Let's start with the absolute leader - React. React is an open-source library created by Facebook for developing dynamic UIs using reusable components. Front-end developers have used it in companies like Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, Airbnb, BBC, Pinterest, UberEats, PayPal, Walmart, Tesla, and many more. Since its release in 2013, it has gained tremendous popularity, a good base, multiple tools, and broad community support. Being a library rather than a framework, it offers more flexibility to users as it does not impose any restrictions or conventions on the application design. It can be supplemented with other libraries. The React community is gigantic, with more than 196k stars on GitHub. It is suitable for MVP, small and medium projects. Here are its main features:
React offers reusable components. React allows developers to create reusable components framed in a tree-like structure. Reusable components are part of what makes React so popular. Reusable components and templates make the development time shorter, allowing developers to update specific parts of pages without changing the entire design. The larger components can be divided into smaller ones. It makes the code very easy to maintain.
React offers one-way data binding. React also uses Flux, an application architecture that supports one-way data binding. One-way binding binds the model's value to the view and does not have an additional watcher to determine if the user has changed the value in the view. The principal advantage of one-way data binding is that it gives better control over the app data.
React has its own virtual DOM. DOM keeps the virtual copy of a user interface in memory and allows it to update the page whenever there is a change in the data component caused either by the user or by the system. Specifically, virtual DOM is capable of comparing the previous and next states of the components. The real DOM renders the components whose states were changed. Virtual dom was actually invented to prevent whole code rendering when just part of the code changed.
React offers React Native for cross-platform development. React Native is a custom renderer for React. It uses native components instead of web components like React as building blocks. React Native by Facebook was a big turnaround. It was the first tool that assisted developers in creating a cost-efficient cross-platform mobile application.
React has a low learning curve. React is not a complete framework, so its learning curve is relatively low. It is considered one of the easiest to learn and ideal for beginners or less experienced developers. Anyone having even basic knowledge of programming can quickly learn React. It offers a Getting Started guide. However, React is constantly evolving. Therefore, developers must keep relearning the new features, while the documentation may be updated not that quickly.
The second JS framework usage leader is Angular. Developed by Google, Angular is an open-source TypeScript-based framework. With a collection of well-integrated libraries and tools, the framework allows developers to build, test, and modify the code. First released in 2010 as AngularJS or Angular 1, it was an open-source framework that used HTML as its template language. Version 2 of this framework and all other versions are also known as Angular (without the JS). It was released in 2016 and changed the template language to TypeScript. It is Angular version 2 that captured immense popularity amongst developers. Currently, the Agular community has more than 84k stars on GitHub. Angular has introduced features like dependency injection that supports testing and inbuilt attributes, also known as directives. It also introduced RxJS, a reactive programming library that handles asynchronous data with multiple events. Angular is constantly improving. With each new release, Angular adds new features and optimizations. Angular is used by many companies like Deutsche Bank, IBM, Freelancer, Gmail, Forbes, PayPal, YouTube, eBay, BMW, LEGO, etc. Being a fully-fledged framework, unlike React, Angular is preferable and valuable in developing large-scale enterprise-based applications. Here are its main features:
Angular organizes code into different modules. Angular applications are modular, and Angular has its own modularity system called NgModules. These modules are small pieces of code with independent program functionalities. The modules available in Angular include root, core, shared, and feature modules. While a small application might have only one NgModule, most applications have many more feature modules. Angular modules enable developers to improve the organization and structure of the application, which, in turn, enhances code reusability and testability.
Angular offers Cross-Platform development. Angular offers modern web development features to build apps for all platforms simultaneously. Code can be reused to be implemented in SPAs and PWAs, web apps, mobile projects, and all modern web browsers.
Angular has Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture. MVC is an architectural design that helps simplify the creation of huge applications by splitting the framework into three major conceptual components: Model, View, and Controllers. Each of these components is built to handle specific development aspects of an application which offers excellent scalability. MVC is popular as it isolates the application logic from the user interface layer and supports the separation of concerns. Thus, MVC supports rapid and parallel development, makes it much easier to debug problems, and allows seamless integrations of advanced features.
Angular is two-way data binding. The bi-directional data flow enables Angular to connect DOM to the model data through the controller. It allows for real-time synchronization between the model and view, ensuring they keep up with each other, with any changes to the model immediately reflected on the view.
Angular has a Command Line Interface (CLI). The tool allows users to type in commands that can produce immediate results. It also offers a neat coding feature of TypeScript. As this interface type needs much less memory (RAM), it helps reduce the application size of Angular, offering an enhanced development experience. The tool can be used directly in a command shell or indirectly through an interactive UI like Angular Console.
Angular has a steep learning curve. Considering it is a complete solution, the framework is not beginner-friendly. It also offers an Introduction guide and a great deal of documentation. Developers are never helpless in the Angular community. Still, learning Angular is quite challenging for beginners as they should learn associated concepts like TypeScript and MVC. It explains why Angular is not among the leaders when it comes to developers' interest. But developers continue to use Angular, despite the rise of React, as it offers a comprehensive solution that React doesn't. It means that developers don't need to piece together different libraries to get a complete solution – they can just use Angular, as it includes everything required to build a complete web application, including a UI, state management, and an architectural system.
So, Angular is the oldest framework among all and the most mature. It is not the "next big thing". It is just a big thing. It is a full package, versatile, well-maintained, and performs well when building apps for different platforms at once. Angular is the best option for developing large-scale enterprise applications. However, the learning curve is steep, and development concepts in Angular may put off new developers. Angular is a good choice for companies with large teams and developers already using TypeScript.
Vue suggests component-based programming. The framework doesn't impose a strict routine but allows developers to decide what they want to create. Vue permits developers to structure Web components and custom HTML elements that can be used and reused in web apps and web pages.
Vue offers Model-View-ViewModel (MVVM) Architecture. In MVC, the controller is the entry point to the app, while in MVVM, the view is the entry point to the app. It dramatically enhances UI by simplifying user interface event-driven programming. MVVM separates the user interface from the app logic and makes the code event-driven. So when the UI gets outdated, for instance, programmers don't have to wait for a redesign of the whole app but just plug in a new template.
Vue allows for cross-platform development. Vue makes it easy for developers to build top-rated mobile apps with excellent features such as cross-platform compatibility. The ecosystem of Vue.js is vivid. By leveraging Quasar Framework, NativeScript, Ionic, Framework7, Vuetify, and other mobile UI frameworks, Vue.js is also used for building apps for Android and iOS.
Vue supports two-way bindings using V-model. This functionality is called reactive two-way data binding, which means if you change the input value, the bound data will be changed. The v-model directive makes two-way binding between a form input and app state very easy to implement. It keeps the app data in sync with the DOM automatically.
Vue also has a Command-line interface (CLI), which allows running Vue commands in the terminal. It is used for the development and installation of the Vue framework core libraries, as well as third-party plugins. It reduces the time of initial project setup and scaffolding to a minimum.
VueJS is a developing framework. It is the youngest among the usage leaders. Unlike its competitors, it is not backed by any tech giant but is entirely supported by sponsors and its open-source community. There are fewer job opportunities with VueJS compared to React and Angular. But the demand for Vue.js has picked up relatively quickly and is still gaining popularity. It is because Vue stands out as a simple and straightforward framework that is easy to learn and use. VueJS has taken the good parts from Angular and React and is much faster compared to them because of its lightweight library. With these benefits, Vue can challenge the dominance of React and Angular in 2023.
And finally let's review the retention and interest leaders Svelte and Solid to learn if any of them is going to be the next big thing.
Svelte doesn't use a virtual DOM. Being a compiler, it does not require a download of any additional libraries to the browser to run the Svelte code. It compiles code into tiny, pure Vanilla JS. As a result, the code works much faster from the beginning, making a potential app product much lighter and more user-friendly. It is the first and most notable difference that Svelte has presented to the world of coding. - it reduces the size of the files significantly and offers lightweight programs for websites and web apps.
Apps created with Svelte have less code, which means less data to download and, as a result, faster loading time. Svelte enforces this by introducing a simple format written in TypeScript. As the Svelte website mentions, writing less code takes less time and leaves more time for other things like optimization, "nice-to-have" features, etc. The code written in Svelte is usually 30-40% shorter than in React or Vue.
Svelte has two-way data binding, just like Angular and Vue. It combines string interpolation and event binding to react to events and output data at the same time. It ensures that the Logic and the View are always in sync.
Svelte is also cross-platform. Svelte Native, released in 2021, allows Svelte developers to build native Android and iOS applications. The Svelte Native website states it's a "mobile application framework powered by Svelte that enables you to build mobile apps using the web framework you already know."
So, Svelte is still in its early stages of development, with job offers demand for it being deficient for now. Currently, it has insufficient tools, small, although growing, community, and a lack of support for immediate answers. In fact, it started too late to stand a chance against React, Angular, or Vue.
Solid doesn't use a virtual DOM. Like Svelte, Solid describes the virtual DOM as pure overhead that only slows down the library's performance. Solid reaches incredible speeds without using a virtual DOM by compiling its templates down to real DOM nodes and wrapping updates in fine-grained reactions. This way, when state updates, only that code, depending on it, continues to run.
Solid offers one-way data binding like React, allowing more control over the application data.
Solid shows promise. But for now, it is still in its early stages, just like Svelte. One day this framework can be used as an alternative to React, but at the moment, it has no chance to compete with it. There's a lot of work to be done concerning community building, bringing some alternatives to React Native, etc.
When choosing the best JS framework, you should pay attention to popularity, availability of specialists on the market, speed of stack development, and project requirements. Currently, there are three leaders React, Angular, and Vue. And these leaders will not give ground to any other framework any time soon, so the choice is mainly between these three. Based on our overall development experience, we can recommend Angular for complex and large-scale projects. If you have limited time and need a small project, you can confidently choose Vue. React is excellent in all other cases, but especially if you need high performance and the project needs to be implemented in a tight timeframe.
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