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7 Best JavaScript Framework/Library for Front-End Development

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JavaScript has increasingly gained popularity over the years. The community is rapidly growing, and developers are continually building and developing tools for the language daily. This makes it overwhelming when deciding which tool, framework, or library to use for a particular task because there are always multiple options for everything you want to do in JavaScript.

It‘s still challenging to decide which library or framework to learn first. This article focuses on explaining the advantages of using several JavaScript front-end frameworks/libraries. It aims to make the decision process of selecting one easier.

React

![React](https://example.com/react.jpg)
React – A JavaScript library for building user interfaces

React is not a framework but a JavaScript library for building user interfaces. It is open-source and maintained by Facebook and a community of individual developers. React was initially written by Jordan Walke as an internal tool at Facebook. It was later open-sourced and released to the general public in 2013, gaining widespread popularity since then.

Some of React‘s key features include:

  • Provides reactive, customizable, and reusable components
  • Uses a virtual DOM
  • Extremely fast
  • Component-based architecture
  • One-way data binding
  • Code reusability
  • Has a vibrant, thriving ecosystem
  • Convenient state management handling

Installation/Usage

React can be used on the frontend in two main ways:

  • Over CDN
  • Using Node.JS

Over CDN: You can refer to React‘s official documentation to get a script link, which you can include in the <head> tag in your HTML markup. Choose the links based on your purpose.

For example, for development:

<script crossorigin src="https://unpkg.com/react@16/umd/react.development.js"></script>
<script crossorigin src="https://unpkg.com/react-dom@16/umd/react-dom.development.js"></script>

And for production:

<script crossorigin src="https://unpkg.com/react@16/umd/react.production.min.js"></script>
<script crossorigin src="https://unpkg.com/react-dom@16/umd/react-dom.production.min.js"></script>

Using Node.JS: I‘m assuming Node.js is already installed. To install React, simply run:

npm install -g create-react-app

Once installed, create a new React app:

create-react-app my-first-react-app 

This will install all necessary libraries for React to function properly, including a dev server, Webpack, and Babel.

Navigate to the my-first-react-app directory and run:

npm start

This launches a dev server on port 3000. Visiting localhost:3000 should display:

![React App Homepage](https://example.com/react-app-homepage.png)
A sample React app homepage

React is gaining immense popularity, with adoption by many large organizations. If interested in learning React in-depth, I recommend this Udemy course.

Vue.js

![Vue.js](https://example.com/vuejs.png)
Vue.js – A progressive JavaScript framework

Vue.js is a progressive JavaScript framework for building interactive user interfaces and single-page applications. It is a model-view framework with the core library focusing on the view layer.

Vue is popular for its ability to power single-page applications. Unlike React, Vue uses raw HTML and not JSX.

Vue.js is open-source and was created by Evan You, first released publicly in February 2014.

Some key features of Vue.js:

  • Provides reactive and composable view components
  • Uses a virtual DOM
  • Focuses on the core library (routing and state management handled by addons)
  • Handles scoping CSS without CSS-in-JS
  • One-way data binding within components
  • Support for essential addons
  • Code reusability

Installation/Usage

You can use Vue.js on the frontend either over CDN or with Node.js.

To use the CDN way, add this script to your HTML page header:

<script src="https://cdn.jsdelivr.net/npm/vue/dist/vue.js"></script>

The above is suitable for development. For production, use:

<script src="https://cdn.jsdelivr.net/npm/vue"></script>

To use with Node.js, install via npm:

npm install vue

I strongly recommend reading the official Vue JS documentation to learn more. Consider taking this Vue JS course as well.

Angular

![Angular](https://example.com/angular.png)
Angular – A TypeScript-based web application framework

Angular is a TypeScript-based web application framework for building dynamic web apps. It allows using HTML as a template language and enables expressing components clearly using HTML syntax. Angular is open-source and maintained by Google along with other contributors.

Installation

Ensure the latest Node.js is installed. We‘ll need to install the Angular CLI tool first:

npm install -g @angular/cli 

With the CLI installed, create a new project:

ng new my-first-angular-app

Follow the on-screen prompts. This generates the required files/folders and uses npm to download Angular dependencies.

To run the app, from inside the project directory do:

ng serve

This automatically spins up a dev server on port 4200. Visiting http://localhost:4200/ should display:

![Angular App Homepage](https://example.com/angular-homepage.png)
A sample Angular app homepage

Refer to the official Angular documentation to continue building your application as needed.

Ember.js

Ember.js presents itself as a “productive, battle-tested” JavaScript framework for building web applications. It offers out-of-the-box tools to build scalable apps.

![Ember.js](https://example.com/ember.png)
Ember.js – A productive web application framework

Ember.js is known for:

  • Built-in dev environment: Offers a test runner, auto-reload, and fast rebuilds.

  • Built-in router: Comprehensive routing system with async data loading, query params and dynamic segments.

  • Comes with Ember Data: Allows accessing data from multiple sources simultaneously via the Ember Data library.

  • Supports testing: Tests are auto-generated when generating entities. Supports unit, integration and acceptance testing.

Usage/Installation

Install Ember.js globally via npm:

npm install -g ember-cli

Scaffold a new app:

ember new ember-quickstart --lang en

Start the dev server:

cd ember-quickstart
ember serve

Visiting http://localhost:4200/ shows:

![Ember App Homepage](https://example.com/ember-homepage.png)
A sample Ember app homepage

Refer the official docs on building your Ember.js app.

Svelte

Svelte is a JavaScript framework designed for building slick interactive UIs. A major difference between Svelte and other JS libraries like React and Vue is compile time.

![Svelte](https://example.com/svelte.png)
Svelte – A JavaScript compiler-based UI framework

React and Vue rely on a runtime environment to execute your code. Svelte converts your code to ideal JavaScript at build time, allowing you to create faster and smaller apps.

Features of Svelte:

  • Component-based architecture: Easily build small, reusable UI components.

  • Fully reactive: Write declarative code to define how the UI responds to state changes.

  • Compiler-based approach: Your app is converted to optimized JavaScript at build time.

  • Small and fast apps: Results in high performance web apps.

Usage/Installation

Create a new Svelte project with npm:

npm create svelte@latest my-svelte-app

Navigate inside the project directory:

cd my-svelte-app

Install dependencies:

npm install

Start development server:

npm run dev

This displays:

![Svelte App](https://example.com/svelte-app.png)
A sample Svelte app homepage

Refer the Svelte documentation to continue building your app.

Backbone.js

Backbone.js is a lightweight JavaScript MVC framework that provides structure to web applications. It offers views with declarative event handling, collections with rich enumerable functions, and models with custom events and key-value binding.

![Backbone.js](https://example.com/backbone.png)
Backbone.js – A lightweight MVC JavaScript framework

Some key features of Backbone.js:

  • Extensible and modular: Allows splitting your app into reusable components. Add/remove functionalities without rewriting everything.

  • Open source: Free to use, source code available on GitHub.

  • Event-driven architecture: Trigger and bind custom events.

  • RESTful API compatibility: Easily integrate server-side technologies due to REST API compatibility.

Usage/Installation

Create a new Backbone.js app directory:

mkdir backbone-app
cd backbone-app

Initialize npm:

npm init

Install Backbone.js and dependencies:

npm install backbone underscore jquery --save

Refer to Backbone.js‘s official documentation on setting up models, views, collections etc. to build your first app.

Mithril.js

Mithril.js is a small JavaScript framework for building brilliant single-page applications. It is only 9.17 KB gzipped and used by major companies like Nike and Vimeo.

Mithril.js provides:

  • Built-in routing: Easy navigation and route creation.

  • Beginner friendly: Simple syntax, easy to learn.

  • Fast: Loads in milliseconds, great for speed-critical apps.

  • Cross-browser compatibility: Works on modern browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari etc.

  • AJAX support: Built-in XHR library for AJAX requests.

Usage/Installation

Create a new project directory:

mkdir mithril-app 
cd mithril-app

Install Mithril via npm:

npm install mithril --save

Initialize npm:

npm init --yes 

Add start scripts in package.json:

{
  "scripts": {
    "start": "webpack src/index.js --output bin/app.js -d --watch" 
  }
}

Install Webpack:

npm install webpack webpack-cli --save-dev

You now have a basic Mithril app structure. Refer the Mithril docs to continue building your app.

Conclusion

The choice between these frameworks and libraries is more of a personal preference than a "which one is better" decision.

All the options covered above are great in their own right. Here‘s a quick summary:

  • Learn Angular if you want a framework you can rely on without external dependencies.

  • Learn React for building fast single page apps and if you‘re comfortable with JSX. React has the largest community and job opportunities currently.

  • Vue.js has many of the same advantages as React without JSX. Vue‘s job market is also growing rapidly.

  • React is beginner-friendly and makes it easy to get started.

  • React promotes reusability with its component-based architecture.

Here‘s a Google Trends chart comparing the popularity of React, Vue and Angular:

![React vs Vue vs Angular popularity](https://example.com/react-vue-angular-trends.png)
Google Trends popularity comparison

If front-end web development interests you, consider this Udemy course to learn in-depth.

AlexisKestler

Written by Alexis Kestler

A female web designer and programmer - Now is a 36-year IT professional with over 15 years of experience living in NorCal. I enjoy keeping my feet wet in the world of technology through reading, working, and researching topics that pique my interest.