Designing Web Sites – The Rise of Development Frameworks

150px-Ruby_on_Rails.svgIn the beginnings of the Internet, all web pages were hand-coded and sites were small and simple. Gradually, WYSIWYG programs were developed like Microsoft’s Frontpage and Macromedia’s Dreamweaver which which was bought by Adobe after years of unsuccessfully trying to produce a competitor. Web design now, however, has become more complex and truly professional looking sites with dynamic and interactive abilities require graphic design skills, page layout coding skills and and programming skills.  As a result we have seen the rise of so-called “development frameworks.”  One such framework is Ruby on the Rails, an open-source system based on the Ruby programming language which requires knowledge of HTML and CSS as well as the Ruby programming language to use and an understanding of many of the aspects of web application architecture.  Many commercial systems have also been constructed, some with the additional designation “responsive” development framework to indicate that the framework is meant to make it easier to create applications that adjust to the broad range of devices people now use to connect to the Internet.  A distinction is also made between front-end and back-end systems with front end systems really only changing the cosmetic outer appearance of an application which can only be minimally modified in what it does and how it runs.  In some sense the simple drag and drop web design tools like Weebly can be seen as being very limited front end development environments as are the packages that have been developed to run with with a WordPress blog as the back end.  However, front-end development frameworks are limiting and in many cases are obviously shortcuits used by people with little web design skill, even if they attempt to pass themselves off differently. More complete frameworks like Gumby have more potential. However, people with little understanding of HTML, CSS, databases and computer programming are llikely to find it difficult to troubleshoot problems and those lacking even basic PhotoShop skills are likely to choose the highly-overused graphics that these frameworks provide. My recommendation – get a professional who can use a powerful development framework like Ruby On The Rails.

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