The choice of a JavaScript framework always depends on project-specific requirements.

You should take into consideration various aspects: its footprint, performance, reusability, and, not of the least, community support.

Knowing how difficult it’s to always keep up with the trend, we’ve decided to make a list of the best front-end frameworks based on the personal experience and opinion of the developer’s community.

Let’s put a spotlight on these top five frameworks and libraries:

  • React
  • Vue
  • Angular
  • Backbone
  • Ember

React

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced front-end developer, you would have definitely heard of React.

Created by Facebook developers with the initial intention to make their code more efficient, currently React is a leading front-end framework and the fastest growing technology. This is not surprising as it greatly simplifies the process of building rich and interactive UIs for web applications.

The results of the State of JavaScript 2018 show that during 2016-2018 years the popularity of React kept growing gradually:

What is great is that it’s backed up by the large community of developers from all around the world.

Moreover, the framework is completely user-friendly for newcomers – the guides help to cope with any difficulties that occur during the learning. Therefore, you can learn the basics of React in a few hours and master its advanced aspects with detailed documentation further.

Alongside React, developers tend to use ES6, Redux state management library, Express, Jest and React Native for a seamless mobile experience.

Developers love React for these features:

  • Component-based architecture.
  • An elegant style of programming and declarative views that help to produce a clear and maintainable code.
  • Rapid performance due to one-way data binding which makes manipulating with the virtual DOM faster.
  • Effective event handling.
  • JSX – a markup syntax that keeps writing components uncomplicated.
  • Adoption and popularization of a functional paradigm that eases the development and makes the management of application states more predictable.
  • SEO-friendliness.

On top of that, it’s a good choice if you have to deal with real-time data in your application.

We’ve picked articles that will help you get started with React and learn more about it from a developer’s perspective:

Vue

Despite being a young framework, Vue continues to get more and more attention every month from developer’s community. It has become more stable years after the initial launch and succeeded in bringing value to a lot of startups and enterprise companies. Yes, React and Angular still win Vue in terms of overall popularity and try to put the latter in the shade, but Vue becomes gradually adopted by software developers. According to the State of JS 2018, around 50% of respondents would like to learn this framework and not without a reason.

Vue is appreciated mainly for its gentle learning curve and reduced complexity thanks to which building simple web applications takes little time. It makes the components reactive, meaning any changes applied to the state object are visible in the rendered HTML in a flash.

Good news for React and Angular developers: switching to Vue is easy as it shares concepts of both frameworks.

Other Vue’s strengths are:

  • A component-oriented structure that encapsulates reusable code, gives flexibility and ensures easy scaling.  
  • Reactive mechanisms that help to keep the state object in full synchronization with the view and the DOM.
  • Solutions for mobile UI development.
  • The tiny size of the framework. It ships at only 18-21 KB.
  • Helps to keep the structure of a project simple.
  • Easy integration into JavaScript applications.

The last but not the least is the comprehensive documentation that covers pretty much all the features of Vue and its ecosystem. An active and ever-growing community that contributes to the development of the framework is its undeniable strength.

All in all, if you are looking for a lightweight and progressive framework which is easy to start with, Vue is a great option to try.

To dive deeper into aspects of development with Vue, we recommend reading the following articles:

Angular

Angular is an open-source platform for building user interfaces. It’s essential for large enterprise-scale projects and holds the top positions among front-end frameworks.

Initially, it was developed by Google engineers in 2009 and was known as AngularJS.

Later, in 2016, the framework was rewritten and started to fit the requirements of modern web development. The development team keeps releasing new versions again and again. The current version is Angular 7.0. Angular is a part of the MEAN stack that covers four major software development pillars: MongoDB, Express, Angular, and Node.js

But one should take into account that Angular more suitable for building complex long-term apps rather than SPAs as it requires a steep learning curve.

In the heart of Angular is TypeScript – a language that makes the code easier to maintain as it provides with a type system and reliable type checking. As TypeScript is updated independently from browsers, you don’t need to rely on the browser and can use all new features of the language.

Alongside the framework itself, developers use such tools as RxJS for handling asynchronous data and Angular CLI for easy creating projects, debugging and deployment.

Features for which you will love Angular are:

  • Component-based architecture that reminds of MVC but makes components reusable, encapsulates the code and make it more productive.
  • Two-way data binding that synchronizes the model with the view and removes the need to write excessive code.
  • Hierarchical dependency injection makes components reusable and easy to maintain.
  • Designed with the mobile-first approach.
  • Rapid performance. However, it highly depends on the quality of the code.
  • The template syntax that is easy to write and read.
  • Components that ensure easy unit-testing.
  • Active and large community.
  • Suitable for iterative development.

All in all, Angular is an awesome front-end technology for your project if you are building complex systems but not so convenient for creating fast-changing user interfaces. For the latter case, it’s better to use React and Vue which are more lightweight and have an easier learning curve. However, Angular’s steep learning curve is compensated by the reliability of the resulting software.

To get a better understanding of Angular, we recommend diving into these articles:

Comparing popularity

Google Trends gives a good idea of how the popularity of Angular, React and Vue has been changing over the last five years:

To help you choose between these three frameworks, we recommend reading the following articles:

Backbone

Backbone.js is an open-source JavaScript library initially released in 2010. It’s acknowledged remarkably lightweight as it ships at 7.5KB and depends only on two other JS libraries – Underscore.js and jQuery. It’s licensed under MIT and everyone can contribute to its development.

Although it has been really trendy right after release, its popularity started to decline with the growth of React, Vue.js, and Angular. The results of the State of JS Survey show that it’s not among the top three most popular frameworks but nevertheless, it’s appreciated by many developers as it gives a structure to web applications. Trello, Soundcloud, Airbnb, and many other companies choose to use Backbone as a front-end technology.

Why use Backbone

As an intensive use of JavaScript makes the code difficult to organize and maintain, Backbone helps to overcome this problem by keeping business logic apart from the user interface and makes applications well-structured. In other words, it maintains the backbone of your application.

Models, Views, Collections, Events, Routers, and Sync are the basic components of the framework. It abstracts the DOM into views, data into models and binds them using events. Thankfully to communication via events, the entire code becomes easy to read and maintain.

Other fundamental features are:

  • Key-value bindings for models.
  • Model-view-presenter (MVP) design pattern.
  • Real-time synchronization with the back-end of your app.
  • A RESTful JSON interface for a server-client communication.

One more advantage is that you can use a template engine of your choice with Backbone.

Though Backbone is not so actively updated these days, the bugs are fixed and the documentation is updated systematically.

All things considered, Backbone is a great choice for building both single page applications (SPAs) and complex client-side applications.

Want to learn more about Backbone? Here is a list of articles that are worth your attention:

Ember

Ever heard about Ember?

Your favorite Apple Music is built with Ember. Netflix, LinkedIn, and Microsoft and many other popular websites use Ember.

Ember.js is a free JavaScript client-side framework released in 2011.

Being designed for creating scalable SPAs, desktop, and mobile apps, it comes together with a set of tools that make up a complete development stack. With Ember’s conventions and out-of-the-box features, developers can focus more on the functionality of their apps rather than sorting out how to configure them.

Here’s the list of Ember.js strengths:

  • Built on MVVM pattern.
  • Compatible with Babel – a JavaScript transpiler.
  • Stability without stagnation is one of the core principles of Ember. It’s backward compatible with the older versions of the framework.
  • Beautiful templates which make the user interface of your application stand out. They are written with Handlebars – a comprehensible templating language.
  • Declarative two-way data binding. Templates are updated immediately once the underlying model’s data is changed.
  • More than 5000 of awesome plugins available in Ember’s plugin repository. You don’t need to build from scratch an add-on – simply install it. One of the most popular is Ember-simple-auth for authentication and authorization management.
  • Ember-CLI is another tool for enhancing productivity. It’s a command line utility that supports CoffeeScript, LESS, Sass, Handlebars, and more.
  • Rich ecosystem and vibrant community.
  • Computed properties that allow declaring functions as properties. It’s a powerful approach for creating new values.
  • Object system that simplifies the understanding of inheritance and mixins.
  • Easy refactoring of templates into reusable components.

Ember is built with productivity in mind and proves to be one of the most flexible frameworks nowadays. Try Ember to see whether it’s suitable for your app.

Learn more about Ember:

Comparing popularity

It can be easily noticed that Ember overtakes Backbone in popularity:

Which frameworks are the fastest?

If you’re eager to know which frameworks are the best in terms of speed and performance, we recommend digging deeper into the detailed performance benchmark results.

Final words

As developers, we know how overwhelming and challenging the process of choosing the JS framework can be.

When comparing multiple frameworks, you need to figure out how steep/gentle the learning curve is, what the nucleus of its ecosystem is, what kind of performance it provides, and more.

All above-mentioned frameworks and libraries widen opportunities in creating outstanding UI-first applications. Now it’s your turn to decide which one is perfect for your project.

Please find more tutorials & courses for all these frameworks onGitConnected.