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Top JavaScript Frameworks for Building Web Applications

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As a developer, you will find solace with JavaScript Frameworks. Instead of memorizing and writing code, you can include the libraries from the framework and breathe a sigh of relief. Instead of worrying about concatenating numerous lines of code, you can focus your time and energies on developing awesome interactive elements for your apps.

Now when we think of JavaScript libraries, the first name that comes to mind is jQuery. This library is the oldest, classiest of all things JavaScript. It is the precursor to today’s high-end, cutting-edge JS frameworks. Most of them include parts from or the entirety of jQuery library. But we’re not talking jQuery.

And it doesn’t mean the newer players on the field have nothing to offer. Here’s a list of 10 most used JS frameworks for web-app development, along with the reasons why they amassed their fan followings.

AngularJS

AngularJS is open-source web application development framework introduced in 2009 by Google.

AngualrJS is for dynamic web apps what HTML is for static web pages. It basically extends HMTL, and offers extremely robust features, such as deep linking and client side form validation, without the requirement of additional JavaScript code.

While it was (and still is) received with some skepticism, it has quickly won hearts with all the features it packs. You can develop new HTML elements, use ‘components’ to create and save code snippets for later use. And it tests, tests, tests like nobody’s business.

It’s the coolest kid in town. It’s armed to the teeth with features (data-binding, debugging, automatic DOM manipulation, I can go on and on) and has a growing community of very helpful users and contributors.

However, it is also pretty difficult to learn, thanks to the entirely new vernacular (see: directives, components, injections, etc.) which can be terrifying to rookies.

Despite all that, it is unquestionably the most used JavaScript framework.


ReactJS 

ReactJS is a beautiful JavaScript framework released in 2013 by Instagram and Facebook. Once you have brought the eyebrows down, take a look at features.

This JS framework allows you to build complicated and large-scale dynamic apps with ease. How much ease? We’re talking first-class rendering of high-performing (and complicated) UIs. It does put the V in MVC. What else do you expect from the brainchild of Instagram and Facebook?

It has an ace up its sleeve that can dwarf the disappointment from lack of two-way data binding. Remember how JavaScript was quickly becoming server-side language with node.js? Well, React is one of the two frameworks that will develop (isomorphic) apps (same JS code for client-side and server-side). This means no separate code, and apps that are easier to handle and manipulate. Imagine the possibilities.

React’s popularity is growing fast, especially considering it only got here two years ago.

Apart from the slight unhappy feelings over data-binding, React is progressive and a clear trend-setter.


Ember

Ember’s following will be reaching occult levels soon.

This is one of the more popular MVC JavaScript frameworks. It was initially released in 2011 as open source JS framework. You can develop rich and interactive web applications with ease.

In the field of two-way data binding, Ember scores just as well as Angular. The Handlebar automated real-time updates are such a nice touch. It also does a top-notch job at server-side DOM rendering (Fastboot.js module): the same module used by Facebook’s React.

Overall, Ember compares favorably to Angular. It has a sizeable developer community. It favors simplicity and ease-of-use like Angular too.

It does have certain advantages over Angular: it’s not as difficult to learn (borrows liberally from previous JS libraries/ frameworks), and no dirty checking / binding bottleneck issues either (bind away as much as you need).

For large apps, you can’t go wrong with Ember.


BackboneJS

BackboneJS is used by Walmart, Pinterest, Twitter, Hulu, Pandora Radio, etc.

This is one very aptly named framework. You strip all the bells-and-whistles from popular JS frameworks and you get Backbone. It’s short and simple, not to mention one of the best frameworks for single page web apps you can find.

It has no two-way bindings and you will probably have to throw yourself into exhaustive research if you choose this stripped-bare tool to develop a large/ complex app. The framework itself weighs 20kb, but adding dependencies from other libraries will obviously add to the size.

Backbone will remind you a lot of jQuery, with its huge community and many, many plugins and extensions.

It’s good if you want hands-on experience with all aspects of app-development. It’s great for simple apps for beginners. Experienced developers can still create some pretty fantastic apps with it. But we have more feature-packed options in the race and we’re spoilt for choices already.


KnockoutJS

KnockoutJS is a great open-source JavaScript Framework that works with MVVM model. It is developed on plain JavaScript, without any external dependencies.

It is cute and lightweight. It is especially proficient at data binding. It’s easy to use and get started.

Knockout serves well for single page applications, especially as a library (see: DurandalJS). It has a community, but not as vast as any of the frameworks mentioned above.

If you value simplicity and a return-to-basics, old-school (no server-side scripting on your part) feel, go for Knockout. You’ll have an easier time developing an app that’s not difficult to look after, change, and maintain.


Skel

Skel is a clean JavaScript framework.

It is ideal for building web applications and responsive websites. It comes with a CSS grid system, breakpoints, and offers some fantastic features, such as API functions and normalization of browser styles.

That’s pretty neat for a framework whose name apparently meant ‘criminal’ back in the 40’s.


Meteor.js

MeteorJS offers all the features that any developer needs for front-end rendering, back-end development, and database management.

This framework gives you flexibility and tools to create fully-functional production apps.

The server side packages work in the node.js, so you don’t need anything but MeteorJS packages to open the database. Modifications in the database are imitated back on the UI without the confusion between different languages.


Polymer.js

PolymerJS was released in 2013 by Google.

It uses the concept of web components with an objective to extend HTML capabilities. If that reminds you of Angular, it’s intentional.

Polymer gives superpowers and structure to custom HTML elements.


Aurelia.Js

AureliaJS is a next-gen JS framework for mobile and web applications.

The best thing about Aurelia is that it is highly modularized and packs quite a few independent smaller libraries.

Developers can take their pick from those libraries to create their own customized framework.


Vue.js

Vue.js is new. And it is gaining popularity among the web developers.

This framework works with MVVM design paradigm. It has data-reactive components with easy and compatible API.

Vue is leveraged by AngularJS, ReactJS, and other advanced frameworks.


 

A final glance

Here are some graphic interpretations of popularity and usage stats of frameworks mentioned above.

The Above Data is Generated from Google Trends.

Conclusion

I hate to end this with a cliché, but eventually no framework is better or worse. It depends on what you need and want out of it.

The communities are just added bonuses.

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