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Choosing a Web Development Framework

September 12th, 2018

I recently had the opportunity to develop a small online booking system. This time round I was determined to make use of some development framework. Not for me the slow slog of writing all my code from scratch – surely we have moved beyond that now in web development?

The big question was – which framework to use? Since the advent of Ruby on Rails, development frameworks have become quite the flavour d’jour and there are now, well, maybe not thousands of them, but quite a few! The last time I heard there are about 80 development frameworks out there. I am not 100% user of this number, it could be a bit higher, it could be a bit more conservative (on the phpwact site you can find about 40 PHP frameworks listed). The point is, the web developer is now really spoilt for choice. Which is a problem in itself, since having too much choice can leave you dithering between different options.

This article is therefore about how I made my choice, which was CakePHP, and which factors I took into consideration.

Obviously, and certainly, I will get bombarded with “Why don’t you try X framework, it is really much simpler to use…” type responses. That is quite OK, to each his own! But this is the choice I made and I am sticking to it. Frankly, the idea of going through another learning curve gives me the heeby-jeeby’s….

I found that the selection criteria were not independent. In other words, once I have ruled out some frameworks due to some specific criteria, other factors came into play. It was therefore more a process of elimination than judging all the frameworks off a predefined set of criteria.

The first major selection point was: Ruby on Rails or not.

Obviously there is the attraction of using a brand new, hip, buzz-word hyped framework. You can’t go wrong with something that is getting so much attention… or can you?

Let’s look at some of the selection criteria that filtered out Ruby on Rails

1. Ease of installation and ability to run on shared hosting The problem is that most of my clients make use of a shared hosting environment. Can Ruby on Rails run on common-or garden variety type shared hosting? The answer was, I soon discovered – no. One needs to either have access your own private servers or run on a shared hosting environment that has Ruby on Rails preinstalled. Admittedly, there are a couple of them now starting up.

2. Minimize the learning curve Even though I knew that any new framework will involve a steep learning curve, I really did not have the guts to go through TWO learning curves – one for the language itself and one for the framework. I might still have been prepared to go through the learning curve though if it wasn’t for the fact that RoR requires special hosting.

So basically the decision was: Not RoR. And based on criterion 2, I decided to stick to a PHP framework, and not go for something else based on Perl or something else since I’ve been developing in PHP for the past two, almost three years. Having said this, it is all very well to say that CakePHP allows you to use your PHP skills – because it is an object oriented framework/MVC based framework it has its own rich language infrastructure. You still need to learn the CakePHP terminology and the learning curve is pretty steep!

3. Ability to run on PHP 4 Although PHP 5 offers more object oriented features, once again, not all shared hosts offer PHP 5 out of the box. I decided that I wanted to stick to a framework that will offer backwards compatibility and enable me to run on most of the servers that I, as well as my clients, host on.

My further criteria came down to:
4. Must have good documentation Under good documentation I count the following:

– User manual

– Examples and code snippets

– Screen casts and videos – although I do not see these as essential

5. Good support by the user community This, in combination with formal documentation is absolutely essential. All of these frameworks are pretty young and the documentation is also constantly evolving. Some documentation might be patchy in details. This is where the user support in terms of the community comes in. How active are the forums? Is there a bug tracker? Any other informal tutorials, write-ups, comments, blogs and other support?

6. Regular upgrades and bug fixes..but not so close to each other that the software becomes unstable and unusable. Backward compatibility is also important.

Version number of the software can be used to indicate maturity.

The following frameworks are quite popular (2007):

  • CakePHP
  • Seagull Framework
  • WACT – since ‘disqualified’ since the latest version now requires PHP 5
  • Zoop
  • CodeIgniter

The next step was a bit less scientific – but still fitted in with point 5 – how well is this Framework regarded? How much support does it generate in the ‘community’.

I scouted through forums and followed links and surfed the net and tried to get a general feel – and overall, CakePHP did seem to come out tops. A similar check that one can do is the following – do a Google search for each of the frameworks and see how many results are returned. This will give you a good idea of the general support, number of tutorials, number of forum posts and general ‘talked about’ factor for the specific framework. The results for this exercise can be seen here: http://www.tm4y.co.za/cakephp/ruby-on-rails-popularity-for-web-development.html

In summary therefore, the support for Ruby on Rails and the amount of information available for it is astounding and you will probably not go wrong if you decide to go this route. But if you want to stick with a PHP framework – CakePHP seems to be the route to go!

The Most Important Tool in Web Development is Knowledge

September 11th, 2018

There are plenty of online sites aimed at providing web design tutorials and web design software reviews. The busy web developer does not have the time to surf through each of these sites to find the information they are seeking. The best choice is a one stop shop for every bit of information the online designer needs.

What to Look For in an Information Portal

When searching through information portals for the most current and relevant information, you must first look at the last date of publishing. If the website has not published any new information in weeks or months, that information is not up to date. The art of design moves quickly thanks to the development of new technologies and the information portal needs to update just as quickly.

Another important factor is relevant content. If the website claims to offer tutorials but really only offers a general overview of a topic, that is not new information. The web designer needs web development tools and tutorials that are precise and detailed. The basics are something already learned, it’s the details that matter most.

The site also needs to follow current information for both the advanced and the beginner website designer. Just because a topic may seem too basic, that does not mean a refresher course is not in order.

Every website designer will have a different set of needs in regards to tools and tutorials. Finding all of those needs answered in on website is like finding a pot of gold at the end of the Internet rainbow.

Grow Your Online Business With The Best Web Development Company

September 10th, 2018

It was the summer of 2014 and Colin Slater had a lot to feel worried about. He was worried as his sports equipment business was not flourishing the way it should. He had already invested a lot of money in the business and the returns were fairly poor. He had lost all the hope and was about to shut the business till someone suggested him to take the business online. He gave the idea a thought and within a few weeks, he reached online in the hope of reviving a floundering business.

Cut to 2016, Colin is now a happy man as his business is now flourishing. In the last two years or so, he has trusted the online world and the results are here for all to see. He’s now a successful entrepreneur with a business which is growing by the day. He seems to have come very from those troubled days when it looked as if the business would collapse any moment. But thanks to the internet, he scripted a remarkable turnaround and now reaping the rewards.

Colin is just one of those thousands of entrepreneurs who have benefited a lot due to the digital world. All of them must have started their journey with getting a website designed and developed. They must have hired a development agency to get a capable web-based product to enter the prospect-laden world of internet. So, when they can do, why can’t you? If you wished, your business too would end its years of obscurity and get it fate transformed.

All you need to do is to hire an experienced development partner and let your needs mapped. You will need a well-built and feature-rich website to enter the digital space and start reaping rewards there. The agency will help promote your website across channels on the internet to help your reach to more users or customers. Your business will get a wider audience to cater, and you will reach to even those customers you could not till now.

In a sense, by hiring a development agency, you will boost the capabilities of your business and help it gain more rewards than possible earlier. The agency will select a right development product and platform, use manual coding and select a programing language to deliver you a feature-rich website. Your products or services will be listed in a way to let buyers find them with ease. Your online visibility will be boosted so that your business is seen more frequently to users.

It’s therefore necessary to trust only the best web development company to not let benefits slip away. Such a company will not only deliver projects of your choice but also help your business gain a lot of benefits from the internet. It will help build your brand and create brand awareness among users. So, you should hire with care to gain all those the internet has to offer.

In overall, your business should be careful in selecting a right partner as only this will help it go online and get a wider market to cater.