Front-end frameworks: What is important right now?Siw Grinaker on
What stirs in the world of front-end frameworks today—and what trends can you expect tomorrow?
Front-end frameworks determine the logic, structure, design, behaviour, and animation of every element you see on-screen when you interact with websites, web applications, and mobile apps.
For instance, buying something online today is a different experience than 10—15 years ago. In the past you would be sent to different confirmation pages during the process, while today the emphasis is more on a better user experience. Now smooth transitions characterise the various stages of the buying process and you generally get a more app-like feeling, with more actions happening on the same page.
An important piece of your digital experience like a front-end framework should not be left to the mercy of mere chance. That’s why we have compiled a short and essential summary of what factors are the most important right now and—accordingly—in the future.
Design systems are also becoming increasingly important. Learn how to build one:
Selecting the right front-end framework
If you have browsed through several front-end frameworks already, you might be confused about exactly what framework you should choose, or what features you should prioritise in the first place.
As a remedy, here is a quick reference to what is most important when contemplating on selecting a framework that is right for you, your team, and your organisation:
Your preferred front-end framework should not have a very steep learning curve, as this can not only put you off—it can demoralise any co-workers in your organisation that also must work with it. Be sure to pick something familiar to you and your colleagues, or something developer-friendly—i.e. a programming language that is loved by developers.
A great way to kickstart your developers in a new front-end framework is the presence of a built-in toolbox. A toolbox may include a build server, web server, asset caching, etc., enabling your developers to get started fast.
Imagine being tasked with baking a specific type of an advanced cake, but not being provided with a recipe. Or being given the task to maintain a hydroelectric dam, but without getting your hands on the operating manual.
The same principle goes for a front-end framework. Having access to good documentation is important to give your developers an overview, a reference guide, a troubleshooter guide, or information on any technical detail they may ponder.
Just like having access to comprehensive documentation, the availability of tutorials is a must for getting your developers up to speed. Even though your developers are knowledgeable, they might still get tips to smart operations and methods within the front-end framework through a well-executed tutorial.
Finally, the front-end framework should be well embraced by an engaged community who can help out should you have any questions.
Most popular front-end frameworks
In addition to consider the factors above, it might be useful to see what front-end frameworks are popular with the developer crowd. According to Google Trends, React and Angular are the most popular frameworks when it comes to interest on the search engine the last years.
However, and perhaps surprisingly, jQuery still holds the torch as the most used (although not most loved) web framework out there. Vue.js has increased its popularity, but most importantly 2018 was the first year when React jumped ahead of Angular in the framework popularity contest. React has been ahead as more loved for a few years already.
When considering a full-stack web framework, Express currently has a very good traction. It is built on top of NodeJs, which means it is robust but lightweight. Furthermore, Express has built-in features like routing, caching, redirect, and more.
Pro tip: Use TypeScript to strengthen your front-end
With TypeScript it is easier to refactor without errors and easier to test—especially for larger projects.
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Coding frameworks, can be used for single-page apps, functionality, low-level (harder, digging deeper, demanding more logic)
Markup, for more traditional websites, templating, high-level (easier).
Can be run together with JS frameworks