If you are a Java web developer, then you are already aware of the sheer amount of Java Web Frameworks that are out there. That is why we’ve made this list for you. These are the ten best Java Web Frameworks, Frameworks that will last a long time, and support you in whatever you need to do regarding Java web development.
Before we get into the list, let’s clarify what a “Web Framework” actually is. A Web Framework is a program that allows you to develop web applications. The framework aspect denotes a system or structure that you can modify to easily develop new applications for a specific piece of software.
It simplifies the whole “building” process, so instead of having to make a number of lengthy and complex alterations to the entire software, you can simply use the framework to make specific changes, without having to rewrite all of the code.
Many different Java hosts don’t actually support all of the frameworks we’re about to share with you. That is why we’ve developed a Java hosting service which supports all of the frameworks we’re about to share, and allows you to easily change, alter and develop whatever Java software you wish to work on.
If you want to learn more about our history and what we’re all about, check out this HostAdvice interview with John Larsen.
But let’s get back to what you’re here for (in no particular order) …
1. JSF – JavaServer Faces
JavaServer Faces is supported by Oracle, and as such, it comes with some very in-depth, complex documentation. When reading this information, you’ll notice that you can use this framework for whatever you wish to create in the Java programming language.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the easiest framework to use, nor is it the speediest. However, the big benefit of JavaServer Faces is the wonderful documentation that Oracle has created. Oracle has lead the industry for many years, so they are quite reliable and trustworthy.
This plays an important part in the Java EE – Enterprise Edition of Java – and if you use the IDE software – Integrated Development Environment – it is incredibly convenient as it is built into those environments.
However, should have a very rudimentary understanding of Java with little software experience, be it with this particular software or with programming as a whole, then this will simply be too complex for you due to the intricacy of the framework.
- Supported By Oracle
- Comes With Fantastic Documentation
- Excellent Tools
- Rich Libraries
- Convenient If You Use IDE’s
- Slightly Complex
- Need Prior Experience
- Slow For Development
Struts is a free, open-source framework that is used to create elegant, aesthetically pleasing Java applications. It is used to develop the foundation of a web application, and it functions on a pattern known as “MVC,” which means Model-View-Controller. In terms of support, there is quite a bit of it, but it’s less “industry-standard” than, for example, JavaServer Faces due to being open source and not having the support of one of the software industry’s leaders.
Unfortunately, Struts is a fairly multifaceted framework and it does take a while to get the hang of it. That being said, it makes for fast development and testing due to being able to immediately implement new segments of code and new elements that you can easily add.
However, if you use Struts, you’ll find that the framework isn’t very flexible and using it means that you need to become accustomed with a set of rules regarding the coding and designing of web applications. This is a big turn-off for most people simply because they have already become accustomed to a specific methodology, and Struts wants you to use their own set of rules.
- Free And Open-Source
- Fast Development
- Easy To Test New Code
- Many Rules
- Complex Framework
- Not Very Flexible
Hibernate is not a Web Framework, but an ORM framework known for being a high-quality and powerful option to deal with database access. As for the specifics of the framework, Hibernate is a device for object-relational mapping, which, in Computer Science, is a means of converting data between two systems that are incompatible, and getting them to work with each other through object-oriented programming languages. In this case, of course, the programming language in question is Java.
So, because of this, you can use Hibernate to communicate with any database that you have, utilizing only a slight change or two with the overall code of your web application. This is incredibly convenient and useful if you tend to work with multiple databases that are otherwise incompatible or difficult to use.
One of the biggest benefits that Hibernate offers, besides speed and being able to work with multiple databases, is the fact that it is very easy to scale whatever software you are writing to bigger and smaller architectures and numbers of users. If you are designing a very specific piece of software that is only going to be used by ten or twenty people, then Hibernate is perfect for you, just as it is ideal if you’re developing a piece of software that is going to be used by hundreds of thousands of people.
Beyond that, Hibernate is easily configurable, modifiable, and you can do just about anything with it. Unfortunately, one of the biggest flaws with Hibernate is that restarting the ORM framework and getting back to where you were can be very slow, and if the power goes off on your computer, you could easily lose all of your data.
- Very Powerful
- Easy To Convert Data For Multiple Databases
- Easy To Scale
- Easy To Configure And Modify
- Slow To Restart
- Easy To Lose All Of Your Data
4. GWT – Google Web Toolkit
Google Web Toolkit comes directly from your favorite search engine, Google! It is an open source tool that enables you to easily develop and modify front-end Java applications, regardless of how complex these applications are.
One of the great things about Google Web Toolkit is the fact that it is developed by Google, and as such, it has a lot of support, a lot of great documentation, and the whole thing feels professional well-developed and thorough in its execution.
It is simple to learn, and you can use it to develop those front-end applications that you need, as well as to create these incredibly responsive web applications that balance the load on both the server-side and client-side systems. Along with this, there is the fact that Google Web Toolkit allows you to effortlessly integrate that multifunctionality.
One of the biggest problems with Google Web Toolkit is the fact that there are so many new versions being created, and each one is different in a number of ways. Some versions have specific interfaces and tools that you might find essential, whereas the more stable versions of Google Web Toolkit may be lacking these tools, but they happen to work a lot better. The other problem is that compiling software in the Google Web Toolkit is rather slow, and this can be a big annoyance for many people.
- Easy To Use
- Develops Very Responsive Applications
- Balances The Load On Server And Client-Side Systems
- Excellent Documentation
- New Versions Are Constantly Being Created
- Compiling Is A Slow Process
The Vaadin framework is open-source and licensed by the Apache Software Foundation, a nonprofit that has been instrumental in the creation and sustenance of tools for programming languages such as Java and C++. As such, this is a very useful, powerful framework that you can use, and there is an incredibly active worldwide community that you can turn to for guidance.
- Many Different Plug-Ins
- Supported By Apache
- Good Documentation
- Lots Of Support On The Forums
- Uses Server-Side Programming
- Enables You To Create Rich And Interactive Web Interfaces
- You Can Use Google Web Tools And Ajax
- Easy For Code To Become Overly Lengthy And Complex
Wicket – also known as “Apache Wicket” due to heavy support from the Apache Software Foundation – is a lightweight Web Framework built for designing simple, but elegant web applications in a component-based language that is very useful and responsive. It’s open-source, server-side, and all of the code in this Web Framework is scripted in Java, which makes things significantly easier when it comes to doing all of the scripting and alterations that you may need to make.
You can easily integrate it with HTML, which allows for elegant and simple HTML pages that lack an excess of complexity, making this a perfect framework for Web Designers. Wicket also contains an enormous amount of power and convenience when it comes to testing the applications that you are building. Not only that, but instead of having to open a browser and test the page as a whole, you can use Wicket to test specific components that you are building!
The only flaw with Wicket is that, while there are many perks and conveniences, the development process can be confusing due to the complexity of the Web Framework. But if you’re okay with that, then Wicket is one of the best out there!
- Supports Java And HTML
- Easy To Maintain Code
- Easy To Test Specific Components Of Your Code
- Makes Elegant And Simple Pages And Applications
- Lots Of Support And Documentation
- Convoluted Development Process
- Takes A While To Fully Learn The Framework
One of the nice things about Vert.X is that it is a library and not a container, which means that you can apply other tools and components from other libraries that you prefer or need for whatever web application you are trying to create.
One of the great things about Vert.X – aside from its flexibility and functionality – is the fact that you can easily set it up and use the components and libraries that you want. This isn’t a difficult process, and due to the flexibility of the framework, there is quite a bit that you can easily do.
It runs on the JVM – Java Virtual Machine – and it enables you to test your code and scale it with immediate ease. This is something to take note of, especially if you also need a variety of components that most other frameworks don’t seem to offer or have a hard time doing.
As for the downsides of this particular Web Framework, it can be difficult to scale when it comes to going from one specific piece of limited hardware to a much larger one, say, a server farm. But, scalability is also one of the strengths of Vert.X, provided the scaling isn’t too large, or else it will take a fair amount of work.
- Really Easy To Set Up
- Supports Many Languages
- Highly Modular – Use What You Like, Discard The Rest
- You Can Use Any Library You Want
- Difficult To Scale Onto Larger Systems
8. Spring MVC – Model View Controller
Spring MVC is one of the oldest Java Web Frameworks, but it’s also one of the best. To this day, it is used, and this is because it is constantly adapting and improving upon specific changes and developments with Java.
For software engineers of any kind, it offers a truly amazing toolkit for developing web applications and configuring these applications, as well as developing the security features that go with them. It is truly a broad and expansive Web Framework that is more than capable of taking on any potential task or project you wish to work on.
Due to the modularity of the tools themselves, this enables you to write code that is very clean and accessible. There is an enormous amount of excellent documentation, and a thriving community that will help you if you have any questions or concerns regarding how to do certain things or how certain things work or anything of that sort.
The biggest downside – and the only real downside – is the fact that this is a complex Web Framework and if you are new to Java Web Development, then this probably isn’t the best choice simply because it requires a lot of knowledge beforehand, and this makes the learning curve pretty steep.
- Excellent Documentation
- Extremely Helpful Community
- Broad And Expansive Toolkit For Any Project You Might Have
- Enables You To Write Clean And Accessible Code
- Steep Learning Curve
- Requires Quite A Bit Of Pre-Existing Knowledge Before Using
Play is a very simple and easy to use Web Framework. The general idea behind Play is to allow you to make changes as swiftly and as easily as possible, with minimal effort on your part.
This is done through a seamless and very easy to use UI, along with a number of features made for utilizing the desired amount of resources on your computer – CPU, RAM – that enable you to easily scale the software that you are writing. It was designed for developers who are working on the development of modern web and mobile applications. Applications that rely on a certain level of simplicity and ease of use.
Play is built on the Akka toolkit, which is a very popular open-source toolkit that runs on the Java Virtual Machine, and it comes equipped with the same basic features and tools, but executed in a far more user-friendly manner that enables you to easily write, design, and test the applications that you are developing, all while maintaining a productive and cohesive workflow. Many developers swear by it, and insist that it has actually improved their productivity by a significant amount, due to the simplicity and the ease of use.
If there is a downside, it’s that this current version of Play is actually Play 2. There are very little differences between the two, and there haven’t been many improvements made over the course of that particular development cycle. Right now, Play doesn’t really need any specific improvements, but time will tell as to whether or not Play is going to still be one of the best Web Frameworks next year.
- Improves Your Productivity Greatly
- Easy Workflow
- Flexible Tools
- Everything Works Well When You Start It
- Excellent Resource Management
- Easy To Scale Software
- Few Improvements Have Been Made Over The Years
Grails is a very dynamic Web Framework that enables you to immediately start writing the code for your web application, whatever it may be. It’s used within the Java Virtual Machine, and it comes equipped with a variety of powerful tools such as asynchronous programming, Compile-time metaprogramming, along with run-time and domain-specific languages that you can use.
One of the best things about the Grails Web Framework is the fact that it works for any size project, and there are so many supported plugins that allow for that project to be executed smoothly and rapidly, and you can test your developments and modifications out just as easily.
If you follow the documentation, then the setup will be super simple, and they will walk you through developing your first app, and that should only take an hour or two, which makes Grails one of the easiest and most thoroughly developed Web Frameworks. It also supports a variety of IDEs, such as Eclipse and Textmate, two very popular options in the world of Java development.
Really, the only flaw with Grails is the fact that you are forced to use runtime language – the virtual machine of Microsoft’s “.NET” framework – to use the Grails Web Framework.
- Easy To Set Up
- Over 900 Plugins
- Excellent Documentation
- Easy To Use
- Works For Any Size Of Project
- Forced To Use Runtime Language
Which One Do I Choose?
Each Web Framework that we have listed contains its own pros and cons, as we have listed. One thing to take into consideration is the nature of your web application project, how many people are working on it, and the exact purpose of it. Depending on the scale of your application, you might go for something like Hibernate or Grails.
That, and take into consideration your own level of experience with Java and your own understanding of other Web Frameworks. If you are new to all of this, then Google Web Frameworks may be the way to go. It all depends on a number of factors, but regardless of that, we at JavaPipe support you, and we can host every single one of these Web Frameworks.
To choose, simply consider the nature of your application, the scale of the application, and your experience with using Web Frameworks and writing web applications in Java. Then, choose which one works best for you!