Front-End Development Frameworks
June 20, 2014

Author: Zain Mehmood

As the Web matures and the range of mobile devices we use to access it rapidly grows, our jobs as web designers and developers get considerably more complicated.

A decade ago things were much simpler. Then, it was almost certain that most of our users were visiting our sites while sitting at their desk, looking at a large monitor. A width of 960 pixels was more or less considered standard for a web page. Our main care was dealing with the handful of desktop browsers and ensuring support of quirky older versions of Internet Explorer. But now, with the boom of handheld electronic devices in the last five to six years, everything has changed. We’ve seen the introduction of smartphones, tablets, eReaders, browsers on Smart TVs—and the diversity is only going to increase each day.

Soon, more people will access the Web on their mobile and alternate devices than on a desktop computer, and the switch is already happening. This has caused the mobile world to become the web designer’s most important space: the technologies and tools we use to enhance the tablet experience improve constantly.

One of the primary strategies we use when we deal with unknown viewport size is known as responsive web design. It’s a mechanism for providing custom layouts to devices based on the size of the browser window. Most browsers on small devices such as smartphones and tablets automatically shrink a web page down to fit the screen and provide ways for zooming and moving around the page. Technically, it works. But it is an inferior experience: the text is too small to read, the links too small to tap, and the user must constantly zoom and pan.

In responsive web design, the technique is to serve a single HTML document to all devices by applying different style sheets based on the screen size. The hope is to provide the most optimized layout for that device. For example, when the page is viewed on a large desktop browser, the content can be placed into multiple columns with normal navigation elements. But when that same page is viewed on a small smartphone screen, it appears in one column with large links for easy access. You can see just how responsive web design works at the Media Queries gallery site. Just open a design in your browser and then resize the window very narrow and very wide, and watch as the layout changes based on the window size.

This is where front-end development frameworks come into play. While responsive web design is not hard to implement, it can be tricky to make it work on all targeted devices. Frameworks make this job easier. They allow you to create responsive, standard-compliant websites with minimum effort while at the same time keeping everything simple and consistent. Frameworks give you a lot of benefits such as speed and simplicity, consistency across different devices, and much more. One of the most important advantages is that they are so easy to use that even a person with minimal knowledge can utilize them without any problem.

A front-end web development framework is simply a collection of production ready HTML/CSS/JavaScript components that we can use in our designs. There are many frameworks out there, but some of them stand out from the crowd. For your facilitation below you will find outlined some of the most powerful and popular frameworks available today. Bear in mind that these are not just CSS grids but full-featured front-end development frameworks.

At IPAL, we have developed our main website using one of the best Frontend Frameworks, Bootstrap 3.

List of Superior Frontend Frameworks