I have frequently found with front-end frameworks that developers seem to fit into their own tribes, similar to love them/hate them, or just feel completely bewildered by them. Hopefully, this article explaining why frameworks are useful and how to choose which one will help anyone feeling they fit into the latter group and help you have a better understanding to common questions.
Table of Contents
Why You Should Use A Framework
A front-end framework is ultimately a collection of tools and libraries that aim to simplify web design practices. When using vanilla code, developers can be faced with challenges, such as a lack of modularity, overly-complex code, and the need to spend a large amount of time building basic functionality.
These are challenges front-end frameworks attempt to resolve as they tend to focus on component driven development which tends to help developers have an easier time maintaining their code, improve code organization, and code reusability as well as enforcing good design patterns. Sometimes, this is known as opinionated code: a framework may have its own individual way of going about a common task.
Frameworks can be very useful tools that will help you quickly develop high-quality code. This end goal is not achieved without a learning curve, and developers wanting to stay ahead or at least in sync with the development community will need to be willing to keep pace with the ever-changing marketplace.
If you follow web development news, you will frequently see articles about advancements in new frameworks, tools, and libraries. It may seem that new features are released at breakneck speed. The good new is if you feeling confused, you are not alone, and many frameworks have a learning curve designed to quickly convey how front-end frameworks can improve and simplify your workflow.
Finding The Best Framework For Your Project
There is an enormous amount of choice for the framework you could use. With research and development, you will find the framework that will suit you the best. There are four popular front-end frameworks that come to mind: Angular, React, Ember and Vue. These frameworks are popular, robust, actively maintained, and have a high level of support available.
Each of these have strong points for why you may want to include them in your next project and reasons why they may not be for you.
Angular is full-featured and designed around the core goal of simplification. The popularity of Angular among front-end developers is well earned. Angular excels when building dynamic single-page apps. Angular also gives excellent support to Model View Controller (MVC) structures.
A downside Angular is that it is fairly opinionated, meaning there is a defined Angular approach to how you build applications which may feel to inflexible. Angular is also not suitable for complex, data-intensive DOM manipulation. It is capable, but you may find it unnecessary tricky to work with.
Google, Netflix, and iStockphoto make use of Angular.
I have found React a little difficult to integrate with traditional MVC frameworks and tricky in the past which can be a downside for many developers.
Facebook, Fiverr and Grammarly make use of React.
In recent years, I have definitely noticed an increase in the popularity of Vue. Currently, it is not as popular as Angular or React, but it is sharply gaining popularity on GitHub.
I tend to see Vue as a progressive framework that takes a fresh approach to the problems facing developers, especially those from an Angular background. With a sole developer behind this framework (who just happened to work on Angular while working for Google), they wanted to create a lightweight alternative with less opinionated code while still maintaining the strengths of Angular.
Laracasts and Reddit News make use of Due
If your project is ambitious, then I suggest giving the Ember framework a try. A complete client-side development solution is what Ember aims to achieve. One of the upsides of Ember is that it appeals to developers that are not keen on piecing together multiple libraries and making integrations in their project. Ember is much more prescriptive.
The downside of Ember is that it is strongly opinionated and again this may prove too inflexible when considering the overall all inclusive nature of Ember.
Apple Music, Linkedin and Playstation now all make use of Ember
The Future Of Front-end Frameworks
Not all developers are happy with the reliance on frameworks and feel that more can be done without adding the unnecessary complexity to a project that some frameworks introduce. At the same time, the direction taken even by HTML is taking back some of the functionality of frameworks. For instance, modularity and templating are now part of the HTML specification and will soon be implemented across all browsers. This will reduce the need to rely on frameworks like Angular. This seems to be in response to some of the frustration experienced by developers.
Optimization, standardization, and performance are likely to be some of the key features that frameworks focus on in the future as they strive to stay relevant.