Senior full stack developer and CTO at Ideamotive.
Frontend frameworks are needed to facilitate the job of web developers: these software packages usually provide pre-written/reusable code modules, standardized front-end technologies, and ready-made interface blocks making it faster and easier for developers to craft sustainable web applications and UIs without coding every function or object from scratch.
Front-end frameworks include certain development instruments, such as a grid making it simple to place and position the UI design components, pre-defined font settings, and website standard building blocks (i.e. side panels, buttons, navigation bars, etc.)
React is steadily popular with more than 3 million active users and supported by a large community: 80% of skillful developers have had a positive experience of using React in their projects at least once, and more than 1.5M websites have been made with its help.
The key feature of React is a virtual Document Object Model (DOM) with one-way data binding. Owing to the virtual DOM functionality, React is praised for its superior performance and considered to be one of the easiest frameworks to learn: its user-friendliness and comfortable learning curve make it a good choice for beginners or less experienced developers. Since React is a library, unlike other frameworks, it does not maintain some important features. That’s why React is meant to work together with other libraries, such as for state management, routing, and interaction with API. This front-end framework is the right choice if you want to save some time on developing an interactive interface since React’s components are reusable.
Because of its virtual DOM capability, React is the best option for complex projects including a considerable number of blocks (navigation panels, accordion sections, buttons, etc.) that go through variable/binary states, such as active/inactive, expanded/collapsed, active/disabled, etc. React becomes more efficient when used with other libraries, for example, Redux.
Some popular websites that use React.js in production are Facebook, Netflix, Vivaldi Browser, Khan Academy, Asana, Pinterest, Airbnb, Reddit, BBC, UberEats.
40% of JS developers reported that they were lucky enough to try Vue.js at least once in their career and more than 700k websites have been built with its help.
Vue is not supported by large market players like some other frameworks. First launched in 2014, it was created by Evan You, the person behind the development of another popular JS framework - Angular.
Vue features virtual DOM, component-based architecture, and two-way binding, which underlies its high-speed performance: all that makes it easier to update related components and track data changes, which is desired for any application in which real-time updates are a must. Developers that opt for Vue.js can benefit from its small size in comparison to React or other frameworks (ZIP file with the framework weighs only 18 KB.)
The main idea behind the Vue development is to deliver a much simpler concept than one of the Angular, that’s why Vue is considered to be one of the beginner-friendliest frameworks, coming with well-elaborated documentation and a supportive community. Vue has an extensive choice of tools, such as end-to-end testing tools, plugin installation systems, browser debugging tools, server renderer, state manager, and others.
It can be one of the best options when you need to build a single-page application from the very beginning or launch a relatively small project. Vue easily integrates with the existing server pages and supports developers with web-pack integration and a wide range of powerful features, such as tree-shaking, bundling, code-splitting, etc.
Because of the fact that Vue is a comparatively new framework, it doesn’t work well for large projects as it cannot ensure a due level of steadiness, support, and quick problem-solving (hopefully, all that is on the way).
Popular brands utilising Vue are Alibaba, 9gag, Reuters, Xiaomi, Ride Receipts.
Also called Angular 2+, it’s a modern TypeScript-based, open-source framework, and one of the most popular software development tools nowadays. More than 600K websites were developed with its help.
Angular (released in 2016) is an improved edition of AngularJS, with a boosted performance and a bunch of powerful features added. Angular ensures two-way data binding for immediate synchronization between the model and the view, so any change in the view will instantly reflect in the model and in reverse. Angular features Directives that allow developers to program special behaviors of the DOM, making it possible to create rich and dynamic HTML content. Angular has a Hierarchical dependency injection function, which makes code components highly testable, reusable, and easier to control: it helps to define code dependencies as external elements decoupling components from their dependencies.
Angular is all set to be the optimal framework for creating large, enterprise-scale applications.
When building a simple application with a small team, Angular can appear a bit overwhelming and complex, so it probably makes sense to opt for an easier framework. If SEO is your highest priority, you should look for an SEO-friendlier alternative to Angular.
Many of Google’s services are developed with Angular. Other popular brands using Angular or AngularJS for their web projects are Forbes, LEGO, Autodesk, UPS, BMW, and many others.
Svelte is neither a framework nor a library, but a compiler. Initially introduced in 2016, it has been dynamically gaining popularity since then and already became one of the best frontend frameworks in 2021: at least 10-15% of front-end developers are positive about using it, and more than 3K websites have been built with it to the moment.
This framework might be an ideal option for small app projects. It is beneficial for beginner front-end developers as it uses simple syntax, doesn’t require DOM manipulation, and makes sure that the browser takes as little workload as possible, which speeds your web product up.
Svelte may be not fully suitable for bigger projects. At least, because of its deficit in tooling (it doesn't have a mature pool of plugins) and a stable community. If you’re already employing a framework like Vue or React, switching to Svelte most likely won’t improve the situation.
Some popular websites developed with the help of Svelte: The New York Times, 1Password, Absolute Web, Philips BlueHive, Cashfree, Chess, Godaddy, HealthTree, Rakuten, Razorpay.
Want to learn more about Svelte development? Read out 2-part series on this very topic:
Unlike many modern frameworks, jQuery lacks a data layer, so you have to always access the DOM directly and manipulate it, which makes the process more complicated. That’s why if you are building complex user interfaces, you should better opt for some modern frameworks, instead of jQuery with its direct DOM manipulation, as it can result in bloated code and slow performance.
Among the brands using jQuery for their projects are companies like Twitter, Microsoft, Uber, Kickstarter, Pandora, SurveyMonkey.
Ember provides two-way data binding synchronizing the view and model in real-time. It’s known for speedy server-side rendering: Fastboot.js module improves the performance of complex UIs via server-side rendering of DOM. Ember comes with a large ecosystem, while advanced use of templates allows developers to reduce coding. It has a lot of powerful features and components available right from the start, including its own routing and testing tools, but if you need more, there are a lot of plugins and additional useful stuff maintained by the community. By the way, Ember’s community seems to be one of the most motivated, active, and well-organized out there. According to some observations, Ember might be lacking flexibility because of its strict and specific workflows that developers have to follow when using it.
Owing to its component architecture, Ember can be an ideal choice for creating complex and feature-rich single-page web applications for the client-side or mobile apps.
Can appear too big for small projects/teams, and overwhelming for minor activities such as building simple UIs or writing simple AJAX functions. Developers can only operate within a strict context of the features predefined by the framework’s architecture, so it won’t be productive when you need more professional space.
Let’s name a few: Tinder, Netflix, Apple Music, Chipotle, Blue Apron, Nordstrom, Yahoo!, LinkedIn, PlayStation Now, and Vine.
Backbone.js follows an MVC/MVP development concept: it encourages you to translate your data into models, DOM manipulation into views, and bind them together via events. In other words, it represents your data as Models that can be created, validated, eliminated, and saved to the server. These models enable key-value binding and custom events: each time a UI action brings certain changes to an attribute of a model, the model produces a change event. The change can be transferred to all the Views that reflect the model's state, so they can react accordingly and re-render themselves with the new data.
You don't have to write special code (glue code) that searches the DOM for elements with specific IDs, and manually update the HTML — when the model is somehow changed, the same changes are automatically applied to views. Backbone.js provides collections with a rich API of enumerable functions for assembling the client-side web applications, declarative event handling for views, and lets you connect it all with your existing API via a RESTful JSON interface.
Backbone.js is a good choice for building single-page, small, and simple web apps. However, it can come in handy when working with bigger projects as it helps to keep an app logic separated from UI, avoid spaghetti code model, and thus lets you maintain a better design with less code.
It’s hard to think of a situation when Backbone.js is strongly unrecommended: it’s decreasing in popularity, however, it is still a pretty relevant, flexible, and powerful tool that experienced front-end developers can make use of.
Trello, Tumbler, Uber, Pinterest, Reddit.
Semantic UI’s community is pretty small but very loyal and enthusiastic: shortly after release, they had already created thousands of themes for the framework, dozens of components for the user interface, and submitted thousands of commits to GitHub.
Semantic-UI is a framework allowing UI designers and developers to deliver an elegant and seamless design of the user interfaces.
It may not work well for developers/designers inexperienced with JS. Semantic UI isn’t the desired option in such a case, because you should be qualified enough to develop customizations in the application without depending on the ready-made functions.
Brands that are using Semantic UI are Snapchat, Accenture, Kmong, Digital Services, Ovrsea.
It’s hardly possible to decide which of the provided frameworks is the best in 2021, as each of them has strengths and limitations, not to mention numerous nuances and regularly released updates bringing new features to the table. Of course, we cannot review all possible solutions, there are more great frameworks left aside from the article.
If you are not sure which frontend development technology will be the best for your project, you may get in touch with us for qualified assistance! Our professional software advisors will help you formulate your business needs and choose the right technology, while our skilled front-end developers will be glad to help you in developing your product with exceptional quality and using the technologies fitting your situation in the best possible way. Contact us, and we’ll shortly get back to you!
Dawid is a full stack developer experienced in creating Ruby on Rails and React Native apps from naught to implementation. Technological superhero, delivering amazing solutions for our clients and helping them grow.View all author posts
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