Library & Framework


从JQuery官网,JQuery是 library。

Query is a fast, small, and feature-rich JavaScript library. It makes things like HTML document traversal and manipulation, event handling, animation, and Ajax much simpler with an easy-to-use API that works across a multitude of browsers. With a combination of versatility and extensibility, jQuery has changed the way that millions of people write JavaScript.


Take it from :

your code calls a library but a framework calls your code.


Martin Fowler discusses the difference between a library and a framework in his article on Inversion of Control:

Inversion of Control is a key part of what makes a framework different to a library. A library is essentially a set of functions that you can call, these days usually organized into classes. Each call does some work and returns control to the client. A framework embodies some abstract design, with more behavior built in. In order to use it you need to insert your behavior into various places in the framework either by subclassing or by plugging in your own classes. The framework's code then calls your code at these points.



There are various terms relating to collections of related code, which have both historical (pre-1994/5 for the purposes of this answer) and current implications, and the reader should be aware of both, particularly when reading classic texts on computing/programming from the historic era.


Both historically, and currently, a library is a collection of code relating to a specific task, or set of closely related tasks which operate at roughly the same level of abstraction. It generally lacks any purpose or intent of it's own, and is intended to be used by (consumed) and integrated with client code to assist client code in executing it's tasks.


Historically, a toolkit is a more focussed library, with a defined and specific purpose. Currently, this term has fallen out of favour, and is used almost exclusively (to this author's knowledge) for graphical widgets, and GUI components in the current era. A toolkit will most often operate at a higher layer of abstraction than a library, and will often consume and use libraries itself. Unlike libraries, toolkit code will often be used to execute the task of the client code, such as building a window, resizing a window, etc. The lower levels of abstraction within a toolkit are either fixed, or can themselves be operated on by client code in a proscribed manner. (Think Window style, which can either be fixed, or which could be altered in advance by client code.)


Historically, a framework was a suite of inter-related libraries and modules which were seperated into either 'General' or 'Specific' categories. General frameworks were intended to offer a comprehensive and integrated platform for building applications by offering general functionality, such as cross platform memory management, multi-threading abstractions, dynamic structures (and generic structures in general). Historical general frameworks (Without dependency injection, see below) have almost universally been superseded by polymorphic templated (parameterised) packaged language offerings in OO languages, such as the STL for C++, or in packaged libraries for non-OO languages (guaranteed Solaris C headers). General frameworks operated at differing layers of abstraction, but universally low level, and like libraries relied on the client code carrying out it's specific tasks with their assistance.

'Specific' frameworks were historically developed for single (but often sprawling) tasks, such as "Command and Control" systems for industrial systems, and early networking stacks, and operated at a high level of abstraction and like toolkits were used to carry out execution of the client codes tasks.

Currently, the definition of a framework has become more focussed and taken on the "Inversion of Control" principle as mentioned elsewhere as a guiding principle, so program flow, as well as execution is carried out by the framework. Frameworks are still however targetted either towards a specific output; an application for a specific OS for example (MFC for MS Windows for example), or for more general purpose work (Spring framework for example).

SDK: "Software Development Kit"

An SDK is a collection of tools to assist the programmer to create and deploy code/content which is very specifically targetted to either run on a very particular platform or in a very particular manner. An SDK can consist of simply a set of libraries which must be used in a specific way only by the client code and which can be compiled as normal, up to a set of binary tools which create or adapt binary assets to produce it's (the SDK's) output.


An Engine (In code collection terms) is a binary which will run bespoke content or process input data in some way. Game and Graphics engines are perhaps the most prevelant users of this term, and are almost universally used with an SDK to target the engine itself, such as the UDK (Unreal Development Kit) but other engines also exist, such as Search engines and RDBMS engines.

An engine will often, but not always, allow only a few of it's internals to be accessible to it's clients. Most often to either target a different architecture, change the presentation of the output of the engine, or for tuning purposes. Open Source Engines are by definition open to clients to change and alter as required, and some propriety engines are fixed completely. The most often used engines in the world however, are almost certainly Javascript Engines. Embedded into every browser everywhere, there are a whole host of JavaScript engines which will take javascript as an input, process it, and then output to render.

API: "Application Programming Interface"

The final term I am answering is a personal bugbear of mine: API, was historically used to describe the external interface of an application or environment which, itself was capable of running independently, or at least of carrying out it's tasks without any necessary client intervention after initial execution. Applications such as Databases, Word Processors and Windows systems would expose a fixed set of internal hooks or objects to the external interface which a client could then call/modify/use, etc to carry out capabilities which the original application could carry out. API's varied between how much functionality was available through the API, and also, how much of the core application was (re)used by the client code. (For example, a word processing API may require the full application to be background loaded when each instance of the client code runs, or perhaps just one of it's linked libraries; whereas a running windowing system would create internal objects to be managed by itself and pass back handles to the client code to be utilised instead.

Currently, the term API has a much broader range, and is often used to describe almost every other term within this answer. Indeed, the most common definition applied to this term is that an API offers up a contracted external interface to another piece of software (Client code to the API). In practice this means that an API is language dependent, and has a concrete implementation which is provided by one of the above code collections, such as a library, toolkit, or framework. To look at a specific area, protocols, for example, an API is different to a protocol which is a more generic term representing a set of rules, however an individual implementation of a specific protocol/protocol suite that exposes an external interface to other software would most often be called an API.


As noted above, historic and current definitions of the above terms have shifted, and this can be seen to be down to advances in scientific understanding of the underlying computing principles and paradigms, and also down to the emergence of particular patterns of software. In particular, the GUI and Windowing systems of the early nineties helped to define many of these terms, but since the effective hybridisation of OS Kernel and Windowing system for mass cunsumer operating systems (bar perhaps Linux), and the mass adoption of dependency injection/inversion of control as a mechanism to consume libraries and frameworks, these terms have had to change their respective meanings.

P.S. (A year later)

After thinking carefully about this subject for over a year I reject the IoC priciple as the defining difference between a framework and a library. There ARE a large number of popular authors who say that it is, but there are an almost equal number of people who say that it isn't. There are simply too many 'Frameworks' out there which DO NOT use IoC to say that it is the defining principle. A search for embedded or micro controller frameworks reveals a whole plethora which do NOT use IoC and I now believe that the .Net language and CLR is an acceptable descendant of the "general" framework. To say that IoC is the defining characteristic is simply too rigid for me to accept I'm afraid, and rejects out of hand anything putting itself forward as a framework which matches the historical representation as mentioned above.

For details of non-IoC frameworks, see, as mentioned above, many embedded and micro frameworks, as well as any historical framework in a language that does not provide callback through the language (OK. Callbacks can be hacked for any device with a modern register system, but not by the average programmer), and obviously, the .net framework.