Technology

What are the most popular Front-End Frameworks?

Marlena Walburg
Marlena Walburg
What are the most popular Front-End Frameworks

In the maze of emerging technologies and trends in software or web development, you can get lost. It is no different with front-end frameworks, which seem to evolve extremely quickly, and the demand for developers is constantly growing. A lot of new startups appearing are strongly involved in this, as well as a huge focus on user experience. And although the front-end has always been about the user, now it is a priority for any business that wants to enter and stay in the market.

There are tons of front-end frameworks available. However, not all of them are equally good. Hence the huge popularity of the technologies listed below. They offer advantages that crowd out other competitors. Each framework has its strengths, weaknesses, and specific application areas, allowing you to make the right choice based on your project’s characteristics and needs. Therefore, we decided to collect and discuss some of the most interesting and most popular front-end technologies. We focused on their advantages and disadvantages, as well as their application, to outline what project they can be a good choice for. So let’s start with a quick reminder of what front-end development is, what it is geared to and why it is irreplaceable.

What is frontend development?

Simply speaking, the front-end is the part of the software that is visible to the user. That is why it is also called client-side of the website. And so, front-end development is responsible for creating those visuals, software functions, and layouts that users directly access, view, and interact with. It is strongly connected with UI / UX design, which is a user interface and user experience. Creating an interface that is not only beautiful but also useful, is mainly the work of designers, but front-end developers are concerned with bringing their projects to life. They, too, must ensure easy accessibility, functionality and high performance, which is why these two roles from the development team work closely together. 

The constant development of mobile devices and their importance means that the development team needs to make sure that the website displays correctly in browsers on all devices. Hence the popularity of Responsive Web Design. Accessibility must be one of the most important goals to achieve. The conclusions are quite obvious, a front-end developer must have a holistic approach to software development. Not only should they know the frameworks very well, but also be mindful of a good user experience, satisfaction and ease of use.

React.js

The first technology that we will pay attention to is React.js. This framework created by Facebook quickly became one of the most-used among developers.

What it is?

React.js is a JavaScript library for creating a user interface. It is distinguished by the virtual DOM (Document Object Model), which is a way of representing complex XML and HTML documents. React stores the application’s entire DOM in memory, after a state change, looks for differences between the virtual and real DOMs, and updates the changes. The second special feature of React is JSX. It is an overlay to JavaScript that adds the ability to insert HTML or React components directly into the code, instead of a string.

React has a relatively low entry threshold, and by knowing JavaScript, you can quickly learn to use it in your projects. React.js is an open-source project, which has a positive impact on its development. High user involvement also contributes to better availability of solutions to common problems. The maturity and stability of the technology, which is constantly supported by Facebook, make React.js an attractive, trusted choice.

Where is it used?

React is primarily a tool for building UI components and entire User Interfaces for various platforms. Although React.js is a front-end technology, it can also be rendered on a server and used in desktop applications. This framework is very flexible. Combining it with other tools allows it to be used as a structure that will lay the groundwork for a complex application. Of course, by default React.js can simply be used to display a simple page or view. Facebook created React.js primarily for its purposes and products to stop relying on HTML5, but a lot of new applications are created with it. A large proportion of the well-known, most successful digital products, such as Netflix, Airbnb and Uber, use this framework.

Pros/Cons

Main advantages of React.js are: 

  • Component reusability – this facilitates collaboration and allows code to be reused in other parts of the application, speeding up development time;
  • Easy to learn and implement – any developer who comes from a JavaScript background can easily understand and start creating web apps using React.js;
  • Improved performance and trouble-free operation – React.js applications are faster and smoother by using a virtual DOM that exists entirely in memory;
  • Advanced and useful React.js developer tools.

Disadvantages of React.js:

  • The fast pace of development – the environment is constantly changing so fast, developers need to be kept up to date and it can be difficult for them to embrace all these changes with all the constant updates;
  • JSX – React.js uses JSX which is difficult to learn especially for new developers;
  • Poor documentation – React.js is updated so quickly that it is difficult to produce proper documentation.

Popular apps 

In addition to Facebook products, which is obvious as they are the creators of React.js, several big players in the market can boast of using this framework:

  • Netflix – the most popular streaming platform. Netflix itself even claimed in an official blog post, how ReactJS helps achieve high startup speed, performance, and other benefits;
  • Instagram – a well-known social media platform. Instagram is completely based on the React.js;
  • Dropbox – a platform for storing data in the cloud;

Vue

Vue.js was created to optimize application performance and solve complexity. Despite its popularity, however, it does not have very famous brands on its list. However, this does not mean that it is not a good framework to consider.

What it is?

Vue.js is an open-source model – view – viewmodel front-end JavaScript framework used for building user interfaces and single-page applications. When it comes to pure tech aspects, Vue.js includes an incremental architecture that focuses on declarative rendering and component composition. The main library focuses only on the view layer. Advanced features required for complex applications are offered through officially supported libraries and support packages. Vue.js also allows you to extend HTML with HTML attributes called directives. Directives provide functionality for HTML applications and are available as built-in or user-defined directives. 

Vue.js is highly approachable. If you already know HTML, CSS and JavaScript you can just read the guide and start building things immediately. An incrementally adoptable ecosystem that scales between a library and a full-featured framework makes it very versatile.  

Where is it used?

Vue.js is recommended for flexible projects that may grow gradually in the future. It allows you to build from scratch and also works well for creating large-scale projects. 

Pros/Cons

Vue.js advantages:

  • Flexibility and scalability – it can be used for small projects that will gradually grow and large projects as well;
  • Easy to learn – Vue.js does not require in-depth knowledge of libraries or JSX as is the case with other front-end technologies. Basic knowledge of HTML, CSS and JavaScript is enough;
  • Fast and lightweight – it performs a few times better than other frameworks, even with least optimization;
  • Good documentation – Vue.js has very extensive and explicit documentation.

Vue.js disadvantages:

  • Small community – Vue.js is entirely created and maintained by the community which is still relatively small. 
  • Possible language barrier – Vue.js is becoming more and more popular in China, so much of its solutions and discussions are in Chinese, which can make it difficult to find support;
  • Fewer additional sources and tools – compared to other frameworks, vue.js has a limited amount of tools and plugins to get started with. Existing plugins that can be used with other platforms are also often not supported.

Popular apps 

Here are some of the companies that have used Vue.js to their projects:

  • Alibaba – a widely known global e-commerce platform that wanted to deliver an excellent experience to its customers’ thanks to the use of vue.js;
  • Grammarly – the company used Vue.js to build its simple but impressive user interface;
  • GitLab – an open-source solution that supports the entire software life cycle, which thanks to vue.js, gained new functions and efficiency.

Angular

Angular is a framework supported and developed by Google. Therefore it is a direct competitor of Facebook’s product, React.js. Let’s check how much they have in common and which one of them is better.

What it is?

Angular is an open-source web application framework and Single Page Application development platform, written in TypeScript. Initially, it was supposed to be a version 2 of the popular AngularJS framework. Eventually, it was released as a separate entity due to the lack of backward compatibility, and a simple update path for AngularJS applications to Angular 2. One of the main features of Angular 2 was the ability to develop for multiple platforms: web, mobile and native desktop, while AngularJS does not support mobile devices by design. Besides, Angular has no concept of scope or controllers and uses a component hierarchy instead. It is also distinguished by modularity, and many basic functions have been transferred to modules.

Angular, unlike React.js, has the function of two-way data binding. It has been built with the Model-View-Controller concept in mind, so it can update the changes made in the model to the view, and vice-versa. It gives Angular a big advantage over React.js here.

Where is it used?

Angular’s use of bi-directional data binding increases the performance of browser-based applications by updating content quickly and dynamically. It also works for enterprise applications and dynamic web applications as it has a wide range of tools for SPA development.  

Pros/Cons 

The Advantages of Angular: 

  • Reduced amount of code – mainly thanks to the bi-directional data binding, which is available by default, as well as component-based architecture;
  • Dependency injection – Angular separates components from dependencies, defining them as external elements, and allows for their reuse and easy management;
  • Support from Google – constant updating of the framework and Google’s position makes Angular a safe and trustworthy choice;
  • Huge community – developers can count on the support and help in learning thanks to numerous sources of knowledge.

Disadvantages:

  • Steep learning curve – Angular is a complete dynamic solution that allows many ways to complete the task;
  • The complexity and size of the application – unfortunately, this can adversely affect the application’s performance and smooth operation.

Popular apps 

Google, which released Angular, also uses it in their products. A few examples of the most popular Angular applications are:

  • Gmail – the most widely used free email service by Google; 
  • Xbox Live – Microsoft online service for gaming and content distribution for the Xbox’s video game systems;
  • PayPal – a platform that allows you to send and accept online payments.

jQuery

jQuery was introduced in January 2006, so it is one of the earlier frontend frameworks. It is not outdated, though. Since its launch, however, its popularity has not decreased at all.

What it is?

jQuery is a lightweight, free and open-source JavaScript library, that makes it easy for HTML DOM tree view and manipulation. It is the most widely deployed JavaScript library by a large margin, having a few times more usage than any other JavaScript library. jQuery has a syntax to facilitate document navigation, DOM element selection, event handling and application development. Provides the ability to create plugins based on the JavaScript library, which allows you to create abstractions for low-level interactions and animations, advanced effects and high-level widgets with themes. The modular approach to jQuery allows you to build robust dynamic websites and web applications.

The jQuery library works on 74.4% of the top 10 million websites worldwide. It is constantly updated, and for several years there are daily updates to scripts based on this library.

Where is it used?

As we mentioned, jQuery can be found on many popular websites. While its popularity is slightly falling in environments focused on very large projects and web applications, it is still second to none on medium-sized websites and smaller projects. The jQuery library will still be an internet standard for some time, which can be seen, for example, from the fact that all the themes for all CMSs currently available in template markets use jQuery.

Pros/Cons

The advantages are:

  • Using the DOM – it is flexible in adding or removing elements;
  • Easy to learn – the simplicity of operation and the basis of JavaScript make it very easy to start creating applications;
  • Code simplification – with the help of ready-made skeletons of useful functions, jQuery increases the functionality of projects at a low cost;
  • Large community and popularity among developers.

Disadvantages of jQuery:

  • Low performance in complex projects – jQuery is so simple that it may require many additional scripts for larger projects, which reduce performance;
  • Big, more advanced competition among other frameworks.

Popular apps 

Among the most famous are:

  • Baidu – the leading Chinese language search engine;
  • Zoom – popular (especially now in 2020) modern enterprise video communication platform;
  • Stack Overflow –  the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn and share​ ​their programming ​knowledge.

Ember

Ember is an out-of-the-box framework that has everything to start building modern web applications right away. Although it is a little bit less popular than other frameworks, it is a complete frontend solution with a lot of benefits offered.

What it is?

Ember.js is a free, open-source JavaScript library that makes it easy to write the frontend of web applications using the Model-View-Controller (MVC) pattern. It enables developers to build scalable single-page web applications by incorporating best practices and patterns from other patterns of the single page application ecosystem into the framework. The framework includes facilities related to creating an application on a single website, including a router and automatic updating of the website template with the help of the Handlebars.js library. Ember.js has HTML and CSS as the core of the programming model. It includes everything required to create rich user interfaces that work on any device.

Similar to Angular, Ember is component-based and supports bi-directional data binding. However, compared to other JavaScript frameworks, Ember gives you the ability to write organized and structured code. 

Where is it used?

The framework provides a complete, client-side solution for large-scale projects because it provides an out-of-the-box configuration,  bi-directional data binding and custom properties to render the page. It is an excellent option for modern applications with beautiful, smart UI. 

Pros/Cons

Ember advantages:

  • Well organized – the framework defines the overall structure and organization of the application;
  • High performance – mainly due to processing similar tasks in one go;
  • Convention over configuration – it already has nearly everything configured to start coding and developing project immediately;
  • Good documentation.

Disadvantages of Ember:

  • Relatively small community – lower popularity of the framework makes the community smaller compared to the competition;
  • Steep learning curve – Ember is not as easy for beginners as other frameworks;
  • Notably complex syntax and slow updates;

Popular apps 

Despite being less recognizable than Angular or React.js, Ember is also used by large, well-known platforms such as:

  • Apple Music – the most notable example of an Ember desktop application, it is a music and video streaming service;
  • LinkedIn – a business and employment-oriented online service that operates via websites and mobile apps;
  • Groupon – a global e-commerce marketplace connecting subscribers with local merchants by offering activities, travel, goods and services. 

Summary

There are many options to choose from among front-end frameworks, and so you may be hesitant about the technology. Those mentioned above are certainly the most popular and very interesting, but the important thing is to first understand the logic behind them and the usage of each of them. Choosing from among them may not be easy, so you should trust the specialists who offer web development services supported by experience and proper knowledge in this area.

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