A common question all web developers ask is: “What is the most popular web development framework?” We have done the hard work of analyzing the data and formulating an answer below.
We have broken down the top front end and backend web development frameworks based on our analyses of the following categories.
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- Job openings that mention a framework, according to LinkedIn.
- The average salary earned by people who know a particular framework, according to PayScale.
- The number of repositories that appear in a GitHub search for a language.
- The number of question threads on Stack Overflow.
- The number of people who have downloaded the framework, according to npm trends. Note that npm trends only measures front end frameworks, so backend frameworks are excluded from this category.
We collected data from LinkedIn, PayScale, GitHub, Stack Overflow, and npm trends between April 7th and April 23rd, 2021, and we found that:
- On LinkedIn, React.js is the most in-demand front end framework, and Node.js is the most in-demand backend framework.
- On Stack Overflow, jQuery is tagged in more questions than any other front end framework, and Node.js is tagged in more questions than any other backend framework.
- On GitHub, React.js is the most used front end framework, and Node.js is the most used backend framework.
- According to PayScale, Backbone.js is the highest-earning front end framework, and Ruby on Rails is the highest-earning backend framework.
- On npm, React.js, jQuery, and Bootstrap are the three most-downloaded front end frameworks.
Top Web Frameworks by Job Openings on LinkedIn
We studied data from LinkedIn to find the number of job openings associated with various front end and backend web frameworks. Our search used a filter to ensure only job openings posted in the last month were included in our study, which gives us a more up-to-date idea of which web frameworks are in demand. We filtered our search further to ensure only job openings from the United States were displayed.
Below are the most popular web frameworks by job openings, according to data from LinkedIn.
|Framework||Jobs on LinkedIn in Last Month||Framework||Jobs on LinkedIn in Last Month|
The data we collected shows React.js is the most in-demand front end framework in the job market by far. In fact, there are more jobs that mention React.js than there are for the other ten front end frameworks on our list combined. Thus, it is clear React.js is in significantly higher demand than the other front end frameworks on our list.
In total, six of the frameworks on our front end list are mentioned in at least 1,000 job openings. No matter which of these frameworks you learn, you are likely to be able to find a job opportunity that matches your needs and long-term goals.
Our data shows that Node.js is the most popular backend framework, with 16,624 job ads mentioning Node.js in the month leading up to the date of our data collection. Five other frameworks — Spring Boot, ASP.NET, Ruby on Rails, Django, and Flask — were mentioned in at least 1,000 jobs on LinkedIn.
As of April 23rd, 2021, there were 11,088 web developer jobs posted on LinkedIn in the previous month. A developer proficient in any of the above frameworks would be qualified for a job in web development. A developer proficient in a particular front end or backend framework would also be qualified for a job directly related to the framework they know.
This suggests that while there are many employment opportunities for web developers in general, learning a framework tends to increase the number of jobs to which you could apply. However, the exact number of jobs open to you after learning a framework depends on the framework you learn and whether you meet the other minimum requirements for those jobs.
Key Takeaway: React.js is far and away the most in-demand front end framework on the job market and Node.js is the most in-demand backend framework on the job market.
Top Web Frameworks by Salary on PayScale
Employers are often willing to pay well to secure talented people who know how to use top web frameworks. However, some frameworks pay better than others. To find out a bit more about which frameworks pay the best, we turned to PayScale, a website that aggregates salary information for various jobs and skills.
We could only find PayScale information for six front end and seven backend frameworks. The top five for each category are listed in the table below.
|Framework||Average Salary on PayScale||Framework||Average Salary on PayScale|
Backbone.js ranks highest in our list of top front end frameworks by salary, followed closely by React.js. In terms of backend frameworks, Ruby on Rails commands a strong lead, followed by Node.js.
For context, the average web developer in the United States earned $60,023 as of April 8th, 2021, according to PayScale. Learning any of the frameworks above will thus have a clear positive impact on your earning potential and job prospects.
Key Takeaway: All of the five top front end and backend frameworks pay better, on average, than the minimum skills required to become a web developer. Evidently, some frameworks appear to be better compensated in the labor market than others, though the differences may not be statistically significant.
Top Web Frameworks by GitHub Repository Count
A key factor to consider when deciding on a framework to learn is whether there is plenty of existing code written using that framework. Over 59 million people have an account on GitHub, a platform used for code sharing and management. Given this, GitHub is a good indicator of how many people are using or have used a particular framework in the past.
We used GitHub’s “language” search feature to determine how many repositories were tagged with the front end and backend frameworks that we chose to study in this paper. Below are the top web frameworks by GitHub repository count.
|Framework||GitHub Repositories||Framework||GitHub Repositories|
React.js leads by a massive amount when it comes to the number of repositories that use the front end frameworks on our list. React.js is featured in more repositories than Angular.js, Vue.js, Bootstrap, jQuery, and Gatsby combined. There is a big gap between the number of repositories that came up in our search for React.js and Angular.js, the second framework on the front end list.
We can see a great gap between the first and second most popular backend frameworks, too. There are over 600,000 more projects that come up in a search for Node.js on GitHub than come up in a search for Django. With that said, the gap between the top two frameworks on our backend list is not nearly as dramatic as the gap on our front end list.
Key Takeaway: Six of the front end frameworks on our list were featured in over 100,000 repositories and eight of the ten backend frameworks on our top 10 list were featured in over 100,000 repositories. All of the other backend and front end frameworks in our top 10 list were featured in at least 10,000 repositories.
Top Web Frameworks by Stack Overflow Questions
Web developers always have questions they need answered or bugs they need to fix. A go-to source for help is Stack Overflow, a Q&A platform for programmers.
The more people who write questions and answers on Stack Overflow about the framework you are learning, the easier it will be to find solutions to problems or answers to questions.
Below are the top front end and backend web frameworks according to Stack Overflow.
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|Framework||Stack Overflow Questions||Framework||Stack Overflow Questions|
jQuery is way ahead of the other web development frameworks on our front end rankings. There are more questions tagged to the jQuery framework than there are to all of the other front end frameworks on our list combined.
On the backend, Node.js is first on our list, followed by ASP.NET. Six technologies are discussed in over 100,000 threads. We can see that the number of Stack Overflow questions for the frameworks on our top 10 list is more evenly spread out than our front end list.
Even less-used web frameworks like Semantic UI and Svelte have a community, but it may be harder to find answers to your questions without consulting a developer confident in the language you are learning or without looking more extensively at documentation.
Key Takeaway: All of the backend and front end frameworks on our top 10 lists have dedicated Stack Overflow community discussions, but some frameworks are discussed significantly more than others. Six backend frameworks are tagged in at least 100,000 threads and three front end frameworks are tagged in at least 100,000 threads. jQuery was tagged in 1,013,818 threads and is thus the most discussed front end framework on Stack Overflow.
Top Front End Frameworks by npm Downloads
The tool “npm trends” uses data from npm to show how many times each package on npm has been downloaded. Using this tool, which only features data on front end frameworks, we calculated the popularity of various front end web development frameworks.
You can view the npm trends dashboard we created for our analysis, which accounted for data as of April 11th, 2021 at the time of writing. Because npm trends only displays ten inputs at a time, our data is limited to the ten most frequently downloaded frameworks.
We fed the names of the remaining ten front end frameworks in our analysis into the npm trends tool to find out which frameworks have been downloaded the most. Below are our findings.
|Framework||Number of Downloads on March 28th, 2021|
Source: npm trends
Key Takeaway: All of the frameworks on the list above aside from Semantic UI were downloaded at least 100,000 times on April 11th, 2021. This demonstrates that most of the top 10 frameworks we tracked on the npm trends dashboard are incredibly well used, though some more than others.
Conclusion: The Most Popular Web Development Frameworks
In total, eight frameworks appeared on all of our top ten front end rankings (aside from the salaries ranking, which was limited to five frameworks). These frameworks were, in no particular order:
We expected React, jQuery, Angular, Vue.js, and Bootstrap to feature on our rankings because these technologies come up often in any discussion about web frameworks. More surprising is the fact that Backbone.js, Gatsby, and Svelte featured on all of our lists.
This shows that there are other frameworks out there that are popular but are maybe not as popular as the larger frameworks. The more popular a framework is, the more likely you are to find learning resources and documentation you can use to further your learning. For example, you can learn Laravel, a fantastic PHP framework that provides expressive and elegant syntax.
You are also more likely to find a solution to a problem you have with a framework in a timely manner if there is a large community. This is because someone has likely experienced a similar issue to the one you have and documented it. If an issue is not documented, you should have no trouble finding an answer by asking developers who have worked with the framework you are using.
Nine backend technologies featured in all of our backend rankings, which were:
- Spring Boot
These frameworks are built in a range of programming languages. For instance, Rails is built with Ruby, Flask is built with Python, and Spring Boot is built with Java. This shows that across languages there are many widely used options for building the backend of websites.
There is no “best framework” to learn. Ultimately, the framework you decide to learn should be based on which framework you enjoy using the most and which framework serves your particular needs.
If you want to be a front end web developer, you should prioritize learning a front end framework. If you want to earn a high salary as a front end developer, learning a tool like React.js or jQuery is a good idea. On the other hand, if you want to be a backend web developer and like using Ruby on Rails, that might be the best skill for you to focus on.
Although some frameworks are in higher demand than others, learning any of the web development frameworks we studied in this report will have some impact on your career. For instance, while it is much easier to find a job that seeks Bootstrap or React.js skills, it is possible to find a job that requires Gatsby knowledge.
Because so many web frameworks are in demand, you have the freedom to explore. Try out a few of the front end or backend frameworks we mentioned in this report, depending on which side of the web stack you are interested in, and see which one you like best. From there, you can make a more informed decision about which framework you want to devote your time to learning in greater depth.
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