Java Frameworks: A Comprehensive Guide

Java Frameworks: A Comprehensive Guide
10 minutes
March 29, 2021

Although Java is one of the oldest programming languages, it is still one of the most powerful and commonly used programming languages today. Integrating a java framework to your stack, allows you to lessen development time with pre-written methods, callbacks, listeners, or pattern implementations.

What is a Java Framework?

A framework is a collection of libraries. A Java Framework can dictate what you're trying to build and how you plan on building it. Certain Java Frameworks allow for increased security, community support, and efficiency while decreasing expenses. This comprehensive guide will break down various frameworks based on different categories and use cases.

Let’s look at the most popular open source Java Frameworks used today:

image of spring framework trends
December 2020

Spring Framework Github:

  • Starred: 40.2k
  • Forked: 27.7k
  • Pull Requests: 247

Spring Boot Github:

  • Starred: 51.7k
  • Forked: 32k
  • Pull Requests: 21

Advantages of Spring: Lightweight framework that supports backwards compatibility.

Disadvantages of Spring: Once you start a project using Spring, the project then has the tendency to be dependent on the framework.

Spring can be used for a variety of different programming applications across different layers of the application. Spring adopts a Plain Old Java Object (POJO) programming model and has a variety of different modules that can be used such as Spring Boot, Spring Core, Spring Security, and Spring OBM. An attractive advantage is that Spring is a lightweight framework that supports backward compatibility.

image of hibernate framework trends
December 2020

Trends code for Hibernate Framework:

Hibernate Github:

  • Starred: 4.4k
  • Forked: 2.9k
  • Pull Requests: 213

Advantages of Hibernate: Open source, good for portability and productivity

Disadvantages of Hibernate: Slower performance compared to other options

Hibernate is an object-relationship management (ORM) framework. It's primarily used for relational database management and can execute SQL queries. Hibernate can be used to help you overcome Object-Relational Impedance Mismatch problems. It is an open-source project that is perfect for Object-Oriented Projects that require high portability and productivity. However, the performance is slower due to the fact that it generates a lot of SQL statements at runtime.


image of hipster frameworks trends
December 2020

Trend for ‘JHipster’:

JHipster Github:

  • Starred: 17.6k
  • Forked: 3.5k
  • Pull Requests: 25

Advantages of JHipster: Full stack tool that facilitates code generation and also integrates very well with Spring Boot

Disadvantages of JHipster: May not be the best option for complex web applications

Java Hipster (JHipster) is used to quickly develop web applications and microservices using Angular and React and Spring. With JHipster you can generate full-stack applications and microservices, generate CRUD methods directly, and can provide SQL and NoSQL support. JHipster has the advantage of being a full-stack tool and is easy to generate code.

Java Frameworks with UI Components

JavaServer Faces

image of java frameworks trends
December 2020

Trends for JavaServer Faces:

JavaServer Faces Github:

  • Starred: 17.6k
  • Forked: 3.5k
  • Pull Requests: 25

JSF Advantages: A lot of support for developers

JSF Disadvantages: A higher learning curve than most frameworks

JavaServer Faces (JSF) helps build user interfaces for Java Web Applications. This framework comes with a component-based MVC environment that can be helpful for back-end developers who need to create a user interface without little code. JSF is a big chunk of what makes up J2EE so it's here to stay and very well supported.

Google Web Toolkit

image of Google web toolkit trends
December 2020

Trend for Google Web Toolkit:

GWT Github:

  • Starred: 1.2k
  • Forked: 299

Advantage of GWT: Supported by library of Google APIs

Disadvantages of GWT: A lot of boiler plate code that takes a long time to compile. UI tests tend to run slow

The Google Web Toolkit (GWT) contains both Google APIs and Widgets that compile to JavaScript and also provides the ability to create your own custom widgets that meet your needs. Using GWT makes it easy to implement the vast library of Google APIs.

Java Frameworks used in Mobile Applications

image of vaadin trends
December 2020

Trend for Vaadin:

Vaadin Github:

  • Starred: 1.6k
  • Forked: 727
  • Pull Requests: 20

Advantages of Vaadin: Equipped with responsive CSS interfaces

Disadvantages of Vaadin: Poor scalability

Vaadin has a strong focus on UX accessibility. Using Vaadin gives you direct access between the DOM and the JVM with built-in UI components that can be called like regular java functions. Vaadin can help you create native mobile applications and can be extremely useful for data visualizations. Vaadin has the advantage of being equipped with responsive CSS interfaces.

image of play trends
December 2020

Play Github:

  • Starred: 11.7k
  • Forked: 3.9k
  • Pull Requests: 52

Advantages: Developer Friendly

Disadvantages: High learning curve

Play framework makes web development and mobile development easy. It is RESTful by default and has a variety of cloud deployment options that allow for teams to be spread across different parts of the world. It doesn't rely on Java EE standards which makes it easy to develop web-friendly Java and Scala applications that demand content creation capabilities. Play is good for working on long term projects but has a very steep learning curve upon initial usage.

image of ktor trends
December 2020

Ktor Github:

  • Starred: 7.5k
  • Forked: 625
  • Pull Requests: 62

Advantages of Ktor: Lightweight and asynchronous

Disadvantages of Ktor: Is a Kotlin framework, so it cannot fully replace Java

Ktor is a framework for building asynchronous servers and clients using Kotlin. Ktor helps with building standalone applications with embedded servers. It's lightweight which allows you to configure where you need it and its asynchronous behavior allows you to scale as you see fit. Ktor has the capability to compile with existing Java code, however, it doesn't fully replace the power and capabilities of Java.

Polyglot Frameworks

Here are some frameworks that are used across different programming languages on the JVM (Java Virtual Machine):

image of vertx trends
December 2020

Vert.X Github:

  • Starred: 11.5k
  • Forked: 1.7k
  • Pull Requests: 66

Vert.x allows you to build reactive, or components that consume different events, programming. It runs on a single-threaded simple concurrency model. You can use Vert.x in Java, JavaScript, Groovy, Ruby, Python, Scala, Clojure and Ceylon.


image of blade trends
December 2020

Blade Github:

  • Starred: 5.4k
  • Forked: 1.1k
  • Pull requests: 5

Blade is a lightweight MVC framework that allows for simplicity. It is self-contained and supports a RESTful style routing interface.

image of micronaut trends
December 2020

Micronaut Github:

  • Starred: 4.3k
  • Forked: 720
  • Pull Requests: 26

Micronaut is a full stack framework that aids in building microservices and serviceless applications. You can use it using Java, Kotlin, or Groovy.

image of jooby trends
December 2020

Jooby Github:

  • Starred: 1.3k
  • Forked: 162
  • Pull Requests: 5

Jooby can be used in both Java and Kotlin.

Outdated Java Frameworks

Here are some older frameworks that are no longer being maintained:

  • Struts
  • Swing
  • Java Web Start
  • Java Card API

To learn more or get help choosing a framework that meets your needs, contact our cloud experts.


Ademusoyo Awosika-Olumo

Ademusoyo Awosika-Olumo is a Nigerian American software engineer, digital consultant and content creator based in the New York City Area. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, writing, running, and doing yoga.

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