To summarize or recommend which is the best front end framework to adopt would be naive. The project’s requirement, flexibility needed and features to be added should dominate this decision. But as there are a crop of frameworks in the market with an elaborate list of features it becomes difficult to distinguish between the ones you need and the ones that are popular.
Before diving into the available options, let’s start this analysis on broader perspective of what exactly we are looking at.
The term Frontend Frameworks encompasses a platter of services. It can range from the design of your website, Scripts that run on the browser or the entire Application Layer of your Organization. Hence while referring to Frontend technologies we need to categorize and pinpoint the frontend we are referring to. Web Frameworks can be categorized into 3 sections based on the layers of services provided on the Frontend.
- UI/CSS Frameworks : These frameworks are layout/design driven. They include design templates for UI components like buttons, banners, cards, dialogues, lists etc which help define the appearance of a webpage. E.g. Foundation, Semantic UI, Materialize.
- Frontend JS Frameworks : These frameworks are application driven. They contain structured code libraries that can be used during routine programming based on which developers can build web applications. E.g. Angular JS, React, Vue.js, Meteor.
- Backend Frameworks : These frameworks lie on the server end and are used to communicate with the database to incorporate information to and from the frontend. They are a collection of languages and tools used to bridge between the Application and the Database. e.g Laravel, Django, Ruby on Rails, Flask.
Depending upon your project’s requirement you can decide which of these frameworks (individually or in combination) would be the most feasible for you to work with.
For now, we will elaborate more on the best Front end Frameworks which constitutes the main component for the Application development of your UI. Having segregated our category, what are the features based on which you should evaluate a JS Framework ?
- Speed / Performance : The very basic criteria for any frontend application today is to perform seamlessly across varying architectures. Even though the response time of an application also depends on the quality of code; the same piece of code/component across frameworks helps us evaluate its performance.
- Ease of Understanding : Developers are equipped with programming languages. But how fast can your developer get accustomed to a new framework to completely utilize all its features. The tutorials/demos available for a newcomer to get started on learning the conventions contribute to ease of learning.
- Support : The amount of documentation available, community forums, groups constitute the support of any framework. Users/Developers should receive quick resolutions on the bugs they report on built-in functions. The reference material should contain both basic and advanced use-cases.
- Flexibility/Customization : Most frameworks are considered to be restrictive, providing only limited variation of Components to be used. These lead to websites which are molded out of the same cast with minor deviations. The capability or bandwidth provided by frameworks to let us introduce/modify our own components without compromising performance is what developers are on the lookout for.
- Interoperability/Compatibility : Interoperability across multiple libraries and Remote API integration is a rare quality we find in few of the frameworks. Usually projects stick to one base language for development, but cross compatibility with components developed in typescript, php or perl would be an added benefit.
- State management : The state of an application does come into play when developing large applications. State is the consolidation of all values held by the application in properties or variables. Many newer models demand creation of a “store” of the current state of the application. Depending upon the complexity of your project you can choose the framework that provides the most simplified State Management functionalities.
These properties provide us with dimensions to consider while deciding on the best front end Framework, which fit for the results you would like to achieve. This list is not exhaustive and can be extended further depending on the anticipated results. Clarion extensively works in Front end development, and based on the current market requirement we have consolidated a list of the most frequently used JS frameworks requested by clients.
- Small in Size
- Easy to Learn
- More Flexible and less opinionated
- Two-way binding: Following the MVC architecture; vue.js facilitates automatic data sync with your DOM without having to write explicit logic for it.
- State management – The component’s collaterals are tracked during its render, so when the state changes only those components requiring re-render are touched.
- Lack of some common solid plugins/components
- Evolving fast- Introducing Multiple changes rapidly
- Small community – As vue.js is new in comparison to other Frameworks, the community of contributors is still growing.
You can go through a list of websites/applications developed in Vue.js here.
The prominent USP of angular is that it is developed by Google. It has been introduced in 2010 and since then it has evolved a lot till date. Most frameworks have features inspired from Angular. Angular belongs to the MEAN stack (Mongo Db, Express, Angular, Node.js) of JS development.
- Dependency Injection - DI is a application design pattern in which the Class requests for dependencies from external sources rather than the creating it itself. This increases efficiency and modularity.
- Two way data binding – As it belongs to the MVC architecture, there is synchronization between the Model and View. As the Data Model changes the View reflects the changes and vice-versa.
- Strong Community - As it has been a while since Angular has been in the market, it has a huge community of developers contributing to Forums with training materials and discussions.
- Learning curve - Angular is considered to be difficult to learn in the novice stages with vast extent of components and MVC architecture. The Developer needs to be acquainted with MVC architecture patters.
- Lag in performance - If there are more than 2000 watchers hooked to a terminal the UI starts lagging.
To gain insight on the type of websites you can develop with angular visit here. It includes popular names like PayPal and Netflix. This will provide you with an overview of the extent of flexibility you can achieve with Angular across various versions.
- Reusability of Code Components
- Introduction of Virtual DOM
- Rapid changes to Library leading to poor documentation.
- Steep learning curve for beginners due to the introduction of JSX.
- No router or Model Management features
Facebook being a prominent example, here you can find the extended list of websites developed using React JS.
Node.js occupies a significant position in the list of the best front end frameworks. It is an open-source, cross-platform Java Script Environment developed by Joyent, a Cloud Computing solutions provider. It was designed with a motive of making JS application independent of the browser. Hence Node.js is not just used to dynamize your web pages, rather it can build standalone JS applications as a substitute to Python and other scripting languages.
- Due to its Event Driven – SingleThreaded – Non Blocking nature Node.js is apt to be used on chat servers, gaming platforms, video conferences where a constant update of the data is required.
- Node8 and V8 JS Runtime Engine are both written in C which directly compiles the JS code into machine code, making it faster than other competitive scripting tools.
- Fullstack Development- Node JS developers write JS scripts for the websever(backend) as well as the browser(frontend), you do not need to use another Serverside scripting tool hence making the communication simpler and faster.
- Since it is based on JS, it is easy to learn without having the developers having to put in extra efforts.
- The structure of Node promotes the use of Asynchronous programming Model which is difficult to adapt to in comparison to linear blocking I/O programming model. As node JS applications indulge mainly in nested calls, the code becomes clumsy and difficult to understand.
- The API is unstable as it is frequently updated and is incompatible with its previous versions.
- Since it is not a Framework, Node is considered un-opinionated, taking more time to develop.
Being purely JS based Node is mostly used for websites that need dynamic changes like shopping, gaming or chat. Here are a few examples you can refer to.
- Faster Development
- Two way data binding
- Built-in testing tools
- Steep learning curve
- Heavy Framework
- Too big for small projects
- Smaller community
Ember markets itself for Scalable single-page web applications. Discourse, LinkedIn, Live nation being only a few of the exhaustive list of sites developed with Ember.
To conclude, this list of the best front end Frameworks accommodates most of the popular and reliable platforms that are extensively used throughout the web. Developers acquainted with Java Script can easily adapt to these frameworks and get busy from the word go. With guidance from respective experts you can build a team of Web Developers that are proficient in most of these frameworks. But to identify the right framework for you, you need to get your requirements and design specifications aligned.