm finding I'm a lot happier taking smaller libraries and tying them together with my own frameworks, which I understand and can make sing and dance in exactly the ways I need them to with only the minimal complexity.

    One important point here is the scale of development. If I'm going to do a three-week project, I'm going to probably go ahead and use a framework. But the larger the project, the larger the team, the more time that geometric price has to come up and bite you in the ass, where you Absolutely, Positively Need this thing the framework can't do, and it has to be done by tomorrow.

    Also depends on your skill level, of course. And one of the cardinal Laws of Programming is that there are no Laws of Programming, only tradeoffs. I don't expect everyone to agree, I'm not pitching this so much as throwing it out as food for thought. Caveat, caveat, caveat.

    I don't do Java, but my guess is that Hibernate, to the extent that it is a framework, is probably a win because it's so mature. But then again, you can also look at it as a really big library, because it sure does seem to play well with a lot of things. I think one of the distinguishing charateristics of a "framework" as I mean it in this post is that it is well-nigh impossible to glue two "frameworks" together, and sometimes even adding the capabilities of an additional library is an exercise in frustration. But the upshot is, I'm finding in practice that I'm a lot happier and more effective in the medium and long term, even on my own projects, with libraries that I tie together myself and not "frameworks".

    While I'm not dogmatic about any particular one of them, the Agile-style development really help with this, and I might not feel this way without their influence. Automated Test (unit tests, usu

    • The parent post made an important point, worth highlighting. Limitations. The "things that the framework fights you on" (quote from parent). Not what the framework just does not do, but what it effectively _prevents_ you from doing, or at least makes you jump through hoops to achieve it.

      Singletons in the J2EE framework. Compare this monstrosity [] with a sigleton implementation in any sane language, including the simple, non-J2EE Java. Mind you, I'm not bashing J2EE here , the singleton issue is the price you

      • Most GUI libraries built on top of the winapi at least let you get the window handle from their widget implementations so that you can get straight through to win32 and do your hacking there (possibly fkcuing up the lib, since it doesn't know about your updates, but that's another issue :) ). This is not the case with Java

        Perhaps because platform independence is one of the goals of Java, and so they can't assume that everyone is running Windows?
    • "Also depends on your skill level, of course. And one of the cardinal Laws of Programming is that there are no Laws of Programming, only tradeoffs"

      Some things are worth trading off (its not a bug, its a feature)...

      When we reach the level of automation that anyone can simply tell the system what they need in a progam, and it spits it out well optimized, then all of these programming methodologies will go the way of the roman numeral system way of doing math.

      Is it going to take all these methodologies to get
  • What is a framework? (Score:4, Informative)

    by SickLittleMonkey ( 135315 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @03:54AM (#14791067)
    A framework ...

    "... dictates the architecture of your application. It will define the overall structure, its partitioning into classes and objects, the key responsibilities thereof, how the classes and objects collaborate, and the thread of control. A framework predefines these design parameters so that you, the application designer/implementer, can concentrate on your application. The framework captures the design decisions that are common to its application domain."

    Erich Gamma et al., Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software.
    Quoted from Tapestry in Action by Howard Lewis Ship.

    Howard continues: "Frameworks are very useful; instead of your having to start with a clean slate, the design is partially filled in and the path to follow is clear. Many design decisions are already made for you, decisions that leverage the combined experience of the frameworks' authors and users."

    And that's why when weighing up JSF or Struts, I chose ... Tapestry!
  • ... what has worked for them before, on similar projects. Which may not always be the best solution, but it is usually the one that will get them up to speed in the least amount of time.
  • Guess I'm just too old school. Usually there is both a direct and specific task to accomplish and a minimum amount of code that will do it. For me it is unattractive to munge an elegant representation of the task so that it will fit within the constraints of a framework. When I first got into Zope I wanted to express everything in products and DTML or TAL, but I ended up putting almost everything in external methods in Python, because it was so much more direct. Then I started doing minimal imports or just
  • Look at the community, are newbies treated as human beings or as filth that shouldn't bother the LEET people. Is there a forum, a wiki, mailing-list... and how active are they? And is documentation updated regularly and more or less in sync with the latest version.
  • I first look at the website. If it looks like crap, I'm away.
    This may sound silly - and it is funny, I admit - but there's a serious end to it.

    If the people in charge don't have what it takes to build a website that doesn't look like someone did doo-doo on my screen, chances are their framework and documentation is a pile of half-backed bits and pieces. This is usually true on a larger scale. This rule doesn't apply to non-oss tools though.

    When it get's into the details I look at language used, databases su
  • 1. Coding Issues:
    Will it provide the services you need?
    How much of the framework are you willing to write?
    How hard is it to integrate your code with the framework?
    How easy is it to seperate your code from the framework?
    If the chosen framework goes tits-up, how easy will it be to change frameworks?
    Does it support the platforms you use?
    Would you want to monkey with the framework?
    Would you want to contribute your changes to the framework?

    2. Support
    How many other people outside the company use the framework?

  • When all other constraints are equal, the ninety second rule is a good test. If I get the general idea how to work with a framework in a minute and a half, it's probably ok. I use this rule mostly for my hobby projects, since the main constraint is time. In professional projects I can usually allocate more time to learn about different frameworks (but the result is often similar to the ninety second rule, so the remaining two days spent on evaluating something is just so that I can say something more intell
  • You really need to be looking for some more criteria when you're evaluating them. In addition to the criteria you mentioned, here are others

    Availability of tools (IDEs, Graphical Contruction Wizards, Component analyzers, memory analyzers, profilers)
    Robustness (Error checking, logging, etc)
    Support Availability
    Quickness of Dev Time
    Platform Compatability
    License Compatability with Product Business Goals (Talk with the Mgmt/Marketing folks about this in terms of which each all

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling