Frameworks have become prevalent in web development because they provide an easy way to create components and come with models and code separation systems.
As a frontend developer, you'll probably have to become familiar with a few of them as many jobs require you to know your way around associated libraries and tools like React, Vue, Angular, or Svelte.
But with so many options to choose from, it might be hard to choose the best framework? In this article, you'll find a list of the most popular frameworks so you can make your own decision.
Here's what we'll cover:
- What do they do
- The advantages of using one
Because of their functionalities, web frameworks often get confused with libraries, but they're different in scope.
jQuery opened the door for new frontend tools, and modern frameworks like Backbone, Angular, and Ember appeared to provide a complete architecture for frontend application development.
Their structure dictates how you build your applications and enable the abstraction of different parts of your UIs into components that can be maintained and reused independently, simplifying the creation of highly dynamic, interactive applications.
In addition, frameworks also enable you to:
- Manipulate your UI based on data
- Solve common frontend challenges
- Write maintainable and easy to read code
- Reuse components common to other interfaces
- Communicate ideas and patterns in a common language
- Standardize UI elements such as color, buttons, and typography
Should you use one?
/notice The line is thin between libraries and frameworks. In this list, we’ll include both libraries & frameworks.
There are more than 20 frameworks and 80 libraries available for developers to choose from, but here's are the 6 most popular you should know about in 2022:
Before we dive into each of these frameworks, here are the criteria I used to select them:
- They're popular choices that have been around for a while and won't likely be discontinued
- They have plenty of resources, tutorials, guides, and information for beginners
- They have solid communities and solid documentation
/notice This list focuses on frontend frameworks. We couldn't recommend anything other than Node.js if you're looking for a back-end framework.
If you're looking for a React framework, you should have a look at Next.js.
React.js provides fast UIs for interactive apps which use data efficiently by instantly applying changes to elements rather than updating all occurrences at once as other libraries do. It also supports incremental use with the virtual DOM (document object model) to make fast updates to web page content. React also uses JSX, a domain-specific interface created by the same team.
- React components: React divides your page into multiple components. Each component is part of the UI and has its own logic and design, making them easier and faster to reuse.
- Virtual DOM: The virtual document object model presents data in a tree structure. It also divides data into modules containing a node for each independent UI element present in the document. This ensures that when you reload a page, it only refreshes one part of it rather than the whole website.
- Declarative UI: JSX's HTML-style syntax allows you to control flow and state in your application by deciding how your component should look like.
Vue was created in 2014 by Evan You, a former Google employee. It aims to be a framework that combines the best features of Angular and React. Vue retains Angular's template syntax and React's data binding, props, and component-based approach.
- Animated transitions: Vue provides various ways to apply transition effects to HTML elements when adding or updating them from the DOM. You can also integrate third-party animation libraries for even more interactivity.
- Templates: Vue provides HTML templates that bind the DOM with Vue's instance data. It compiles templates into the virtual DOM as HTML that can be parsed and rendered by all browsers.
- Vue routing: Routing allows users to switch between pages without refreshing the page, making navigation easier and faster*.*
- Directives: Directives are instructions that bind themselves to a property on a Vue instance. They enable VueJS to manipulate the visual part of your application to change what the user sees in front of it.
/notice If you’re looking for a Svelte framework, you should look at SvelteKit.
- No virtual DOM: Svelte works directly on the code without a DOM, and it moves most of the code processing to the compilation stage, achieving faster speeds than other frameworks.
- Requires less code: Svelte requires fewer lines of code than React and Vue, reducing the number of time developers spend writing code.
- Modular CSS: Svelte ensures design consistency across pages and applications by scoping styles and generating unique class names.
Created by Google in 2010, Angular is a component-based framework. It offers developers a collection of integrated libraries and tools to develop, test, and update their code. This makes it a robust option for building and deploying web applications.
Angular combines declarative templates, dependency injection, solid end-to-end tooling, and an integrated set of best practices to solve development challenges.
- Two-Way Data Binding: Angular's two-way binding represents the model layer, so if you change the model, users can see changes in the view model automatically, decreasing development time.
- Dependency injection: This programming paradigm allows classes, components, and modules to work interdependently while maintaining code consistency, reducing the frequency with which the class changes.
- MVC architecture: This type of architecture isolates the application logic from the UI layer, supporting separation of concerns and saving you coding time.
Created in 2011 by Yehuda Katz, Ember is an MVC (Model-view-Controller ) framework that developers can use to develop both desktop and mobile applications as well as single-page applications.
Ember.js provides a new binding syntax using the HTMLBars template engine, a superset of the Handlebars templating engine that automatically updates any relevant data changes.
- Handlebars syntax: Handlebars is a templating language. It uses a template and an input object to generate HTML or other text formats. Handlebars templates look like a regular text with embedded expressions that use the handlebar syntax.
- Ember Inspector tool: This tool enables developers to inspect their Ember code, see the state of a running Ember app, and debug applications quickly.
- Ember-simple-auth: This feature enables you to manage authentication and authorization. It abstracts common patterns and integrates with other security addons for better authentication.
- Application initializers: Application initialization runs your application as it boots and configures your application's dependency injection.
When handling the DOM, Backbone.js adopts an imperative programming style that describes how to get what you want, contrasting with other frameworks’ declarative programming style.
- Open source: Backbone is a free, open-source project with more than 100 free libraries to choose from.
- Enables cross-platform development: Backbone enables developers to create applications that work on different browsers and devices.
Up and coming frameworks worth a look
Created in 2020, Redwood is an opinionated full-stack framework that provides a standardized workflow and can deploy your application with a simple git push command. It takes control of the data side of your application and has a strong separation of concerns for both frontend and backend.
- Opinionated framework: Redwood wants you to build web applications using Jamstack-based tooling. It offers developers a default way of formatting code, organizing files, and using Webpack and Babel.
- Serverless functions: Redwood leverages a GraphQL API with serverless backend functions running on Amazon Lambda. The main logic in Redwood is written as services that represent an API endpoint.
- Built on React: Redwood shouldn't be hard to master if you already know React. It builds on top of React's development workflow to provide developers with a familiar way of building web applications.
- Services layer: Redwood abstracts all your business logic into a services layer. This layer can be accessed via GraphQL APIs and serverless functions.
- Nested pages: Pages inside a route folder are nested in the route rather than being separate; you can embed components into your parent page, resulting in fewer errors and faster loading time.
As an aspiring frontend developer, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed by the number of different frameworks to choose from, but don't worry. You can start by learning one or two and gradually add more as you become more comfortable.
However, before you choose one, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I need a framework?
- Is the learning curve too steep?
- Are the framework's features what I need?
- Will the framework integrate well with my workflow?
- What problems am I trying to solve with a framework?
If you don't have any experience with frameworks yet, now is the time to start learning. With so many companies using them as part of their standard tooling, having skills in one or more frameworks will give you an edge.
Just don't forget to have fun while you're at it.
Do you have a favorite framework? Let me know in the comments.
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