Technology

What is a JavaScript framework? Which one is the best?

Marlena Walburg
Marlena Walburg

Some things don’t even need an introduction. JavaScript is one of them. It is a very well known programming language, and apart from HTML and CSS, JS is one of the core technologies of the web. The vast majority of websites use it to maintain pages on the client-side, at the moment. It should also not be confused with Java. Although there are similarities between them like the language name, syntax, and some of the corresponding libraries, the two languages are diverse and structured differently. JavaScript was initially used only on the client-side in web browsers but has now expanded its usefulness significantly. One of the reasons for this phenomenon is the appearance of various frameworks based on this technology.

The number of such JavaScript solutions available has grown significantly in recent years. Due to their usage, which in general is intended to improve the work of developers with JS technology, they are frequently chosen tools. There are a few of the most outstanding ones, such as React from Facebook and Angular from Google. These two are typically dedicated to front-end development. Below, we’ve also covered several relevant frameworks from other categories as well.

What is JavaScript Framework?

The JavaScript framework is a kind of tool that helps developers with working with JavaScript. Technically, it is an abstraction written in JavaScript, i.e. a kind of simplification of the problem under consideration. It defines the structure of the application and the general mechanism of its operation and provides a set of general-purpose components and libraries to perform specific tasks. The framework is distinguished from libraries or standard user applications by inversion of control. It means that the flow of which is imposed by the framework and not by the user. It is the framework that calls and uses code in a specific way and enables a coding of highly responsive applications. It also gives the programmer the ability to extend the individual components of the framework, if they want to grow them with the necessary additional functions. Some of the JavaScript frameworks follow the model-view-controller paradigm, designed to improve code quality and maintainability.

Types of JavaScript frameworks

The issue of categorizing JavaScript frameworks is quite contractual. We have used the division into the front end, back end and testing ones, to distinguish the main purposes of each of them. However, in general, many of the frameworks can be used to develop broader areas of application development, not only from their category. That’s why in each of the following categories, we have described several frameworks that have often been the most popular and most frequently chosen solutions of this type for years.

Most popular JavaScript frameworks

Front end frameworks

React

It is a technology of Facebook, created to improve the popular application of that company signed with the same name. Over time, it has grown to include new products based on it, i.e. React Native. It seems to have been designed to become an industry leader. React is a JavaScript programming language library that is used to create graphical interfaces for web applications, but most commonly used for building single-page applications. The main distinguishing features of the React.js library is the virtual DOM (Document Object Model). 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. Another feature of React is JSX. It’s a JavaScript wrapper that adds the ability to insert HTML (or React components) directly into your code, instead of a string. 

React introduced a lot of its concepts which made its approach to frontend web development seem unique, or at least it was in its early days. Its biggest advantage, which may also turn out to be a high risk, is flexibility. Why is it risky? Because it leaves the developer to choose from many additional libraries, which is sometimes very time consuming and can waste a lot of time looking for the best options. However, it is efficient and effective, so in good hands, it will be a great tool for building good applications.

Angular

It is the biggest competition to React and one of the most famous, powerful frameworks supported by Google. AngularJS is an open-source platform supporting the creation and development of web applications on one page. Originally, the library’s task was to implement the Model-View-Controller (MVC) pattern in web applications to facilitate their development and testing. The library loads an HTML file that contains additional tags specific to that library. Following the instructions given by these tags, the library assigns the input and output page elements to the model, saved as a set of JavaScript variables.

Angular 2 and later adopted a strictly component-based architecture that facilitates reuse. This architectural feature is the greatest advantage of the current versions of Angular. This increases code readability, ease of conversion and gives the application structure a manageable structure. Also supports modularity and much core functionality has moved to modules. It supports third-party libraries but limits their use by being quite sufficient on its own.

Vue.js

We mentioned that JavaScript frameworks are often based on the model-view-controller paradigm. Vue.js, in turn, is an open-source front-end framework, but of the model-view-viewmodel type. Like the others, it is used to create user interfaces and single-page applications. Vue.js includes a progressive architecture that focuses on declarative rendering and component composition. The main library only focuses on the view layer. Vue.js allows you to extend HTML with HTML attributes called directives. Directives offer functionality for HTML applications and are available as built-in or user-defined directives. Advanced features required for complex applications such as state management and compilation tools and routing are offered through officially supported libraries and support packages.

The greatest strength of Vue.js is its amazing simplicity. Its structure is simple and allows more concentrated coding with fewer lines of code. Vue uses a single-component filesystem, which means that for each HTML, CSS, and JavaScript component, they are in one file.

It is also definitely lighter than its rivals and has the best-written documentation, making learning Vue.js much easier.

Backend javascript frameworks

Next.js

Next.js is generally a React-based, end-to-end framework that enables server-side rendering. It is a production-ready platform that enables rapid development of web, mobile and PWA applications. Next.js is the recommended tool available when launching a new React application which renders all of its content in the client-side browser. Next.js used to extend this functionality to server-side rendered applications. Next.js was created by Dutch company Vercel to compromise some of the functions in React.

The Next.js creators noticed several problems with using only JavaScript library React, such as the lack of support for users who do not have access to JavaScript, significantly increased page load, potential security issues, or difficulties in optimizing the site for search engines. Next.js circumvents these problems by allowing some part or the whole website to be rendered on the server-side, before being sent to the client.

Meteor

Meteor is a free, open-source, isomorphic JavaScript web platform written with Node.js. The area of its usage is wide, therefore Meteor can be a comprehensive solution for creating and implementing web applications. Its applications include back-end and front-end creation, database management and business logic. 

Practically, Meteor is just a combination of JavaScript and Node.js. It is a very specific implementation of two technologies that has its unique ecosystem and uses isomorphic APIs and JSON memory. It makes it easy to build real-time web applications from scratch because it includes all the necessary front-end and back-end components. Thus, it helps developers throughout the application development lifecycle, from configuration and development to deployment. Not without significance is the fact that it is an isomorphic JavaScript framework. This means that the same code can be used for both client and server-side applications. This is a remarkable time-saver and a great advantage of the Meteor. It reduces code length, its complexity and does not require the developer to jump from server language and javascript. 

Express

Express was originally built by TJ Holowaychuk in 2010, then acquired by IBM in 2015. Express.js is the minimal open-source web platform for Node.js used to build APIs and web applications. It is extremely popular, and in some circles considered to be the best JavaScript framework from the Node.js backend. It is part of the MEAN stack, for example. A very important advantage of using Express is fast encoding on the server-side, which allows you to solve a task very fast that would take hours to complete in other technology. 

Express provides seamless connectivity with all popular databases such as MongoDB and MySQL. It also offers a powerful routing mechanism to define routes based on URLs and HTTP methods. It has been in existence for several years and has gathered an engaged community around it. It also has well-written documentation and a rich collection of tutorials and guides.

Testing Javascript Frameworks

Jest

Of the testing frameworks that are still somewhat less known environments, Jest is the most popular. It is a JavaScript framework operated by Facebook, designed and built with an emphasis on simplicity and support for large web applications. It aims to run out of the box, without configuration, in most JavaScript projects that use TypeScript, Node, React, Angular, Vue, and many more. 

It runs tests in parallel, running them in its processes to maximize performance, and has the entire toolkit in one place. To speed up the process, Is first to run tests that previously failed, and rearrange runs based on the duration of the test files. It enables you to write tests using an accessible, familiar and feature-rich API that produces results quickly.

Mocha

Mocha is a JavaScript testing framework, which runs on node.js, designed to ensure the validity of any JavaScript codebase. It is widely used for asynchronous testing. Mocha tests are run serially, allowing flexible and accurate reporting, while mapping uncaught exceptions to the correct test cases.

Mocha.js provides functions that are executed in a specific order and logs the results in a terminal window. It also cleans the state of the software being tested to make sure the test cases work independently of each other. Mocha.js is commonly used with Chai, a popular assertion library for Node.js and the browser, although it can be used with most assertion libraries.

Jasmine

The last of these frameworks is Jasmine. This is, like the rest, an open-source testing platform for JavaScript. Its purpose is to run on any JavaScript-enabled platform so as not to interfere with the application or IDE and to have easy-to-read syntax. It is heavily influenced by other unit testing frameworks, such as ScrewUnit, JSSpec, etc. Jasmine functions include support for asynchronous testing or the use of so-called spies to introduce double tests. It also supports testing your frontend code with an extension called Jasmine-jQuery. 

Jasmine aims to be easy to read. It comes with a built-in test runner. Jasmine tests can run browser tests by attaching a simple SpecRunner.html file or using it as a command-line test launcher supported for various languages such as Nodejs and Python.

So, which JavaScript framework should you use in your next project?

There is no only one good answer to this question, mainly because every project is different. The frameworks mentioned above are rich in various functions. Each of them has its advantages and disadvantages, as well as the main purpose, possible use cases and peculiarities. What is certain is that JavaScript is the dominant internet technology. Therefore, when choosing a framework, you should be guided primarily by project requirements, business values, and features that you want to have in your application. Check which solutions can guarantee meeting these postulates. Besides, consider the learning curve, complexity, quality of documentation and community support. You can always consult application development specialists. If you have a hard time making a decision yourself, they will definitely be able to choose the best framework for your project. However, it is good to have a general understanding of it.

Summary

JavaScript continues to be the most popular language among developers. Moreover, the number of frameworks based on this technology is very large. We have listed a few of the most important of them, but many niche solutions may also conquer the market of web and mobile applications in the future. Undoubtedly, everyone will find something for their project.

Are you interested in a particular framework yet? Or maybe you have already chosen your number one and want to build your digital product on it? Regardless of whether you have already made the final decision about the technology or not, BinarApps developers will help you achieve your vision and efficiently carry out the entire application development process.

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