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Best JavaScript Frameworks, Libraries and Tools to Use in 2019 — SitePoint

It appears there are extra JavaScript frameworks, libraries, and instruments than there are builders. On the finish of 2018, a fast search on GitHub reveals 2.three million JavaScript tasks. npm has develop into the world’s largest module system with 700,000 usable packages on npmjs.com and billions of downloads each month.

2018.12.06: The article was up to date to mirror the present state of the JavaScript ecosystem. This yr’s replace was sponsored by Sencha. Thanks for supporting the companions who make SitePoint potential!

This text endeavors to clarify the fundamentals and rudimentary variations between the preferred client-side JavaScript frameworks, libraries, and instruments. Whether or not they’re “best” for you is one other query. Select one thing and keep it up for some time. Simply remember your favourite choice can be outmoded by one thing “better” it doesn’t matter what you choose!

Please settle for the next phrases and circumstances earlier than studying this text!…

  • The JavaScript panorama modifications each day. This text shall be outdated the second it’s revealed!
  • By “best” I imply “the most popular/used/hyped general-purpose projects”. All have free/open supply choices however the listing might not embrace your favorites.
  • Discontinued tasks similar to YUI usually are not included regardless that they could nonetheless have excessive use throughout the online.
  • Solely client-side tasks are referenced. Some can work server-side however the record doesn’t embrace pure server-based frameworks comparable to Categorical.js or Hapi.
  • Details about every undertaking is deliberately temporary to present an summary for additional analysis.
  • Every challenge supplies a utilization reputation indicator however statistics are notoriously troublesome to collate and may be deceptive.
  • I’m biased. You’re biased. Everybody else is biased! I haven’t tried each device right here and will declare my favorites however you need to make your personal evaluation based mostly in your necessities.
  • Neither I or SitePoint are responsible for any disastrous selections you make!

Tough Terminology

The phrases “framework”, “library” and “tool” can imply various things to totally different individuals at totally different occasions relying on the context. The overall definitions used right here:

Libraries

A library is an organized assortment of helpful performance. A typical library might embrace features to deal with strings, dates, HTML DOM parts, occasions, cookies, animations, community requests, and extra. Every perform returns values to the calling software which may be carried out nevertheless you select. Consider it like a number of automotive elements: you’re free to use any to assist assemble a working car however you should construct the engine your self.

Libraries usually present a better degree of abstraction which smooths over implementation particulars and inconsistencies. For instance, Ajax could be carried out utilizing the XMLHttpRequest API however this requires a number of strains of code and there are delicate variations throughout browsers. A library might present an easier ajax() perform so that you’re free to consider higher-level enterprise logic.

A library might reduce improvement time by 20% since you don’t have to fear concerning the finer particulars. The downsides:

  • a bug inside a library could be troublesome to find and repair
  • there’s no assure the event group will launch a patch shortly
  • a patch might change the API and incur vital modifications to your code.

Frameworks

A framework is an software skeleton. It requires you to strategy software program design in a selected method and insert your personal logic at sure factors. Performance similar to occasions, storage, and knowledge binding are usually offered for you. Utilizing the automotive analogy, a framework offers a working chassis, physique, and engine. You possibly can add, take away or tinker with some elements presuming the car stays operational.

A framework usually offers a better degree of abstraction than a library and will help you quickly construct the primary 80% of your challenge. The downsides:

  • the final 20% could be robust going in case your software strikes past the confines of the framework
  • framework updates or migrations may be troublesome – if not unattainable
  • core framework code and ideas not often age properly. Builders will all the time uncover a greater means to do the identical factor.

Tools

A software aids improvement however isn’t an integral a part of your venture. Tools embrace construct methods, compilers, transpilers, code minifiers, picture compressors, deployment mechanisms and extra.

Tools ought to present a neater improvement course of. For instance, many coders favor Sass to CSS as a result of it offers code separation, nesting, render-time variables, loops, and features. Browsers don’t perceive Sass/SCSS syntax so the code have to be compiled to CSS utilizing an applicable device earlier than testing and deployment.

Don’t Label Me!

The excellence between libraries, frameworks, and instruments is never clear. A framework might embrace a library. A library might implement framework-like strategies. Tools might be important for both. I’ve tried to label every venture however the scope can range.

If this sounds too difficult, you can contemplate coding vanilla JavaScript. That’s superb, however you’ll inevitably write your personal library and/or framework code which have to be maintained. JavaScript itself is an abstraction on a tower of browser and OS abstractions!

JavaScript Frameworks and Libraries

Tasks in approximate order of utilization/reputation/hype…

jQuery

jQuery stays the most-used JavaScript library ever created and is distributed with WordPress, ASP.NET and a number of different frameworks. It revolutionized client-side improvement by introducing CSS selector to DOM node retrieval plus chaining to apply occasion handlers, animations, and Ajax calls.

jQuery has fallen from developer favor in current years, however utilization stays excessive. It stays a viable choice for tasks which require a sprinkling of JavaScript performance.

Execs:

  • small distribution measurement
  • shallow studying curve, appreciable on-line assist
  • concise syntax
  • straightforward to prolong

Cons:

  • provides a velocity overhead to native APIs
  • much less important now that browser compatibility has improved
  • utilization has flat-lined
  • some business backlash towards pointless use.

React

React description
sort library
web site fb.github.io/react/
repository github.com/fb/react
GitHub stars 115,000+
present model 16.6.three
developer Fb and contributors
launch date March 2013
typical measurement 21kb min
typical use single-page purposes
utilization low

Maybe the most-talked about library of the previous few years, React claims to be a JavaScript library for constructing consumer interfaces. It focuses on the “View” a part of Mannequin-View-Controller (MVC) improvement and makes it straightforward to create UI elements which retain state. It was one of many first libraries to implement a digital DOM; the in-memory construction computes the variations and updates the web page effectively.

React utilization seems low in statistics maybe as a result of it’s used in purposes slightly than web sites. Virtually 70% of builders declare to have some expertise utilizing the library.

Execs:

  • small, environment friendly, quick and versatile
  • easy element mannequin
  • good documentation and on-line assets
  • server-side rendering is feasible
  • nonetheless well-liked and rising quick
  • loads of jobs promote for React builders

Cons:

  • new ideas and syntaxes to study
  • construct instruments are important
  • can require different libraries or frameworks to present the mannequin and controller features
  • may be incompatible with code and different libraries which modify the DOM

AngularJS 1.x

AngularJS description
sort framework
web site angularjs.org
repository github.com/angular/angular.js
GitHub stars 60,000+
present model 1.7.5
developer Google
launch date October 2010
typical measurement 144kb
typical use single-page purposes
utilization low

Angular is the primary framework – or MVC software framework – to seem on this record. The preferred version stays model 1.x which prolonged HTML with two-way data-binding whereas decoupling DOM manipulation from software logic.

Angular 1.x continues to be in improvement regardless of the discharge of model 2 (which is now model four!) Confused? See under…

Execs:

  • a well-liked framework adopted by a number of giant corporations
  • a single answer to produce trendy net purposes
  • a part of the “standard” MEAN stack (MongoDB, Categorical.JS, AngularJS, NodeJS) so many articles and tutorials can be found

Cons:

  • steeper studying curve than some options
  • giant code base
  • unimaginable to improve to Angular 2.x
  • regardless of being a Google undertaking, Google don’t seem to use it?

Angular 2+ (now 7.x)

Angular description
sort framework
web site angular.io
repository github.com/angular/angular
GitHub stars 43,000+
present model 7.1
developer Google
launch date September 2016
typical measurement 450kb min
typical use single-page purposes
utilization low

Angular 2.zero was launched in September 2016. It was an entire rewrite which launched a modular component-based mannequin created with TypeScript (which is compiled to JavaScript). So as to add to the confusion, model four.zero was launched in March 2017 (v3 was skipped to keep away from semantic model points).

Angular 2+ is radically totally different to v1. Neither is suitable with the opposite – maybe Google ought to have given the venture a unique identify?!

Execs:

  • a single answer to produce trendy net purposes
  • nonetheless a part of the MEAN stack though fewer Angular 2+ tutorials can be found
  • TypeScript offers some benefits to these acquainted with statically-typed languages corresponding to C# and Java.

Cons:

  • steeper studying curve than some options
  • giant code base
  • unattainable to improve from Angular 1.x
  • Angular 2.x has skilled comparatively low uptake in contrast to 1.x
  • regardless of being a Google challenge, Google don’t seem to use it?

Vue.js

Vue.js description
sort framework
web site vuejs.org
repository github.com/vuejs/vue
GitHub stars 120,000+
present model 2.5.17
developer Evan You
launch date February 2014
typical measurement 19kb min
typical use elements and single-page purposes
utilization low

Vue.js is a light-weight progressive framework for constructing consumer interfaces. The core provides a React-like digital DOM-powered view layer which might be built-in with different libraries however it’s also able to powering single-page purposes. The framework was created by Evan You who beforehand labored on AngularJS however needed to extract the elements he favored.

Vue.js makes use of an HTML template syntax to bind the DOM to occasion knowledge. Fashions are plain JavaScript objects which replace the view when knowledge is modified. Further instruments present amenities for scaffolding, routing, state administration, animations and extra.

Execs:

  • speedy adoption and growing reputation
  • easy to get began with excessive degree of developer satisfaction
  • light-weight, small dependency and good efficiency

Cons:

  • could be overshadowed by React
  • some reliance on a single developer for updates
  • fewer assets than options

Sencha Ext JS

Ext JS description
sort framework and element library
web site sencha.com/merchandise/extjs/
present model 6.6.zero
developer Sencha
launch date December 2007
typical measurement will depend on necessities: 85 – 500kb
typical use elements and single-page purposes
utilization low

Ext JS advanced from YUI-Ext and has one of many longest histories on this record. Though greatest recognized for its wide selection of configurable, accessible, cross-browser UI elements and knowledge visualisation instruments, Ext JS additionally supplies a framework for constructing full purposes. Alternatively, you should use the element library with React or Angular.

Ext JS is the one framework right here to supply business coaching and help. There are additionally choices to have the Sencha staff assist evaluate your code, automate testing, and migrate to different platforms.

Execs:

  • a variety of usable elements
  • accommodates every part required to create each net and cellular purposes
  • script customization, design instruments, and fast prototypes
  • offers instruments for visually constructing and styling net apps
  • business help and wonderful documentation
  • 30-day free trial and group version for smaller purposes (beneath $10,000 income per yr)

Cons:

  • integration with frameworks aside from React and Angular could also be impractical as of now — see roadmap plans for Ext JS 7
  • deep customized UI modifications could also be troublesome

Lodash and Underscore

Lodash description
sort library
web site lodash.com/
repository github.com/lodash/lodash/
GitHub stars 35,000+
present model four.17.11
developer John-David Dalton
launch date April 2012
typical measurement 4kb – 24kb min
typical use basic function
utilization low
Underscore description
sort library
web site underscorejs.org/
repository github.com/jashkenas/underscore
GitHub stars 24,000+
present model 1.eight.three
developer Jeremy Ashkenas
launch date October 2009
typical measurement 6kb min
typical use basic function
utilization low

Lodash and Underscore are mixed in this part as a result of they supply tons of of useful JavaScript utilities to complement native string, quantity, array and different primitive object strategies. There’s some overlap so you’re unlikely to require each libraries in a single undertaking.

Shopper-side utilization is low however both library may be adopted for server-side Node.js purposes.

Execs:

  • small and easy
  • straightforward to study with good documentation
  • suitable with most libraries and frameworks
  • doesn’t prolong built-in objects
  • can be utilized on the shopper or server

Cons:

  • some strategies can be found in ES2015 and later editions of JavaScript.

Spine.js

Spine.js description
sort framework
web site backbonejs.org
repository github.com/jashkenas/spine/
GitHub stars 37,000+
present model 1.three.three
developer Jeremy Ashkenas
launch date October 2010
typical measurement 8kb min
typical use single-page purposes
utilization low

Spine.js was one of many earliest client-side choices to present an MVC construction generally discovered in server-side frameworks. Its solely dependency is Underscore.js which was created by the identical developer.

Spine.js claims to be a library as a result of it may be built-in with different tasks. I think most builders think about it to be a framework, albeit much less opinionated than some others.

Execs:

  • small, light-weight and simpler
  • doesn’t add logic to HTML
  • nice documentation
  • adopted for a lot of purposes together with Trello, WordPress.com, LinkedIn and Groupon

Cons:

  • a decrease degree of abstraction than options reminiscent of AngularJS (though that might be thought-about a profit)
  • requires further elements to implement options resembling knowledge binding
  • newer frameworks have moved away from MVC architectures

Ember.js

Ember.js description
sort framework
web site emberjs.com
repository github.com/emberjs/ember.js
GitHub stars 20,000+
present model three.6.zero
developer Ember workforce
launch date December 2011
typical measurement 95kb min
typical use single-page purposes
utilization low

Ember.js is among the bigger opinionated frameworks which is predicated on a Mannequin-View-ViewModel (MVVM) sample. It implements templating, data-binding, and libraries in a single package deal. The convention-over-configuration ideas might be instantly acquainted to these with Ruby on Rails expertise.

Execs:

  • offers a single answer for client-side purposes
  • builders could be immediately productive – it makes use of jQuery
  • good backward compatibility and improve choices
  • has adopted trendy net improvement requirements

Cons:

  • giant distributable
  • thought-about monolithic in contrast to different frameworks that are shifting towards smaller element buildings
  • steep studying curve – it’s the Ember method or no means

Knockout.js

Knockout.js description
sort framework
web site knockoutjs.com
repository github.com/knockout/knockout
GitHub stars 9,000+
present model three.5.zero
developer Steve Sanderson
launch date July 2010
typical measurement 59kb min
typical use single-page purposes
utilization low

One of many older MVVM frameworks, Knockout.js makes use of observers to make sure the UI stays synchronized with underlying knowledge. It options templating and dependency monitoring.

Execs:

  • small and light-weight with no dependencies
  • wonderful browser help going again to IE6
  • good documentation

Cons:

  • bigger tasks can develop into complicated
  • improvement has slowed
  • utilization seems to be on the wane

Notable Mentions

Hungry for extra? The next tasks are much less common however value
contemplating:

  • Polymer – a library which allows cross-browser help for HTML5 net elements
  • Meteor – a full-stack platform for net purposes.
  • Aurelia – a light-weight, cross-platform framework
  • Svelte – a reasonably new venture which transforms framework supply code into vanilla-like JavaScript
  • Conditioner.js – a brand new library which routinely masses and unloads modules based mostly on state.

Tools: Common-Objective Process Runners

Construct instruments automate quite a lot of net improvement duties resembling pre-processing, compilation, module bundling, picture optimization, code minification, linting, and operating checks. Duties are often managed collectively in a single executable package deal. The preferred choices:

Webpack

Webpack helps all widespread module choices and has turn into synonymous with React improvement. Though claiming to be a module bundler, Webpack can be utilized as a general-purpose activity runner. JavaScript object-based configuration is usually a little awkward.Turbines can be found however some Webpack customers have been migrating to Parcel for simpler configuration and improved compilation occasions.

Gulp.js

Gulp.js description
web site gulpjs.com
repository github.com/gulpjs/gulp
GitHub stars 30,000+
present model four.zero.zero (three.9.1 nonetheless lively)
weekly downloads 750,000+

Whereas it was not the primary process runner, Gulp shortly turned one of the crucial widespread and is my private favourite. Gulp makes use of easy-to-read JavaScript code which masses supply information right into a stream and pipes the info by means of numerous plugins earlier than they’re output to a construct folder. It’s easy, quick and enjoyable, however builders have been migrating to Webpack.

npm

npm is the Node.js package deal supervisor however its scripts facility can be utilized for general-purpose activity operating. It’s a lovely choice for less complicated tasks with few dependencies. Nevertheless, extra complicated duties can quickly develop into impractical.

Grunt

Grunt was one of many first JavaScript process runners to obtain mass adoption however the velocity and difficult JSON configuration led to the rise of Gulp. The worst points have been resolved and Grunt stays a well-liked choice.

Tools: Module Bundlers

Managing various JavaScript information can develop into a chore. Until you’ll be able to undertake the comparatively new ES6 module import syntax natively, JavaScript dependencies in the browser have to be loaded or concatenated in an applicable order. A module bundler can be utilized in the event you want to help older browsers (something launched prior to 2018) however the want to use these instruments will diminish over time.

Browserify

Browserify helps CommonJS modules as utilized by Node.js to compile all modules right into a single browser-compatible file.

RequireJS

RequireJS began life an in-browser module loader though it may also be used in Node.js. It helps AMD syntax.

Tools: Linting

Linting analyses your code for potential errors or deviation from syntactical requirements. You’ll by no means miss a closing bracket or undeclared variable once more!

ESLint

ESLint is the preferred linting software supported by nearly all of IDEs, editors, bundlers, and activity runners. Each rule is a plugin so it may be configured to your liking.

JSHint

A versatile JavaScript linter which is much less configurable than ESLint however strikes a superb stability between real errors and pedantic syntactical calls for.

JSLint

One of many first linters and it implements a strict set of default guidelines. Improvement has slowed and it may be a bit uncompromising for some builders.

Tools: Check Suites

Check-Pushed-Improvement requires you to write code to check your code earlier than you begin writing it. You’re welcome to write code to check your check code too!

There are various choices together with Ava, Tape and Jasmine however the three hottest choices are presently…

Jest

A testing framework from Fb which has risen in reputation due to its shut connections with React and Webpack.

Mocha

Mocha can run checks in Node.js and a browser. It helps asynchronous testing and is usually paired with Chai to allow check code to be expressed in a readable type. It was the preferred choice for a number of years.

Jasmine

Jasmine is a behavior-driven check suite which may automate the testing your UI and interactions in a browser.

Tools: Miscellaneous

Regardless of my greatest efforts, I settle for not everybody loves JavaScript! Compilers akin to TypeScript, LiveScript and CoffeeScript could make your improvement life just a little extra pleasurable. Alternatively, think about Babel to rework trendy, concise ES2015 supply into cross-browser-compatible ES5 code.

There are dozens of JavaScript-powered HTML template engines together with Mustache, Handlebars, Pug (Jade) and EJS. I choose light-weight choices which retain JavaScript syntax akin to EJS and doT.

Lastly, why write your personal documentation when you possibly can automate it? ES2015-compatible documentation turbines embrace ESDoc, JSDoc, YUIdoc, documentation.js and Transcription.

Abstract and Suggestions

In the event you comply with the knowledge of crowds, momentum is at present behind React and different libraries are shifting in an analogous technical path. It’s a protected profession selection however you also needs to think about Vue.js or the React-compatible-but-smaller Preact.

Monolithic frameworks have fallen from favor however, do you have to require a strict construction for bigger tasks, AngularJS stays a well-liked choice. Nearly all of builders have caught with model 1.zero however that’s probably out of necessity than selection. Long run, model 2+ could possibly be a safer guess however you’ll need to study TypeScript.

Sencha’s Ext JS is a superb choice for corporations (small companies to enterprises) in search of an choice that features each a framework and pre-built, built-in elements and instruments, together with entry to business help. Ext JS additionally simply integrates its strong element library with React and Angular, for builders wanting to implement pre-built elements as opposed to constructing them on their very own.

Don’t low cost jQuery. It’s not fashionable and is never talked about in the technical press, nevertheless it’s actively developed and greater than succesful for web sites and purposes. jQuery has a shallow studying curve and is known by many builders worldwide.

In the event you’re feeling adventurous, new transpiler choices similar to Svelte and Rawact convert framework code to vanilla JavaScript. The framework dependency is eliminated, code is significantly smaller and runs quicker.

Tools selection is much less important and can range from undertaking to venture. Most WebPack, Gulp or npm scripts. You possibly can’t go far incorrect with ESLint and Jest for testing however there are many options to attempt.

That stated, each venture, workforce and talent set is totally different. You’ve gotten restricted time to make an evaluation so it’s tempting to use what you recognize. This text will obtain feedback recommending FrameworkX however the whole lot seems like a nail when you have got a hammer.

Lastly, always remember that libraries, frameworks, and instruments are non-compulsory! JavaScript improvement has been revolutionized in the course of the previous decade; we’ve gone from a couple of rudimentary helper libraries to an awesome selection. It’s straightforward to fall right into a lure of ever-increasing complexity or switching to the newest scorching framework each few months. All the time think about vanilla JavaScript – particularly for smaller and private private. The information you achieve can’t date and will develop into invaluable when evaluating frameworks for different tasks.

Have I missed, dismissed, or failed to reward the advantages your favourite JavaScript libraries, frameworks and instruments? In fact I’ve! Feedback welcome…