The most popular development platforms based on JavaScript

The most popular development platforms based on JavaScript

Do you want to know about the different options for JavaScript frameworks, libraries, and environments for modern platforms that can help you develop scalable and unique apps? Here is an overview.

The most popular development platforms based on JavaScript JavaScript is a multi-paradigm language. It supports imperative (incorporating prototype-based and object-oriented), functional, and event-driven programming styles. At first, it was utilized just for the client-side. However, nowadays, JavaScript is being used as a server-side programming language and has become a testing language for web apps. In short, JavaScript is an all-terrain language.

As per the Developer Survey 2020 by StackOverflow, JavaScript is the most common programming language for the 8th year, with 67.7% of developers using it. Its versatility is the prime reason for its popularity.

In this article, we will present the different options for JavaScript frameworks, libraries, and environments for modern applications development. But first, let’s start by defining some vital concepts.

What is a JavaScript framework?

A JavaScript framework is a software product used by developers to build applications. Frameworks present a workflow to deliver products, and developers can place their code and fill the gaps to get an application up and running.

Frameworks have the purpose to provide a simpler bootstrapping and scaffolding for an application, thereby letting developers implement the business logic in their applications.

What is a JavaScript library?

Written or based on JavaScript, libraries are a set of resources that help developers build web applications that can include not only code but also images, data, and other assets that help serve a particular purpose. While some of them are focused on a very specific problem, like drawing maps or styling the page, others aim to facilitate the entire app development, which is what we are focusing on in this article.

The most significant difference between libraries and frameworks resides in a concept called inversion of control. In this case, libraries plug into your code to resolve a particular problem. Your code needs to fit into a specific workflow that the framework proposes.

To make this simpler, if you are in control of a code that you want to invoke to resolve something, you are using a library, and if you are filling in the gaps and not invoking the tools that run your application, you are using a framework.

The following list covers libraries that have the generalist vision of proposing a simple way of coding an application from scratch.

The most popular modern JavaScript platforms

1. React

The most popular development platforms based on JavaScriptReact is one of the earliest innovative JavaScript web frameworks. This influential framework was developed in 2013 as a component-based web framework having one-way data flow, which transformed frontend website development forever. Moreover, it launched several other concepts, such as immutable state, declarative programming, and functional programming, among other terms that were not common in frontend development. Another React innovation led to the launch of the Virtual DOM that provides better performance and user experience.

Without any sign of fading early, React is now the most dominant web framework. Its key features incorporate the following:

  • “Learn Once, Write Anywhere” is React’s slogan. Software engineers can use React for building React-native mobile apps, React apps for web, desktop apps, etc.
  • React is one of the sleekest JS frameworks where React-Core is only a component-based library for the View Layer, so your application will not be overloaded with third-party projects.
  • Facebook’s sponsorship boosts React’s development. The advantage is that React features are examined by 2.6 billion users of Facebook.
  • React is constantly enhancing itself, and it has launched React hooks, React Fiber, and Suspense to increase performance and deliver a better user experience.

With 8 million downloads every week, React is now the maximum downloaded frontend JS framework. Furthermore, from the past five years, NPM trends have displayed React.JS as the absolute winner among the frontend frameworks. On Github, React is the 2nd most starred JS framework, having the 2nd highest number of contributors. As reported by the StackOverflow Developer Survey 2019, it is the 2nd most utilized framework in website development.

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2. Angular

With Google’s support, Angular is also one of the most famous development platforms. It began as a JavaScript framework and later had a total reengineering process to become a framework that works on top of TypeScript, which is considered the next big leap in JavaScript evolution.

The Angular framework is component-based, organized into modules to collect functional sets that the application loads. Different services can provide the application data or logic shared across components using dependency injection. Finally, routing is handled within the application with a router service that takes charge of navigation, transitions, and parameters in the form of a single-page application.

Here are some key features of the Angular development platform:

  • Cross-platform: This not only delivers web applications for personal computers but is also able to deliver Progressive Web Applications that support multiple devices and use modern web capabilities in a hybrid way using the Ionic mobile app SDK, or even desktop applications, for instance, using Electron. You have all this without the need for any other download or the requirement to publish and deliver your application in a distribution store like AppStore or PlayStore.
  • High speed and performance: This is for loading applications and for development stages with excellent integration for debugging changes almost in real time in the latest versions of the framework.
  • MVC Architecture: This has clear boundaries across views, the model, and the controller that serve as a delegate.
  • Two-way data binding: This keeps the view and model totally in sync, thereby reducing development time and errors that maintain the correspondence.
  • Angular Command Line Interface (CLI): This command line interface provides a set of commands to development without any dependency on a particular Integrated Development Environment. The different options in Angular CLI resolve the scaffolding for any piece of code needed, consequently speeding up development.
  • Written in TypeScript: Last but not least, the decision to base Angular and place it on top of TypeScript boosts and enhances the quality of the final product. TypeScript is a better version of JavaScript that leads developers to implement improved practices, enforce strongly typed code- and object-oriented programming, promote modularity, and reduce errors before transcoding the source code to a JavaScript equivalent.

3. Vue

According to StackOverflow’s Developer Survey 2020, Vue has ranked the 3rd most popular JavaScript framework overall and the 7th most famous web framework behind Angular and React. As of April 2021, there are 383 contributors and 182K stars in Github. As stated by the State of JS Survey 2019, 40.5% of JS developers are currently utilizing Vue and expect to use it continuously. Meanwhile, 34.5% have displayed an interest in using it in the future.

The most popular development platforms based on JavaScript 2Vue is a lightweight, open-source front-end JS framework used for developing highly functional single-page web apps and creative user interfaces with less effort. It was first introduced in 2014, taking inspiration from Angular for delivering an easy, effective, and lightweight alternative in the type of Vue.JS. Although Vue has acquired many of its features from Angular and React, it has made significant enhancements on those features for delivering a secure, easy-to-use, and better framework.

Moreover, Vue provides high flexibility — it doesn’t just work as a high-end, full-fledged framework like Angular but also functions as a view layer using state management like React. Therefore, the main benefit of Vue is its advanced, unlimited, uncomplicated, and easier nature that adapts to the developers’ requirements.

Vue has experienced huge progress and fame over the past two years, dismissing Angular as the prime competitor for challenging React’s supremacy as the most popular JavaScript framework. Some of Vue’s key benefits include these:

  • Developed in Model View Controller (MVC)
  • Vast documentation and support resources
  • Emphasis on simplicity
  • Easy to learn
  • Seamless integration into current web apps

Do not miss this reading: Functional programming in the real world: A Javascript example

4. Meteor

This is a full-stack framework. Full-stack implies that you can control everything, from the UI to the database, using the same framework and language. This is one of the main benefits of Meteor. These are the  key features of Meteor:

  • The Meteor community is active, offering community support on the development and maintenance of packages for people’s use and forums.
  • Meteor comes with various helpful smart packages that are instantly accessible for every kind of use. It enables the addition of tailored packages for people who want to make their own packages.
  • Meteor is a full-stack framework that enables developers to learn a single tool and utilizes it for nearly everything in their app.
  • It creates a great proposition for newbie developers who are aiming for full-stack projects or positions, as they can become productive more quickly.

You can use Meteor for developing the interface of your app, but it can also be used in combination with a UI-specific framework (using Meteor only for the backend). In case you need to have an all-inclusive, single framework that will deal with everything in a single box, Meteor is the option to go for.

5. Node

Out of the list of frameworks and libraries we have named so far, there is Node.JS, a server-side run-time environment based on Javascript and the Chrome V8 JavaScript engine. It is open-source and runs on different platforms. This tool can drive asynchronous I/O using its event-driven architecture. It runs on the JS run-time environment and delivers complex features such as creating loops, packaging, and threading.

The purpose behind Node.JS and the difference with the other JavaScript frameworks and libraries are that it provides an execution environment that runs JavaScript code to serve any kind of application. With Node.JS, you can build web servers to hold your application’s backend code with great performance in data streaming, JSON APIs, and single page applications.

Node.JS has these key features:

  • I/O is event-driven and asynchronous: Every API is asynchronous. This implies that its server does not wait for APIs to return data.
  • Highly scalable: JS follows an event system that enables the server to respond in a non-blocking way, which makes it scalable.
  • Single-threaded: Alongside the event looping, Node.JS follows a single-threaded model.
  • No buffering: JS reduces the processing time meaningfully when it comes to uploaded video and audio files. It never buffers any data, and the app receives the data in chunks or pieces, resulting in improved performance.
  • License: It was launched under an MIT license.
  • Open-source: Since it is an open-source JavaScript framework, its community has come up with many great models, which have added more effective capacities to the Node.JS apps.

To sum up

You might be wondering which is the most popular JavaScript framework to use for your project, and this is a very challenging decision to make that is completely project-specific.

The presented list shows the different options available in the market, starting with a complex and really complete frontend library like React that is on top of the wave nowadays to something easier to implement out of the box like Meteor. You could also select something simpler with a short learning curve and a robust server-side environment that will help you build better web applications, like Vue.JS, or go for Angular with TypeScript to increase delivery speed and reduce errors with great integration with any backend interface.

Finally, it depends on you and your requirements about complexity, high performance, ease of use, and delivery speed that will lead you to your desired destination.

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