Framework vs platform – what is the difference?

Marlena Walburg

For the last few years, blockchain has been a buzzword in the world of finance. But is it only that? Apart Sometimes there is a bit of turmoil when it comes to software-related or IT-related technical terminology. Especially as the terms are often fluently used interchangeably or colloquially, this is the case with framework and platform. While the former might be ambiguous or unclear to people outside the IT world, the platform is very freely used. As a result, we hurry to explain what they are and how the framework and platform differ.

What does the technology framework mean?

The term framework is sometimes confused with a programming language or just a platform that we will discuss later. So what exactly is a framework? It’s a kind of skeleton for building applications. It defines the structure of the application and the general mechanism and provides a set of general-purpose components and libraries to perform specific tasks. It provides a standard way to build and deploy applications. It is a universal reusable software environment that provides particular functionality to a larger software platform to facilitate applications development, products, and solutions. Frameworks can contain many elements, such as code libraries, helper programs, compilers, application programming interfaces (APIs) that connect different components to enable a project or a system development. 

Standard features of the framework are:

  • inversion of control – control flow is imposed by the framework, not by the user, unlike applications and libraries;
  • extensibility – individual components of the framework should be extensible by the developer if he wants to expand them with the necessary additional functions;
  • default behaviour – the default framework configuration must be helpful and produce a meaningful result, instead of being a set of empty operations to overwrite;
  • closed internal structure – the developer can extend the framework, but not by modifying the default code.

What are the types of frameworks?

There is no single, unambiguous division of frameworks into types. Generally, frameworks are designed to solve specific problems or be used in selected areas, such as web development. However, here are some types of frameworks:

  • Mobile Application Framework – used to implement the standard software structure of mobile applications developed for platforms such as iOS or Android. Cross-platform frameworks such as React Native and Flutter are prevalent among mobile frameworks. Developers typically use object-oriented programming techniques to implement frameworks whereby unique application parts can simply inherit from classes existing in the framework.
  • Web Application Framework – designed to support web application development, including web services and web APIs. They provide a standard way of creating and deploying a web application. In addition, web frameworks are designed to automate the overhead associated with common web development activities. Popular web frameworks are Laravel, Ruby on Rails and Django.
  • Test Automation Framework – provides a runtime environment for automation test scripts. It helps testers or QA specialists to develop, execute and report automation tests efficiently. It is also divided into many subtypes, which are a large collection of frameworks.
  • Enterprise Application Framework – it defines how enterprise architecture is created and used. The framework structures architects’ thinking by breaking down the architecture description into domains, layers, or views and offers models – usually matrices and diagrams – to document each view. It is an extensive set of frameworks covering almost every need of businesses and enterprises.

What is the purpose of frameworks?

The framework aims to provide guiding principles and critical structural elements to give an adequate degree of protection and resilience to infrastructure. They promote good software development practices and offer mechanisms to ensure high quality. In addition, it is primarily a tool that facilitates the work of the development team, in particular programmers. They are not an essential tool, but in many cases, they help increase efficiency, limit the amount of code and thus, possible bugs and speed up development. Frameworks direct the app development and increase the confidence that the app will be easily updated, maintainable and, above all, compatible with the desired platform. 

What is a platform in software development?

You may know the terms mobile platform, iOS platform, and so on. It is a good lead. The platform is the environment in which the software is executed (for which it is developed). It can be hardware or operating system (OS), which we most often equate the platform with. It can also be a web browser and related application programming interfaces, or other essential software, as long as the program code is executed with it. Different platforms have different requirements, interfaces and characteristics. Therefore not all code may work on all platforms. Hence, it is vital to match the programming language or framework to the selected platform. 

What is the difference between framework and platform?

Essentially, these are different means in the world of software development. The framework can be used as a tool to build an application that will run on selected or multiple platforms. The platform is the application execution environment.  

What is the difference between IDE and framework?

An IDE (Integrated Development Environment) is a program or set of programs that provides comprehensive tools for creating, modifying, testing, and maintaining software. An IDE usually consists of at least a source code editor, build automation tools, and a debugger. Many modern IDEs also have a class browser, an object browser, and a class hierarchy diagram for object-oriented development; hence the boundary between the IDE and other parts of the wider development environment is not well defined.  

Consequently, the IDE is the developer’s software to create the code and all related tasks. It has a code editor, debugger – all the tools you need. The framework collects libraries, best practices, guidelines, and any general-purpose components that a developer can use to build an application. Therefore, the code based on the framework will be created in the IDE. Framework components are often ready-made, reusable pieces of code that can be integrated into your own project.

What is the difference between framework and API?

An API (Application Programming Interface) is a set of rules that closely describes how programs or routines communicate with each other. It is defined at the source code level for software components, like applications, libraries, operating systems. An API aims to provide the appropriate specifications for subroutines, data structures, object classes, and the required communication protocols. It is mainly a guideline specification on how the interaction between software components should proceed. API implementation is a set of routines, protocols and IT solutions for building computer applications. Additionally, the API can use graphical user interface components. A good API makes it easier to build software, reducing it to the programmer combining blocks of elements in a set convention.

API and framework can be related to each other. For example, a framework may be based on several libraries implementing several APIs. Still, unlike regular API use, access to a behaviour built into the framework is mediated by extending its content with new classes connected to the framework itself. Furthermore, the overall flow of program control may be beyond the caller’s control and in the hands of the framework by a reversal of control mechanism or the like.

What is a framework example?

The choice of frameworks is enormous. They serve so many problems or challenges in software development that their number is not surprising. We present some of the most famous frameworks for various purposes. 

Ruby on Rails

RoR is an open-source framework for the rapid development of web applications. It was written in Ruby using the MVC (Model-View-Controller) architecture. It is characterised by the speed, ease and pleasure of writing code. RoR is based on DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) rules, which consists of avoiding repeating the same work in different places and Convention Over Configuration – reducing the necessary configuration to a minimum by replacing it with ready-made default, recommended patterns. In addition, Ruby on Rails allows you to use plugins that extend applications with various functions, such as logging, uploading and scaling images, etc.


It is a framework for web applications written in PHP, also based on the Model-View-Controller pattern. Laravel’s features include various ways of accessing relational databases, a modular packaging system with a dedicated dependency manager, tools that help implement and maintain the application, and its orientation towards syntactic sugar.

React Native 

It is an open-source framework developed by Facebook, used to create cross-platform mobile applications. React Native allows developers to use the React framework along with the native capabilities of the platform. It was released in 2015, initially only for Facebook, but quickly became widely available and gained immense popularity.


React Native’s biggest competitor, Flutter, is a UI development kit developed by Google. It is used to create cross-platform applications for Android, iOS, Linux, Windows and other platforms using a single code base. It is written in the Dart language.

Future of software development

It is bright, for sure. Many current trends will continue in coming years, like AI development, Deep and Machine Learning, Blockchain adoption. Also, notice that we are at the beginning of quantum computing implementation, which will be a big thing soon. Quantum computers expand the possibilities of typical computing we now know and use daily. Even new programming languages are already being invented to help program the quantum computer, and many more are sure to follow.

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