In the world of evolving technologies, it is not permissible to use the old standards and development methods. So we will discuss the top 7 JS frameworks with which you should definitely be familiar closer in order to make your workflow more efficient and useful.
Everything progresses with the speed of sound, the load on the web applications grows up as well as the need for code improvement. That’s where the necessity in frameworks appears.
Talking about ‘framework’ definition, we can explain it as structured files and folders package, which consists of standardized code documents (HTML, CSS, JS etc.) that can be used to support the websites development, as a basis to start building a site or application.
The aim of frameworks is to afford a common structure in order to provide developers with reusable code. In this way, frameworks allow us to cut out much of the work and save a lot of time.
Advantages and disadvantages of using frameworks
In short, the advantages of using frameworks consist of:
- Speeding up the mock-up process
- Code Cleanness and tidiness
- Solutions for common CSS problems
- Browser compatibility
- Learn good practices
- Having a single procedure to resolve some problems, what makes maintaining various projects more straightforward.
- Helpful in collaborative work
As for Disadvantages, commonly they appear in:
- Content and presentation mix
- Unused code leftover – you can’t be sure that you will need it all, so it will provide unnecessary load for the website
- Slower learning curve - you don’t learn to do it yourself
As you can see, the frameworks use advantages are much larger. But let's get closer to the subject.
What frameworks should you pay attention to today?
AngularJS (commonly referred to as "Angular" or "Angular.js") is an open-source framework maintained by Google. It aims to simplify both the development and the testing of applications by providing a framework for client-side MVC and MVVM architectures.
- Angular is super easy to start. You just drop in a script tag into your document, add some ng- attributes to your app and you magically get the necessary behavior.
- It's well-supported by a core team, many of whom are full-time Google employees.
- Big userbase / community.
- It also has two-way data binding, dependency injection, mocking framework, declarative templates, and many other built-in features, from a Dom normalization API in jqlite to a promises API via $q, to Ajax support via $http
- It’s widely used by excellent tech innovator companies
- Apps can run slow if you watch deep object graphs
- Controllers can get big if you don't employ discipline in using the single responsibility principle
- Understanding the digest cycle at a low level takes time and there are very few resources available to explain it well
- Avoiding re-renders when the URL changes requires some finesse
- Not a great fit for use cases with more than 2,000 bindings, such as games or some incredibly complicated visualizations, as performance degrades with too many bindings
- Requires a strong engineering background to use in complex scenarios
- Difficult to use for isomorphic apps that render the initial template on the server in a performing way. Non-issue for enterprise apps.
- Limited support for only using the pieces you need in bandwidth constrained environments.
There is no more common framework for single-page-applications development than the Backbone is. In the examples in the documentation, there is a large number of well-known sites, and it is far from complete.
- It is small enough and it has flexible set of well-tested blocks for building applications
- It solves most of the major problems
- His focused functionality allows you to quickly understand it.
- Architecture is unclear sometimes, and this can make it challenging to speed up on some issues.
- Most notably find yourself missing when using plain Backbone are:
- A way to create derived properties on models.
- A way to bind properties and derived properties to views.
- A way to render a collection of views within an element.
- A way to cleanly handle "subviews" and nested layouts, etc.
- As much as the backbone is minimalistic, it's pieces also arguably too coupled to each other.
- Reactivity. A developer just declares the logic without doubts about communication protocol, and the changes on the server are reactively delivered to the client and back.
- Simple and useful RPC system called Methods. You declare a method body in a common code (client and server) and just do Meteor.call(‘methodName’).
- Data on the wire use (server sends data, not HTML, and the client renders it).
- Full stack reactivity, allowing your UI to seamlessly reflect the true state of the world with minimal development effort.
- You have to start thinking reactively right away. Forget about AJAX, always think about Collections and how to fit them into business-logic and UI.
- Database support is limited only with MongoDB .
- No model/object form binding (in road map)
- The package system is not npm (although Meteor is built on the node) and is closed to a community.
- Heavy emphasis on doing things "The Ember Way". This is a double-edged sword. If you have a huge team and expect lots of churns, a rigid structure can be the difference between having a transferrable codebase and every new developer wanting to throw it all away. But if you are collaborating with Ember devs, they can adopt it quickly and help on an Ember project.
- Outsource many of the hard problems of building single page apps to some incredibly smart people who will make a lot of the hard tradeoff decisions for you.
- Big, helpful community.
- Nice docs site.
- A good amount of existing solved problems and components to use.
- Ember code contains a set of specific views on how to solve a specific problem. If you do not agree with these views and decide to replace individual pieces of functionality, you will still send out all the unused code in the browser.
- Big appetites for the memory can also be a disadvantage, especially when Ember runs on mobile devices.
- Handlebars pollute DOM plurality with tags that not only complicates the HTML, but can break CSS, or integration with other frameworks like jQuery UI Sortable.
Released in 2013 by Facebook, it takes a different approach from the other frameworks we’ve been discussing.
Backbone, Angular, and Ember are often referred to as client-side MVC frameworks. That doesn’t accurately describe React, however. Facebook says that React is more of the V in MVC—the View part. The rest of the pattern is flexible with React, but Facebook uses the Flux architecture to fill it out, which is a pattern best suited for larger applications.
- The ability to rebuild the DOM, without worrying about its cleaning. React compares virtual DOM, which you rendered, with a current DOM, and makes minimal changes to be synchronized.
- Virtual DOM also allows you to easily solve problems related to event handling in different browsers, providing browser-independent and standards-compliant model appearance and the "ascent" of events. As a result, you get a compatible event model in whatever browser.
- React - it's just the presentation layer, not the framework itself. This means you can use any tools to develop applications that you like. It goes well with Backbone, as the Backbone does not provide packaged solutions for binding to the submission model, offering a view to re-render when you change the model.
- If you want really finite and explicit control over changes in the DOM, React won’t offer them anymore.
- In some cases, finding the differences between virtual and current DOM can be quite a time-consuming process.
Polymer was released by Google back in 2013. This framework uses the concept of web components to extend HTML capabilities. In short, here you are able to define custom elements (document.registerElement for creating new HTML tags with built-in behavior), doing HTML imports ( for being able to import those custom elements into other documents), and shadow DOM (for isolating CSS from the rest of the document).
- A wonderful opportunity to create such a thing as custom form elements, without waiting for their support in browsers.
- Polymer polyfills enough so that you can start to use and experiment with its functionality now.
- Isolation of styles when creating a widget is a problem on the web for many years now. The new standards address this problem at the browser level.
- You'll need to try harder to make components in every browser. On the other hand, you'll know how different browser works with Shadow DOM.
- It can be slow in performance (right now) on mobile as a mobile device does not have as powerful JS engine as on the web.
Aurelia is a framework that has a lot in common with Angular 2. That’s because it’s being developed by Rob Eisenberg, the man behind Durandal. Aurelia was released in January 2015. It is managed by highly professional community and carries a great legacy.
- Two-way data binding is provided out of the box and the framework does so very precisely.
- ES5, ES6, TypeScript, AtScript, and CoffeeScript support
- An advanced mechanism of composition and template parts.
- Aurelia is built in a modular way making it very pluggable. You can plug in internationalization, routing, virtualization, animation etc.
- Conventions use instead of its own syntax and boilerplate code. No special characters like the ones in Angular 2 (*, (),  en #) here.
This framework is quite young and you don’t have enough feedbacks about its stability. Also, some developers are worrying that the chosen framework in one day will no longer be supported because the author will be bothered.
Who uses Angular, Backbone, Meteor, Ember, React and Polymer frameworks?
For sure, you want to check some examples. Here is the short list of web-applications which were built within various frameworks.
How to choose the right one?
Choosing the right framework for any site is far from simple. Using a very complex framework for a single page site may give an adequate result, but surely misses out on many resources. Perhaps framework will have to maintain a non-trivial function and it is possible that it will have to maintain it for many years. In order to avoid many issues, try to figure out the best suitable framework for your project via answering the following questions:
What's the real framework’s capability?
Take the time to read the source code of the framework and the official list of features to see how they fit your needs.
Was it tested enough?
Are there some developers who built and implemented the larger, publicly available applications with this library? Backbone has a serious list of such (SoundCloud, LinkedIn). It is important to not only know that the framework works, but also be able to look at the actual code and understand how it can be built.
Did the framework work out?
New projects are often accompanied by a variety of discussions and releases. Do not forget about them, choosing to release production-level. Mature application’s projects are usually better documented, officially or through the community.
Does the framework have a full documentation?
Although the demo applications are useful for reference and viewing, you almost always want to talk to the official framework developers in order to learn something about the support of the API, how to solve common problems, how to create components, how to avoid bugs etc.
What is the framework’s ability to minification, compression, modularity?
Compression is used to reduce file size before they are sent from the server to the client. Minificated file format requires less bytes thus making it to download. Modularity allows to separate and recombine components. However, all of these issues aim to achieve the same goal - faster load time.
Which dependencies does the framework have?
Some frameworks have a tendency to specify the size of the file, but they don’t mention the size of the library dependencies. A small library would be a big surprise if, for example, depends on jQuery or other libraries.
Are you familiar with a current framework’s community of developers and users?
Is there an active community of stakeholders and users, who would be able to help in case of bugs and problems?
Considering all of the above items, paying attention to details, it will be easier to understand and choose the framework that is will be entirely suitable to the needs of your project. This will avoid many problems and headaches in the future.
Today we have many options to facilitate and improve the development process. Via permanent technologies and software evolution, it’s not unusual that frameworks became so popular and irreplaceable in the development workflow.
While making a decision to start using a framework, another problem appears – which one to choose. To be sure in an answer, you should know perfectly your project’s issues and needs (as current as future). As long as you know your business needs, you can familiarize with the mentioned above list of existing popular frameworks (Angular, Backbone, Meteor, Ember, React, Polymer, and Aurelia). After that, try to think about a list of useful questions and put together your demands and current answers. In this case, it will be much easier to find the best solution for your project and start to use it right now.