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What is the difference between frameworks and libraries?

As a developer, it's important to understand the difference between frameworks and libraries, as they both play a critical role in software development.

In simple terms, a library is a collection of pre-written code that can be used to perform specific tasks, such as handling database connections, parsing XML data, or creating user interfaces. Libraries are typically standalone components that can be integrated into an application as needed, and developers are responsible for managing how the library is used and called.

On the other hand, a framework is a more comprehensive set of tools and components that provide a complete structure for building an application. A framework typically includes multiple libraries and other pre-built components and often defines a specific approach or methodology for developing software. Frameworks are designed to streamline development and provide a standardized structure for creating complex applications.

So, which one is better? Well, it depends on your project's specific needs and requirements. Libraries are great for specific, isolated tasks, whereas frameworks are better suited for larger, more complex projects that require a more comprehensive approach.

What are your thoughts on the difference between frameworks and libraries? Do you have any other insights or experiences to share? Let us know in the comments below!

Acknowledgment: this was written with the help of but not by ChatGPT.

Top comments (4)

brense profile image
Rense Bakker

I prefer to follow the dictionary definition of a framework (I think it's important to let words have only one clearly defined meaning). In that case React and Angular are both frameworks, except Angular includes a library of additional tools. In React you have to chose the additional tools yourself, which gives you more freedom to make choices that benefit your particular project.

ant_f_dev profile image
Anthony Fung

I can see where you might be coming from: React is a library, Angular is a framework; which is better?

One answer to that specific question would be it depends. If you're building something small, React has less overhead and is less opinionated so that might be the way to go. If you're building something bigger, you might like the 'batteries included' approach of Angular and go with that, despite being more opinionated. Bear in mind it's by no means the only way to make the decision, and it's perfectly possible to build bigger apps in React.

However, the question doesn't make as much sense in scenarios where an Angular (framework) app might use jQuery or Lodash (both libraries) within its code.

C# apps run on the .NET framework, but you might import some libraries to use, e.g. Newtonsoft.Json, or RestSharp

ugbabeog profile image

Exactly the answer

_seanbecker profile image
Sean Becker • Edited

I like the concept of this article but I'm not sure I would agree that it makes sense to debate "which is better" in this case. There are some similarities between frameworks and libraries, but they have totally different use-cases and aren't all that comparable.

I could see how a beginner might ask "When should I use a framework? And when should I use a library?"

I would probably answer that it depends on what you are building. In most enterprise application development, we use runtimes, frameworks, and libraries (third party and internal) to avoid reinventing the wheel. For scripting, it is likely to use a runtime (e.g., Node.js) and a few libraries, but not as common to use a framework.

It might be helpful to add runtime to the mix here, and maybe even discuss some examples such as Node.js and Python (which is both a runtime and a language).