Beware: here be frameworks!

by DotNetNerd 28. November 2014 13:43

Lately I have been speaking quite a bit about building Single Page Applications. Most recently I have been arguing that we skipped the discussion of weather or not we need a framework at all to build a Single Page Applications? Everyone quickly got into the battle of the frameworks, and argued about the good and bad parts of Angular, Ember, Durandal and a bunch of other contenders to the throne. These days I would argue that Angular won, which is supported by google batteling the frameworks, looking at training courses offered and joblistings. As a .NET developer this is furtner obvious now that AngularJS is part of the ASP.NET package, and samples are showing up that use it for Apache Cordova applications, which are also being embraced by Microsoft.

However, the more I have been working with these frameworks, the more I have started to question their actual value. At least to a point where I think it is something we need to think more about, when choosing which way to go. Sure frameworks give you a nice package that tackles application structure, routing, templating, two-way binding and dataaccess - but at what price? Using a framework, always means letting someone else decide a lot of things on your behalf, and it means taking a dependency on a large codebase. So in this blogpost, I will try and make the case for growing your own architecture.

You might think "so what, we do that all the time, we shoulden't be reinventing the wheel and what does it matter to depend on a framework". If they provide enough value I would surely agree, but it should always be measured against the risks of vendor lockin, issues with breaking changes, performance implications and restrictions on growing your application going forward. With a fast evolving web, these issues are very real. A framework might still be a good choice, but we need to at least think about the pros and cons.

Two-way binding is a huge sinner when it comes to performance and modelling restrictions, if the model chosen is not right for what you are building. Breaking changes are hurting developers daily, and with both Angular and Durandal looking to be complete rewrites for their next versions - so if you use them, you will be stuck with the current version, or you will be doing a rewrite of your own fairly soon.

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Who am I?

My name is Christian Holm Diget, and I work as an independent consultant, in Denmark, where I write code, give advice on architecture and help with training. On the side I get to do a bit of speaking and help with miscellaneous community events.

Some of my primary focus areas are code quality, programming languages and using new technologies to provide value.

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