The Frontend Debate: Which framework/library is the best for your project?

Current state of the Frontend Ecosystem

The IT industry is well-known for being one of the most dynamic, and with good reason as new solutions, tools, libraries, frameworks, and methods arrive on the horizon every day, capturing the attention of programmers all around the world. This is especially true for backend technologies, where trends change often. To stay up to speed and develop your backend arsenal, it's critical to monitor yearly reports and trend forecasts.
However, what about the frontend? It would be unfair to suggest that the customer-facing side of programming remains unchanged. Some frontend technologies, on the other hand, haven't changed much over time and have long been favored by the IT community where battle-tested ,JS-fueled solutions have indeed dominated the frontend landscape in recent years.

Stabilization is a good word to use to describe the present level of frontend development. Three important technologies have consolidated their dominance: React, Angular, and Vue.js. Of course, some newcomers come knocking on our door, such as Gatsby or Svelte, which appear to be popular among programmers. However, in general, the top choices remain the same, and new solutions aren't as widely publicized as they are in backend development. What's fascinating is that the popularity of certain technologies might vary depending on where they're utilized; for example, React has dominated the American and Western European sectors, whereas Vue.js is widely used in China.

Web framework and libraries most commonly used by developers in 2021
Source: Stack overflow Survey 2021

Choosing the most suitable Frontend framework/library for your project

Choosing a framework or library to work with is frequently influenced by the developer's tastes and prior expertise, but that isn't the sole consideration. It's also vital to consider the scale and kind of project, as some activities require more structure, while others require more flexibility and personalization. Not to mention the long-term future, where we must consider factors such as maintainability, user traffic, performance, and scalability, all of which have a significant impact on technology decisions.

So, what options do we have? Let's look at our top three frontend technologies in more detail.

#1. React

According to the 2021 Stack Overflow Survey, React is the most widely used web library, with a large lead over jQuery, which came in second. This open-source frontend technology, which has been on the market since 2013, has a large following among the tech community. What makes ReactJS so popular?

First and foremost, frontend developers appear to love its simple syntax. Starting a React project and delivering a basic app is relatively simple (for example, using the Create React App environment, which is perfect for beginners). Also, React has one of the largest communities out there, with several forums where people are always willing to help and encourage one another in their programming endeavors. From the perspective of the Product Owner, it also means that there is a large talent pool, making it easier to find experienced React experts for a digital project.

React's flexibility and customizability are also advantages. Programmers have a lot of control over the components they design and can tweak them to fit the needs of the project. As we all know, the software development process is fluid, thus the flexibility to make changes "on the fly" is always useful. However, for those who are new to React, the freedom of choice can be dangerous — if implemented by an inexperienced developer, it can lead to inconsistencies and a jumbled code structure.

React's flexibility and customizability are also advantages. Multiple tools that enable React development make it easier to stay on schedule. React DevTools, for example, is a Chrome extension that allows developers to investigate specific components. The styled-components package, which uses CSS and is dedicated to React and React Native programmers, allows you to style components. As a result, when a developer specifies their styles, they're essentially generating a standard React component with these styles attached. Not to mention the well-known React Hooks, which are functions that allow developers to use React without having to employ classes.

Finally, Next.js, undoubtedly the most popular React framework, offers programmers a variety of capabilities like SSR, image optimization, quick refresh, and analytics. All of these (and many other) features work together to make React development a smooth and enjoyable experience. The icing on the cake is that React can be utilized with TypeScript, opening up a whole new world of possibilities for developers.

React has shown to be a strong fit for a variety of applications, both vertically and in terms of complexity. It's a wonderful option for MVPs because it ensures speedy feature delivery while also allowing for changes along the route. It does, however, work effectively with more complicated projects.

#2. Angular

Let's have a look at the newest of the three frontend technologies discussed in this article. Angular is still among the top five most widely used web frameworks after six years on the market, and it is well-liked by the IT community.

This Google-created TypeScript-based frontend solution is ideal for larger, corporate projects. What is the reason for this? It all comes down to the code structure, which adheres to a strict set of principles and includes built-in modules. Angular is less adaptable than React in this aspect, although it isn't always a bad thing. It simply refers to a defined project design that assures greater order in long-term projects, particularly those with a lot of backend logic, such as financial applications. It's important to remember this when deciding on the most suitable technology for your own project. Because many enterprise apps are built with Angular, it's also a great solution for software modernization.

Angular, like React, comes with add-ons that make it easier for developers all around the world to do their jobs. RxJS, a library for reactive programming and data streams handling, is one of them. It ensures that the application's view is automatically refreshed when the data is changed. Another good choice is the Angular Language Service, which improves code editing for a variety of Angular-based projects.

#3. Vue.js

Last but not the least, we take a look at Vue.js. A little frontend framework that's been around since 2014. Vue.js is a popular and easy-to-learn framework that has gained popularity among the IT community, becoming one of the most popular and widely used solutions.

Despite its simplicity, Vue.js includes a large number of internal components as well as a strict code structure. The framework's most recent, more maintainable version was released in the fall of 2020. What does this imply in terms of application? Vue 3 introduces a slew of new features, including a Composition API (based by React Hooks), improved TypeScript support, and routing components (which eliminate the requirement for third-party libraries, as with React).

Vue.js appears to fall in between React and Angular in terms of customization and structure, making it a versatile framework that works well in both mid-sized and big applications. Genuine Impact, a strong risk management platform, employed Vue.js to deliver components for the RWD web app, and it proved to be a fantastic fit.

How can you make the most of Vue.js' capabilities? Multiple tools improve its productivity and make Vue development a joy to do. Nuxt.js is one of them, allowing developers to make SEO-friendly single-page apps and server-side rendered web views. It also adds additional structure to the app, making it easier to configure and set up. Vuex, a shared state management library that is essential in many projects, is another useful addition.

Up and comers

While the frontend podium has remained largely constant for some time, a number of new technologies have developed. According to the Stack Overflow Survey 2021, one of them is Svelte, which, despite its youth, has become the most popular framework. It's a tiny but rapidly expanding community with a fast and light frontend compiler. Beginner developers will find this technology particularly appealing because of its minimal learning curve.

The most loved (blue) and dreaded (purple) web frameworks for 2021

Source: Stack overflow study

WebAssembly (Wasm), a portable binary-code format that can be utilized with any operating system or computer language, is another technology worth mentioning. It's a secure and efficient technology that makes web deployment a breeze.

Our takeaway

Trends are a helpful sign of how the market is currently performing, but we should never take them at face value. As with anything else in life, it's best to approach each instance on its own to find the best solution. If the frontend technology chosen is tightly tied to the product vision, business objectives, and target audience, you'll be able to meet your project's objectives.

Not sure which framework is ideal for you? Our experts at Relu Solutions will gladly assist you in finding the right answer!

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