The 10 Most Popular Java Frameworks

To help your developers get the most out of Java, you need to make sure they have the necessary frameworks to help them get the job done right.
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Java is still one of the most popular programming languages on the planet. There are several reasons for its continued usage. For one, Java is the primary language for the most popular mobile operating system on the planet, Android. Another reason for Java’s continued rise is its reliability and scalability. And because so many industries (such as banking, finance, retail, Big Data, IT, scientific research, and the stock market) rely on Java, this language isn’t going anywhere.

So, for any business looking to continue its digital transformation to meet the needs of modern technology and consumers, Java should already be in use throughout their company.

But on its own, Java can only do so much to empower your developers. To help them get the most out of this language (so they can build better and faster), you need to make sure they have the necessary frameworks to help them get the job done right.

For those who have never heard of a framework, consider it a collection of functions, libraries, and other bits of code that not only make it easier for developers to build, but to help indicate what kind of programs can or should be built and how they can connect to one another. Frameworks make it such that engineers don’t have to “recreate the wheel,” by allowing them to pick and choose pieces to use with their original code. 

Frameworks are designed to be universal and reusable, so the job of the software engineer is considerably easier.

With the definition of a framework out of the way, let’s now take a look at the top 10 frameworks you should consider for your developers.

Spring

Spring is one of the most widely-used Java frameworks primarily for the development of web applications. Spring supports such things as application events and listeners, externalized configuration, YAML, and type-safe configuration.

One of the biggest advantages of using Spring is that it employs Inversion of Control, which makes it possible for you to create a functioning whole out of disparate components. 

But why should your developers make use of Spring? For starters, Spring is the single most popular framework for building Java-based web applications. Spring is also capable of exposing RESTful services, includes Spring Security (which adds both authentication and authorization features), and is capable of establishing JDBC connections.

Struts

Apache Struts has been around for over 20 years and was designed to inherit the Java Servlet API properties, which eases the development process of Java EE web applications and encourages a Model-View-Control architecture. Struts uses XML-type files for centralized configurations and drastically reduces the overall development time of web applications. 

Struts also includes theme and template support, POJO-based actions, configurable MVC components, tag support, and integration support.

Google Web Toolkit

Google Web Toolkit (aka GWT) is yet another open-source framework that helps web developers create and maintain complex browser-based applications. The goal of GWT (pronounced “gwit”) is to enable the productive development of web applications without requiring the developer to be an expert in every browser behavior and quirk. 

The GWT toolkit includes all of the Java API libraries, a compiler, and a development server. With GWT developers can write client-side applications in Java and deploy them as JavaScript.

Grails

Grails is an open-source web application framework that uses the Apache Groovy language (which is based on Java) and follows the “coding by convention” paradigm. Grails serves as a standalone development environment and obfuscates most of the configuration details from the developer.

Grails was developed to provide a solid web framework for Java, re-use existing Java technologies under a single interface, offer a consistent development framework, and include plenty of documentation. 

Grails includes 3 particular variations on the standard Java web framework, which are:

  • No XML configuration is necessary
  • Ready-to-use environment
  • Functionality is available through a method that is added to a class dynamically (called mixin)

Play

Play was written in Scala and is used for both web and mobile application development. Because Play is compiled to Java-Bytecode, it’s one of the most powerful Java frameworks on the market.

Play includes plenty of features to make it a favorite of so many Java developers. With just a browser and a text editor, you can quickly make changes on the fly with the help of features like hit refresh workflow, powerful console and build tools, type safety, and built-in testing tools. Play also offers support for both the Eclipse and Intellij IDEA IDEs.

Hibernate

The Hibernate framework has become so popular due to its ability to extend Java’s Persistence API support. What sets Hibernate apart from other tools is that it provides the framework for mapping an object-oriented domain model to a relational database, which is achieved with the Hibernate Query Language.

HIbernate features caching, auto-generation, scalability, reduction of redundancy (via the JDBC API), supports Persistence APIs, and allows the communication between an application and any supported database.

Dropwizard

If you’re looking for a lightweight and easy-to-use framework, Dropwizard might be exactly what you need. This framework makes it possible to build Java-based web applications and RESTful web servers quickly.

Dropwizard supports monitoring (via the metrics library), uses the HIbernate Validator API, supports Logback and SLF4J for logging, and packages every application as a jar (instead of a war file).

With Dropwizard, you can build microservices and do rapid prototyping for your applications.  Dropwizard is operations-friendly, open-source, and supports the use of external libraries.

Vaadin

Another open-source framework specifically designed for the creation of web applications, Vaadin uses HTML5 and Java-only type-safety for development. If you’re looking for one framework to help you build web applications with heightened security and great UX, this is probably the framework you want.

Vaadin comes with over 45 UI components to make it even easier for you to build quickly and reliably. This framework also includes the Vaadin Collaboration Engine, so your developers can integrate collaboration features into your web applications.

Blade

Another lightweight Java framework, Blade is used extensively for full-stack web app development. Blade is a templating engine that is part of the broader Laravel framework, which is used to create complex web-based applications in Java.

Blade is a very user-friendly MVC framework and works on a modular basis, so you can cut your applications into modules (which is very helpful for debugging). Blade includes plug-in support and works with JSON configuration files.

For anyone looking to start with the simplest Java framework, Blade may be just what they’re looking for.

Wicket

Another framework from the Apache Foundation, Apache Wicket has the goal of bringing the web into the modern Java era. The latest release of Apache Wicket was built on top of Java 11, so it is capable of keeping up to date with the continued evolution of Java.

Wicket allows you to protect your apps with Content Security Policy, which is a modern standard that allows applications to declare approved origins of content before the content can be loaded into a browser. Wicket also supports AJAX, various result types, tags, themes and templates, POJO actions, and configurable MVC components. 

Conclusion

If you’re looking for the best framework to assist your Java developers to work more efficiently and reliably, any one of these should do. Web applications are more popular than ever, and your developers need every tool they can get to keep up with (or beat) the competition.

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