Reviewing Common Javascript Frameworks: Which is Best for My Development Project?

There’s a flavor of JS for teams, projects of all sizes

Whenever you scroll through your Facebook feed or place an order on Amazon, you interact with features enabled by JavaScript (JS) or its frameworks. In addition to the most common front-end programming languages, like HTML and CSS, JS transforms webpages from a basic, static structure to the reactive, dynamic functionality we have today.

Search boxes, videos, refreshing feeds, drop-down hamburger menus, display animations, timers, and countdowns are all made possible by JS. Most of these features are pre-written frameworks and exist in a JS code library readily accessible to developers. In addition to being time saving, JS also reduces server loads and can provide immediate feedback to users, such as internet shopping. Adding something to your cart, inputting credit card information and seeing “Credit Card number Not Valid” or “Invalid Email Address” is a way of seeing JS in action.

A lightweight, flexible language, JS was originally developed 25 years ago to assist CSS and HTML in allowing website design to be more responsive to users. Since then, according to StackOverflow Developer Survey 2020, JS has morphed into one of the most popular and most powerful languages, allowing developers to build reusable components for the front and back-end. JS is unique in that it is the only one of a multitude of languages that allows developers to learn one language and build an entire website, application, or game.

Angular

Angular, developed and backed by Google, is a front-end framework created as a way to build reusable, component-driven applications. The third most popular JS framework, stated in StackOverflow Research 2020, Angular operates on a highly opinionated architecture, meaning code will need to be written to specific standards to operate. While it may sound rigid and obtrusive, it helps to protect codebases on large teams with new developers from introducing bad code or creating errors.

Unlike other frameworks, Angular includes everything needed to build an application, including routing, state management, and HTTP connections. Utilizing components by separating out code concerns into each module allows reusable component-driven code to create applications across an entire company. Angular is also supportive of a DevOps environment, supporting Karma, a task runner for tests, and Jasmine, a testing framework, which allows developers to start using test-driven development right after installation.

Due to the fact that Angular is highly opinionated, the barrier to entry for new developers is quite substantial. Not only is Angular a difficult framework to learn, new developers also need to be well-versed in TypeScript (in addition to JS), essentially requiring learning two languages to utilize one framework. Another potential concern for Angular is versioning. While Google puts out large substantial updates that continuously improve the product, some of these can include breaking changes from previous versions, causing a partial rewrite of code to complete the upgrade to the latest version.

Vue

Vue was started as a passion project by Google Angular team developer, Evan You. Designed to be lighter, less opinionated, and easier to learn than Angular, Vue offers many of the same benefits as Angular. Vue, by nature of being open source, has a wealth of information that the community has developed to help new developers. It also has a more performant use of system memory than both Angular or another framework, React, helping to boost browsing and loading speeds.

Since Vue was created and supported by one man, tracing it all back to a single point of failure, future support and updates can be problematic. The testing frameworks, methodologies, and libraries aren’t as mature as those of Angular or React, and none of them are supported by Vue. Even so, Vue still falls in at number seven on the top 10 most popular JS frameworks, as reported by Stack Overflow Research 2020, and is the third most popular framework for developers.

REact

While Angular is a large, structured, and complete framework, React takes the opposite approach. Created and backed by Facebook, React is a very small package size and much less opinionated than Angular, giving developers the freedom to select which packages they need to install. The second most preferred framework by developers, as per Stack Overflow research, React is component-driven and much easier to learn. The React team’s approach to updates and improvements offers a huge advantage, allowing for quick updating and patching of the software.

Since React is so lightweight and flexible, this can also be disadvantageous as it does not include everything needed to build a working application. In being a less opinionated framework, React does not offer the same protection from bad code, which can often initally pass as working code.

Which Framework is BEST for My Team and Project?

Teams with established and experienced internal development teams may prefer a more opinionated framework, like Angular, because of the safeguards it can provide against poor code. The structure of the framework acts as protection from errors or inexperienced developers incorporating bad code. Also, consider the frameworks which your team has experience in. If your team is heavily invested in one framework over another, and can work around any limitations, this may be the best route.

For quick, light, and small projects, React could be a good fit. Perfect for smaller teams that are continuing to grow and mature their process, React has a very smooth and easy learning curve with more freedom than Angular.

Vue works for teams and projects of any size or sophistication, especially if your team is focusing on modern PHP development, as Laravel comes backed in with the Vue framework. With a team of any size or skill, ensuring the right controls are in place is important, including peer reviews, protected branches, integrated testing, and vulnerability scans.

For many projects, business requirements present a hard and fast line in the sand. A lot of larger businesses prefer the security and maintenance of using a framework developed and supported by a large company or community. If that is the case, Vue would be dead on arrival, even if it fits all the application criteria. Businesses or firms may also require elevated access or administrator approval before installing any new packages. In this case, Angular has almost everything you need and would be a much easier setup for developers and IT administrators, unlike React.

Lifecycles and updates of versions on these frameworks are also worth taking into consideration. Ongoing operations and maintenance after a production release can be time-consuming and expensive. Easier and more stable upgrades can be time- and cost-effective for any business, especially running multiple applications.

Wrapup

Choosing the correct framework to go forward depends on your development team, their experience, budget, business requirements, and the layout of the project. Frameworks that blend more easily with languages your team already knows would be much more efficient as many nuances carry over. Support and ease of upgrade is another key factor for consideration depending on the life expectancy of the project. While the individual circumstances are unique to each team and project, there’s likely a JS framework out there that fits perfectly with your organization’s unique needs and abilities.

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