Platform vs Framework: Essential Differences

By Sydney Wess / 30 September 2021

Especially to someone who isn’t well versed in app development principles, it can be challenging to discern the difference between a platform and a framework. Both offer different attributes that are essential to understand when embarking on an app development project.

A platform is a set of hardware and software components that provide a space for developers to build and run applications. Examples of platforms include WordPress and Microsoft Azure.

A framework is a software-only app skeleton that includes preset tools, libraries, software development kits, and other components. React Native, Ionic, and Flutter are popular frameworks.

App Framework Examples

Source: iCoderz Solutions

Even when faced with both definitions, the nuances of platforms and frameworks can be challenging to grasp. This article breaks down the different structures, usages, and specialists for each so that you can make informed decisions within the context of your app development engagements.

Platform vs Framework: Different Structures

By comprehending the technical concepts behind platforms and frameworks, one can easily illuminate the differences between the two.

Platforms are designed to be environments for apps. Not only will developers build the app on a particular platform, but the finished product will also run on that platform. In this sense, the hardware and software components of the platform work together to support the app throughout its life.

On the other hand, frameworks are intended to be more like app templates. Their ready-made components provide some guidance to developers throughout the development process.

This allows them to build upon the framework with the customizations necessary to meet the specific needs of their end-users. However, the app will still need external support to run once it’s complete.

Understanding platforms and frameworks as environments and templates respectively can help demystify the two concepts in relation to each other.

Platform vs Framework: Different Advantages

Frameworks offer a more streamlined experience in the design and development stages of an app development project. Thanks to all the preset features, they afford teams a quicker, more efficient development experience. Companies that employ a framework rather than a platform can expect a more straightforward path from the planning stage to the app launch stage.

Conversely, platforms allow teams to progress through an app development project’s testing, launch, and maintenance stages. While more energy and effort must be expended up-front by developers who choose to utilize a platform over a framework, the full suite of tools and hosting capabilities of platforms provide a more long-lasting degree of support.

Software firms are trying to expand on these platform advantages and disrupt the development market with low-code development platforms. These platforms offer development teams the well-roundedness of a development platform, but with some of the ease of development usually reserved for frameworks.

Rather than relying solely on traditional code-based programming, low-code platforms also use visual programming interfaces that allow developers to build solutions without having to worry about writing code for every minute feature. In this vein, some providers even offer no-code development platforms that only use visual programming interfaces.

As both platforms and frameworks continue to evolve, development teams must track their advantages to ensure they utilize the proper solution for a given project.

Platform vs Framework: Different Uses

With the distinct advantages platforms and frameworks offer, it makes sense that their end-user bases would also have some differences.

Because of their end-to-end support, platforms are ideal for firms looking to build a small number of apps. While the development process will take longer than a framework, the benefits in the post-development stages of the app’s life cycle make for a more effortless experience overall.

Alternatively, companies with a wealth of development resources and an extensive suite of apps may prefer to use frameworks. Hosting and maintenance costs would be less prohibitive in this situation, allowing for a full appreciation of the development efficiency provided by opting for a framework.

An inexperienced team only looking to develop one app may also choose the framework, though. If non-development responsibilities were already set to be outsourced, an easier development experience would be preferable from an internal standpoint.

Understanding Differences Between Platform vs Framework

While the differences between platforms and frameworks may not be readily apparent, taking the time to learn them is crucial to anyone involved in an app development project. While the two may be a part of the same development project, there are numerous important distinctions that will make or break your understanding of a development project.

By considering their respective technical makeups, advantages in the development process, and ideal end-user groups, you can ensure you’ve invested the proper amount of consideration when it comes time to make the platform vs framework decision for yourself.

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