Angular App Development React

Top 5 JavaScript frameworks for 2020

Choosing the right JavaScript framework from the plethora of available platforms is a tedious task. Here, we focus on the frameworks for client-side development. Our top choices include React, Angular 2 (or higher), Vue, Backbone, and Ember. We included JS libraries – React and Vue, and Backbone, which also only partially implements the Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture. 

Angular, Backbone, React, Vue, and Ember all adhere to the latest JavaScript ES6+ specification. Also, each of them has ecosystems. Let’s review each of these frameworks/libraries.

React

React supports a reactive approach and a functional programming paradigm. While using React, it is necessary to understand a component-based architecture, JSX, and unidirectional data flow. Flux implements the unidirectional data flow.

React-based applications have multiple components. 

 -A single component file contains both business logic and HTML markup (which is actually a JSX markup that’s transformed into JavaScript functions). 

For communication between components – either Flux or a similar JS library can be used. React also introduced special objects, state, and props. Using the state and props objects, you can simply pass data from a component to the layout (using the state object) or from a parent component to a child component (using the props object).

React prompted the development of additional tools to reach high flexibility. For example, instead of Flux, MobX, Redux, Fluxy, Fluxible, or RefluxJS – this list is not exhaustive. The same goes for HTTP libraries: React works well with jQuery AJAX, fetch API, Superagent, and Axios, to name a few.

Even though flexibility is an advantage, React has issues because of its flexibility. When there are many additional libraries to choose from, you face the dilemma of what exactly you should use with React – wasting a lot of time trying to figure out the best options. Basically, a solid development workflow is missing in React. 

React tries to set industry standards. For example, Redux is considered the best and only library for enterprise-level React apps. At the same time, Redux can seriously slow down development performance. Redux complicates your work while implementing a new feature and have to change too many things throughout the entire app. Bringing us back to the same dilemma: should we choose a simpler library?

Building your own workflow with React is quite difficult compared to other JS frameworks. Most of the other frameworks have plenty of inbuilt tools to help you with this. 

The React ecosystem is comprised of:

  • React library itself plus React-DOM for DOM manipulation.
  • React-router for implementing routes.
  • JSX, a special markup language that mixes HTML into JavaScript.
  • React Create App, a command line interface to set up a React project rapidly.
  • Axios and Redux-based libraries, JS libraries to let you organize communication with the backend.
  • React Developer Tools for Chrome and Firefox browsers.
  • React Native for development of native mobile applications for iOS and Android.
  • React library scheme

The bottom line: React is a popular JavaScript framework, it could be your first choice for creating an advanced user interface. Always go through plenty of React tools to build a workflow for yourself.

Angular ( Angular 2 and higher)

Angular changed it from a Model-View-MVC Architecture to a component-based architecture. Angular has become very modular. If previously, you could insert a link to the AngularJS library in the main HTML file, now you can install separate modules. You can avoid installing some Angular modules, for example, @angular/forms or @angular/http, if you don’t need them. This Angular flexibility is commendable. With the newest version of Angular coming up, here are the new features in Angular 9.

  1. Added undecorated class migration schematic in the core.
  2. The form ControlName also accepts a number in the form
  3. Now allow selector-less directives as base classes in View Engine in the compiler.
  4. Added support selector-less directive as base classes in Ivy and also made the Ivy compiler the default for ngc.
  5. Convert all ngtsc diagnostics to ts.Diagnostics

While building an application with Angular, you break your app up into multiple components with nested, or child, components. Each Angular component is broken into three files. The business logic for a component is written in the main file, whereas the layout and styles related to this component are written in the other two files.

Apart from Angular components, you have to get used to services, the dependency injection framework (React doesn’t have dependency injection), and directives (special HTML attributes). In the simplest terms, Angular has a prescribed way to design frontend apps, unlike React. Angular has a couple of additional challenges. You need to use TypeScript to ensure type safety in Angular apps which could be unpleasant to work with. 

Angular’s ecosystem includes:

  • Series of modules that you can selectively install for Angular projects: @angular/common, @angular/compiler, @angular/core, @angular/forms, @angular/http, @angular/platform-browser, @angular/platform-browser-dynamic, @angular/router, and @angular/upgrade.
  • TypeScript and CoffeeScript, supersets of JavaScript that can be used with Angular.
  • Angular command line interface for quick project setup.
  • Zone.js, a JS library used to implement zones, otherwise called execution context, in Angular apps.
  • RxJS and the observable pattern for asynchronous communication with server-side apps.
  • Angular Augury, a special Chrome extension used for debugging Angular apps.
  • Angular Universal, a project aimed at creating server-side apps with Angular.
  • NativeScript, a mobile framework for developing native mobile applications for iOS and Android platforms.

The bottom line: Comparing Angular with React is questionable as Angular is a complete framework with all the tools a modern JavaScript developer needs. Choose Angular if you don’t like to choose among additional libraries as with React. The competition between Angular 2 vs React is very intense now.

Check our extensive comparison on this

Vue

Vue library might look like a mix of Angular and React. Evan You, the creator of Vue, borrowed concepts from Angular and React. Vue lets you store component logic and layouts along with stylesheets in one file. That’s how React works without stylesheets. To let Vue components talk to each other, it uses props and state objects. This approach existed in React before Vue adopted it.

Vue lets you mix HTML layouts with JavaScript similar to that of Angular. You have to use Vue directives such as v-bind or v-if to interpolate values from the component logic to templates.

One of the reasons why Vue is worth considering instead of React is because of the Redux library – it is often used in large-scale React applications. As explained in the React section, when a React+Redux app grows bigger, you’ll spend a lot of time applying small changes to multiple files instead of actually working on features. The Vuex library – a Flux-like state management tool designed for Vue – seems less unwieldy than Redux.

As for the choice between Vue and Angular, the reasons to opt for Vue over Angular can be reduced to the following: Angular is an over-complicated, full-fledged framework with a restrictive nature; Vue is much simpler and less restrictive than Angular. Vue doesn’t force you to learn another superset of JavaScript like TypeScript (for Angular) or JSX (for React). As a result, the learning curve is less steep with Vue than it is with Angular and React.

One of the downsides of Vue is that it’s still much less popular than either React or Angular. As a result, Vue has far fewer ready solutions, so you may have to think about creating your own solutions to solve various issues.

The VueJS ecosystem consists of:

  • Vue as a view library.
  • Vue-loader for components.
  • Vuex, a dedicated library for managing application state with Vue; Vuex is close in concept to Flux.
  • Vue.js devtools for Chrome and Firefox.
  • Axios and vue-resource for communication between Vue and the backend.
  • Nuxt.js, a project tailored to creating server-side applications with Vue; Nuxt.js is basically a competitor to Angular Universal.
  • Weex, a JS library that supports Vue syntax and is used for mobile development.

The bottom line: Vue is extremely close in terms of its workflow to other frameworks. We might opt for Vue because it is less complicated than React and Angular 2+. On the other hand, having a solid framework (Angular) or a solid choice of libraries (React and its ecosystem) outweighs simplicity by a huge margin when developing enterprise-level apps.

Ember

Ember is one of the oldest JavaScript framework, just like Backbone and AngularJS – but it is still in use. Ember lets you implement component-based applications, just like Angular, React, and Vue does. In fact, Ember has inspired many other JavaScript frameworks. For instance, Vue’s router library borrowed ideas from Ember router.

Ember is often considered as one of the most difficult JavaScript frameworks for frontend web development. Ember has a relatively intricate architecture, which, nevertheless, will allow you to quickly build huge client-side applications. It realizes a typical MVC JavaScript framework, and Ember’s architecture comprises the following parts: adapters, components, controllers, helpers, models, routes, services, templates, utils, and addons.

Ember framework scheme:

Every part of Ember has a narrow focus. For example, Ember helpers are used to manipulate data before rendering them to the screen. Ember components are used to store logic for the app, and various buttons to manipulate the view are stored in components.

One of Ember’s best features is its command line interface tool. The Ember CLI helps you be very productive: you can not only create new projects with ready setups, but also create components, controllers, and other project files from the terminal using automatic generation – and even install third-party dependencies. 

The EmberJS ecosystem includes:

  • The actual Ember.js library and Ember Data, a data management library.
  • Ember server for development environments, built into the framework.
  • Handlebars, a template engine designed specifically for Ember applications.
  • QUnit, a testing JavaScript framework used with Ember.
  • Ember CLI, a highly advanced command line interface tool for quick prototyping and managing Ember dependencies.
  • Ember Inspector, a development tool for Chrome and Firefox.
  • Ember Observer, public storage where various addons are stored. Ember addons are used for Ember apps to implement generic functionalities.

The bottom line: The Ember framework is prescriptive and is a direct competitor to Angular. You can even consider Ember the equivalent of Ruby on Rails for the browser. It feels, though, that Ember is very underrated. If you need a cutting-edge framework to develop complex client-side apps, Ember is close to the best and only choice.

Backbone/Marionette

Backbone is an MVC framework, it partly implements an MVC architecture, as Backbone’s View part carries out the responsibilities of the Controller. Backbone has only one strong dependency – the Underscore library that gives us many helper functions for convenient cross-browser work with JavaScript. 

Unlike many other full-fledged JavaScript frameworks, Backbone attempts to reduce complexity to avoid performance issues. More specifically, you won’t get performance problems because of two-way data binding or built-in loops like in AngularJS.

Backbone’s architecture consists of the following parts:

  • Backbone.View, the view part of Backbone apps; Backbone views implement component logic (how model data is rendered to the browser) similarly to a Controller in MVC; you can bind views and models so that the view will change whenever model data is altered. Backbone view can use a third-party templating engines like Mustache and Underscore.js.
  • Backbone.Model let us structure app data, change data via set/get methods, listen for events, and validate data.
  • Backbone.Collection, which are simply arrays of similar models; for example, if your app has different types of users, each user type will be represented by a separate model, and all user models can be iterated over in Backbone collections (arrays).
  • Backbone.Events, a class that lets us implement and use events, both custom and built-in, and bind various events to Backbone models, collections, routes, and views.
  • Backbone.Router, an interface that maps URLs to different components of an app; Backbone’s router depends on the history object to work with browser history.
  • Backbone REST, a simple API that we can use to synchronize the frontend and backend – more specifically, to request persistent model data and collections from the server.
  • Backbone gives us a basic structure made of the components listed above.

All the parts of Backbone may not be sufficient to develop an advanced client-side app. Put another way, Backbone is almost always used with additional JavaScript libraries. One reason for pairing Backbone with an additional JS library lies on the surface: Backbone’s view layer can’t render itself to the DOM. This is where Marionette and Thorax come into play: they let us render Backbone views to the DOM.

The BackboneJS ecosystem contains:

  • The Backbone library, which consists of events, models, collections, views, and router; Backbone views aren’t necessary if you’re using Marionette.
  • Underscore.js, a JavaScript library with several dozen helper functions that you can use to write cross-browser JavaScript.
  • Underscore’s microtemplating engine for Backbone templates; instead of it, you can use other template engines such as Mustache and jQuery-tmpl.
  • BackPlug, an online repository with a lot of ready solutions (Backbone plugins) tailored for Backbone-based apps.
  • Backbone generator, a CLI for creating Backbone apps.
  • Marionette, Thorax, and Chaplin – JS libraries that allow you to develop a more advanced architecture for Backbone apps.

The bottom line: Backbone is a relatively easy framework that implements many things for quick development of SPAs. But to use Backbone to the fullest extent, you’ll have to choose additional tools: Marionette, Thorax, or Chaplin; Handlebars or Mustache; etc. In most cases, however, the Backbone, Marionette, and Mustache bundle will do the job. You should also understand the MVC architecture at a high level to get the most out of Backbone.

Which JavaScript framework should I choose?

Our recommendation for JavaScript frameworks is to learn the working of the following: React, Angular, Ember, Backbone (with Marionette), and Vue. React and Angular get support from Facebook and Google respectively, making them highly reliable with future updates and many added features. As for Ember, although it is underrated, we think that it’s best for super-advanced client-side apps. Vue gives a relatively new approach to client-side development. If you have a firm understanding of how to build application architecture, you should consider Backbone which gives you immense flexibility.

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