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Seven Web Frameworks in Seven Weeks: Adventures in Better Web Apps


Cover image for Seven Web Frameworks in Seven Weeks

Seven Web Frameworks in Seven Weeks

Adventures in Better Web Apps


Whether you need a new tool or just inspiration, Seven Web Frameworks in Seven Weeks explores modern options, giving you a taste of each with ideas that will help you create better apps. You’ll see frameworks that leverage modern programming languages, employ unique architectures, live client-side instead of server-side, or embrace type systems. You’ll see everything from familiar Ruby and JavaScript to the more exotic Erlang, Haskell, and Clojure.

Just as each new spoken language can make you smarter and increase your options, each programming language increases your mental tool kit, adding new abstractions you can throw at each new problem. Knowledge is power. The Seven in Seven series builds on that power across many different dimensions. Each chapter in each book walks you through some nontrivial problem with each language, or database, or web server. These books take commitment to read, but their impact can be profound.

Customer Reviews

The title implies a breadth-first analysis of some fairly disparate technologies, but
there is a surprising amount of depth here, more than enough to emphasize the
essential qualities of each one. If you’re a polyglot, or aspire to be, this book is a
very large ball of awesome.

- Jim Crossley

Immutant core team member; principal software engineer, Red Hat

Objective and clear. More than an introduction, it’s a head start! Just as wide
and as deep as any modern developer would like. I definitely recommend it.

- Pablo Aguiar

Software engineering consultant

This book is great fun. The authors guide you quickly through each framework,
in each case giving you a fast but clear, coherent, and surprisingly detailed taste
that includes major features, design philosophy, implementation, and testing,
plus hints for further investigation. Two JavaScript frameworks, one Ruby, one
Haskell, two Clojure, and one Erlang. If you like web programming, you’re going
to enjoy this book.

- Giles Bowkett

Experienced developer and well-known blogger

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. In fact, the Yesod chapter even gave me
fresh ideas on how to expose non-Haskellers to the strengths of a strong type

- Michael Snoyman

Creator of Yesod; lead software engineer, FP Complete

See All Reviews

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About this Title

Pages: 302
Published: 2014-01-15
Release: P1.0 (2014-01-14)
ISBN: 978-1-93778-563-5

The rapid evolution of web apps demands innovative solutions: this survey of frameworks and their unique perspectives will inspire you and get you thinking in new ways to meet the challenges you face daily.

This book covers seven web frameworks that are influencing modern web applications and changing web development: Sinatra, CanJS, AngularJS, Ring, Webmachine, Yesod, Immutant. Each of these web frameworks brings unique and powerful ideas to bear on building apps.

Embrace the simplicity of Sinatra, which sheds the trappings of large frameworks and gets back to basics with Ruby. Live in the client with CanJS, and create apps with JavaScript in the browser. Be declarative with AngularJS; say what you want, not how to do it, with a mixture of declarative HTML and JavaScript. Turn the web into data with Ring, and use Clojure to make data your puppet. Become a master of advanced HTTP with Webmachine, and focus the power of Erlang. Prove web theorems with Yesod; see how Haskell’s advanced type system isn’t just for academics. Develop in luxury with Immutant, an enlightened take on the enterprise framework.

Seven Web Frameworks will influence your work, no matter which framework you currently use.

Welcome to a wider web.

Q & A with authors Jack Moffitt and Fred Daoud

Why did you decide to write this book?

Jack: There are countless ways to solve problems, and programmers everywhere are discovering new techniques and building new languages in an effort to find better solutions. There are so many diverse ideas in all areas of programming, and having stumbled upon a few really eye opening ones over the years, I’ve wanted to share them with others.

There’s no one way to build a web app, and no two projects of mine have ever been built the same way. Web programming is unique in having hundreds of available frameworks and libraries; traditional GUI programming tends to have very few choices. With so many possibilities—none of them perfect—I wanted to expose the most interesting ideas and techniques I’ve found to a wider audience.

Fred: Programming in general and web development in particular evolves at a fantastic pace. I felt that this book was an excellent opportunity to break out of the mainstream and explore new ideas and discover different approaches to web development.

The goal with these frameworks is not to compare them which each other and pick which one to use for your next project. Rather, this book serves as a neatly organized exploration of frameworks that offer unique solutions to web development.

Why did you pick these seven frameworks?

Jack: Our goal was to pick frameworks that had unique and powerful ideas rather than just ones that were enjoying their moment in the spotlight. We explore minimalism, composition, static typing, state machines, declarative syntax, and more in the book.

In some cases, the frameworks we chose originated the ideas we wanted to explore, and in others, the framework is just the clearest example. We also tried to pick a set of frameworks that didn’t overlap much to make sure we covered as many ideas as possible.

Fred: After suffering through bloated and overly complex so-called “enterprise” frameworks, it felt refreshing to explore frameworks that let you get started with very little code and just “use what you need.”

We also wanted to include client-side frameworks, because JavaScript on the client is no longer a hodgepodge of code snippets. These frameworks really give us an opportunity to write modular and cleanly-organized code.

What other frameworks did you wish you could have included?

Jack: I think the Play framework would have made a very nice contrast to Yesod, as it also leverages static typing with Scala and has a lot of features. I also wanted to sneak an Elixir-based framework in, but none were quite ready enough at the time since Elixir itself is still changing.

In another universe, we might have done the whole book on front-end frameworks, which are bringing a large number of interesting ideas of their own. There are some excellent and unique ClojureScript frameworks popping up, such as Webfui and Om, and on the other end of the spectrum, Meteor and Derby are doing interesting things for real-time and collaborative apps.

Fred: Node.js would have been an interesting server-side framework to include, but we really wanted to include some client-side frameworks. Certainly, we could have written the book using only JavaScript frameworks, but that was not our goal.

Have any interesting new frameworks appeared since you started writing the book?

Jack: My feed reader is full of saved articles about new frameworks, and more keep appearing every day. A few that I’m planning on exploring soon are Revel, which is written in Go, and Om, which is a ClojureScript framework built on top of core.async. Even though Elixir is a young language, web frameworks are pouring out, like Sugar and Dynamo, and I’ll be giving those a spin as well.

Fred: New frameworks keep appearing and it is hard to keep up! Two frameworks I would have liked to explore are total.js, and Pedestal, since Clojure is one of my favorite programming languages.

What You Need

You’ll need Windows, MacOS X or Linux, along with your favorite web browser. Each chapter will cover what you need to download and which language versions are required.

Contents & Extracts

  • Preface
  • Sinatra
    • A Simple Domain-Specific Language
    • Day 1: Building a Bookmarking Application
    • Day 2: Creating Views
    • Day 3: Adding Features
    • Wrapping Up
  • CanJS
    • What Makes CanJS Unique?
    • Day 1: Building Objects and Synchronizing Changes excerpt
    • Day 2: Creating Controllers
    • Day 3: Working with Models
    • Wrapping Up
  • AngularJS
    • The Big Picture
    • Day 1: Using Dependency Injection
    • Day 2: Creating Controllers and Views
    • Day 3: Building Filters and Routes
    • Wrapping Up
  • Ring
    • Introducing Ring
    • Day 1: Basic Towers
    • Day 2: Patterns of Bricks
    • Day 3: Other Ways to Build excerpt
    • Wrapping Up
  • Webmachine
    • Introducing Webmachine
    • Day 1: HTTP Request as State Machine
    • Day 2: Building Apps excerpt
    • Day 3: Illuminating HTTP’s Dark Corners
    • Wrapping Up
  • Yesod
  • Immutant
  • Wrap-Up


Jack Moffitt has spent a decade building things for the Web in a variety of languages and frameworks. He is a senior research engineer at Mozilla Research and works on the Servo project building an experimental new browser engine. He also helped create Ogg Vorbis and founded the Foundation, a non-profit which works on open, royalty free multimedia codecs.

Fred Daoud is a truly passionate web developer who loves trying out new frameworks. He is the author of two other web framework books: Stripes …and Java Web Development Is Fun Again and Getting Started With Apache Click. As a software engineer for Modernizing Medicine, he develops with Stripes, jQuery, YUI, and CanJS.