Having access to a wide range of frameworks is great because you have more choice, but picking the right ones to learn can be intimidating. After all, not all frameworks were created equal, so you need to know which one fits best for you.
Consider building a house. When you build one, instead of starting everything from scratch, you would typically rely on blueprints and kits before kicking off construction. One blueprint would set out how the living room should be structured and another may define the scaffolding you would need to build the house.
These frameworks provide you with “blueprints” that you can use to build your applications. To illustrate their popularity, consider this graph:
According to npm trends, which tracks the popularity of packages on the package manager npm, React.js is the most popular framework, followed by Vue, Backbone, Angular, then Ember.
The React framework uses a reactive approach and embraces the principles of functional programming. This means the framework uses data streams like events, messages, and calls to communicate data.
One of the major benefits of React is its flexibility. The language uses a component-based architecture called JSX, which gives you control over how content appears on a web page. In addition, the React ecosystem has invested heavily in building additional tools that make React even more powerful. As a result, there is no shortage of plugins to enhance your applications.
The React project is maintained by Facebook and the popularity it has received over the last few years means that there is plenty of documentation and tutorials out there that you can use to master the framework. In addition, React also pairs with a framework called React Native, which allows you to use React for developing mobile applications.
The Vue framework was built upon many of the principles that made React and Angular great.
One of the biggest reasons to learn Vue is that the framework does not come with a build step. Unlike frameworks like React, you don’t need to use additional tools to build a powerful application using Vue. All you need to do is use a script tag and point to the latest Vue release to use it in your applications.
That’s not all, Vue also comes with an efficient command-line interface, which makes it easy to manage the development of your applications. Vue also has a strong ecosystem of third-party libraries to give you more features for your applications. For example, the Vuex library exists for state management.
Vue is also seen by developers to be beginner-friendly. This is likely because it is built with React and Angular in mind, which means that the developers have taken into account the deficiencies of these frameworks in crafting Vue. Vue’s developer community is also strong and so you should have no trouble finding high-quality framework documentation.
The Angular framework was built based on the Model-View-Controller (MVC) concept, although the authors of the framework have often referred to it as “Model-View-Whatever”, which refers to the flexibility of the framework.
Today, Angular embraces a component-based architecture, which has created a more modular development environment. This means when you build an Angular application, you can break up your site into components, such as a menu bar or a footer. Then, the logic for each of these components is written in separate files while another file determines the layout of the page.
One of the main reasons Angular became popular was that it makes effectively structuring your code easy. When you use Angular to its fullest effect, there is usually no barrage of classes and methods that you need to worry about maintaining. Angular’s component structure is simple, easy to navigate, and makes it easy to debug and test your code.
There are two main versions of Angular. The first version, Angular, used the MVC architecture we spoke about earlier. The second version, which is now incredibly popular, uses the new component-based architecture. While Angular is not perfect – for instance, you almost need to use TypeScript to use all the features in Angular – it is still a great framework for building powerful web applications.
The main advantage of the Backbone framework is that it syncs well with the back-end of a web application. Without having to integrate any external libraries, you can use Backbone to easily interact with RESTful APIs, which is a crucial part of developing modern web applications.
In addition, Backbone offers event-driven communication between models and views, which allows you to be more precise when sharing data between parts of an application.
The Backbone framework is often used to develop Single Page Applications (SPAs), given its lightweight nature and versatility.
However, if you want to build a larger-scale application, Backbone has a number of deficiencies. Perhaps the main one is that Backbone typically needs to be used with other technologies, like Handlebars, Thorax, or Mustache, to reach its potential. So, while Backbone may come with a number of out-of-the-box features, there’s more learning required if you want to build more advanced applications.
Ember.js is a framework built on the value of completing tasks.
The Ember.js framework is said to “help developers be more productive out of the box”. The framework was designed with the developer experience in mind, which has resulted in features that make the framework particularly powerful.
Ember allows you to use a component-based architecture in your applications similar to Angular and React and many frameworks have borrowed features from Ember over the years.
With that said, Ember does come with several advantages. First, Ember has adopted many built-in best practices which allow you to write high-quality code without having to worry about learning a list of best practices. This is a direct result of the active developer community that surrounds Ember, who actively works to make using the framework a pleasurable experience for developers.
Also, Ember has a strong command-line interface that makes it easy to not only create new projects, but also generate components, views, and other parts of your web application. Angular’s command-line interface was based on Ember’s.
If you’re looking to build complex and scalable client-side apps, Ember is a great choice.
Which Framework Should I Learn?
You may be thinking: “You’ve just walked through a list of frameworks, but which of them should I learn?” That’s a great question!
The answer is that it’s up to you which framework you want to learn. The one you choose should be based on your unique needs and long-term goals.