Every project in web development consists of great ideas, perfectly matched technologies, and the best team of available specialists. Making the right decisions always requires smooth adaptation of the most efficient and accurate development process to the needs of a specific client. From this article, you will learn what the most popular frontend frameworks are, what are their strong and weak sides, and how to select technology that will help your project shine like a diamond in 2021.
What are frontend frameworks?
To make sure we are on the same page, let us briefly explain at the very beginning what frontend and frontend frameworks are, and why it is so important to fit the optimal web development process for your business goals.
In software engineering, the frontend is the part of the IT systems displayed and operated in the user’s browser. It is responsible for displaying the relevant components and for communications with the server (which, for example, provides data). Simply put, frontend web developers are responsible for what you see on the screen of your computer or mobile device, and therefore, user interfaces and experience.
Due to increases in computing power, this generation of pages is now on the side of the user’s computer, rather than the server-side. As a result, more calculations (and UI-related logic) can work on the user’s CPU, without communicating with the server. And it is here that frontend developers operate. Frontend frameworks are tools that can make their work more pleasant providing ready-made components that one can use to build a web application, responsive UI, and implement logic related to displaying sets of features.
Additionally, the developers’ community related to frontend frameworks is quite large, therefore, there is often no need to write components from scratch; you’ll most likely be able to find and use appropriate controls, which saves time and money. Sounds good? So, let’s move on and get to know some of the most popular and the best frontend frameworks, and learn how they can help your business.
React—pros, cons, and when to use it?
What is React?
React pros and cons
The main advantage of this frontend framework is its component-oriented focus. It allows us to build small pieces of applications that can be reused in different places, saving time on implementation and building code that is easier to maintain. It is also easy to learn, and its virtual document object model (DOM) may speed up rendering of high-load systems. React is a library for building components, which makes it light and fast. It is also being developed very quickly, introducing a lot of news and improvements on a regular basis.
Depending on the situation, the last two points mentioned above may be disadvantages as well. Too many improvements mean that every time we start a new project, we have to check whether certain things are implemented differently in the current version. Using React may also require the use of external libraries, for example, if you want to implement API communication or component state management.
When to use React
React is primarily designed to build a user interface, especially in single-page applications. It will work well when we have a lot of dynamic components on the interface due to its stateful nature and the possibility of reusing elements.
Key Business Takeaways
React is a complete solution. Simple, easy to learn (e.g., using official documentation), intuitive, with an impressive developers’ community. It is commonly used by some of the top-named tech companies.
Angular—pros, cons, and when to use it?
What is Angular?
Probably number two among the most popular frontend frameworks of recent years. Just like React, Angular is a child of another technology giant—Google. It works best in building web and mobile applications. Its unique feature is two-way binding, which gives components in designed applications a way to share data. How does it work? Imagine a two-way binding of the model and the view, where each change on one side is reflected in the other. For example, changing the content of a textbox updates the text in the appropriate model property.
Angular pros and cons
Angular is a full-fledged framework, which means it is large and has a lot of built-in features. It may be an advantage, as it makes building the application much easier. On the other hand, the learning time is longer with Angular. Two-way binding associates the model and the view with each other, which might save time, as Angular developers do not have to do it, but it may also cause difficulties.
In the case of very dynamic applications with a lot of components, this can cause performance problems. We should also mention that this fronted framework uses TypeScript, giving all their users a great language advantage, e.g., with static type checking. What about cons? It’s much harder to learn than React.
When to use Angular
Angular is foremost worth using for large-scale projects, e.g., enterprise-class applications. Because they do not have a very extensive interface, developers are able to take full advantage of the built-in functionalities of this framework. Angular is recommended for experienced specialists, as it has quite a high entry threshold—developers need to learn the syntax of Angular (see official Angular documentation) and use its functionality and TypeScript.
Key Business Takeaways
Very comprehensive frontend framework, well designed for complicated tasks. It will work both in developing giant projects and in developing dynamic web apps.
Vue.js—pros, cons, and when to use it?
What is Vue.js?
Unlike React and Angular, Vue.js is not endorsed by any of the Silicon Valley giants. However, it was created by Evan You, a former Google employee. The idea behind Vue.js is quite simple: to design a simple and straightforward framework that combines the declarative nature of Angular data binding with a more accessible and easy-to-learn API. Evan put his idea into practice, crafting a progressive framework that is used to create small and large applications, with the advantages of various other frameworks such as annular data binding and a React approach to creating components.
Vue.js pros and cons
It is easy to learn as it has very good documentation (click here to learn more) and easy syntax. It is also relatively light compared to other frameworks, which makes it great for smaller applications. Like React, it uses a virtual document object model (DOM). We can use it to gradually rebuild components in older applications. It also has two-sided data binding, known from Angular.
There are some disadvantages with the fact that Vue.js is constantly evolving. Components available on the Internet are not yet as stable as for other frameworks. Furthermore, its largest community is in China, so the problem of finding ready-made solutions may also be a language barrier. Therefore, it’s not so popular yet.
When to use Vue.js
Vue.js will work best for building single-page applications in relatively small, flexible projects. Surely, in the case of larger ones, it will also handle it, but due to the stability of the components, it is better to stick to more proven solutions for commercial projects.
Key Business Takeaways
Simple, flexible, and versatile frontend framework with well-prepared docs making the learning process easier, well-crafted but mostly for one-page apps.
jQuery—pros, cons, and when to use it?
What is jQuery?
Another popular framework on the list is jQuery. Even though it’s the oldest of the four, it’s still a top choice for many programmers. It has been developed since 2006, and so, due to its long presence in the market, jQuery is supported by all popular browsers. It is also worth mentioning that the mobile version allows web programmers to build mobile apps.
jQuery pros and cons
However, when it comes to performance, such direct modifications are not the best option these days.
When to use jQuery
Nowadays, you will probably find jQuery mostly in older systems still being maintained, or in the projects of novice programmers. Although, for building more advanced interfaces, a better option would be choosing the other frameworks from the list. They are much faster and have more functionality.
Key Business Takeaways
Simple framework. Flexible and easy to learn for newbies (smooth official documentation). Simplicity plus ongoing development (e.g., for mobile apps) makes it still one of the most popular frontend frameworks.
How to choose the best frontend framework?Of course, there are many more frontend frameworks to choose from. Our choice of the four mentioned above is based not only on stats but also on our experience. Out of these four, the two most popular frontend frameworks right now are React and Angular. React is recommended for applications with extensive user interfaces, while Angular, on the other hand, works best when you need to build the frontend part of the application from scratch. However, it is worth watching the development of Vue.js, because it is still in the growth phase and may soon be strong competition for the big two. Which frontend framework would be the best for your project? Well, it depends on many factors including:
- the project scope: whether it is a small-scale app or a big web development project;
- popularity, and therefore, the availability of developers that know it or will learn it;
- the time needed to implement a specific solution, which will vary depending on the selected technology.