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Top 3 Frameworks for Web Application Development

January 19, 2021

Creating a new product might be quite challenging for organizations regarding deciding on the right tech stack. Front-end frameworks are widely-used for web development projects. They make the coding process much more comfortable and further system maintenance more convenient.

Using a framework is the right solution for web development projects demanding high reliability, performance, scalability, and fail-safety. Below we’ve discussed crucial things we consider when selecting a web development framework for clients’ projects and some top frameworks that stand out in 2021.

Crucial considerations when choosing a web development framework 

With the development of web technologies, web apps have strict requirements for their performance, functionality, etc. That’s why choosing the right framework is a crucial task. Many web development companies follow the trend to select the most appropriate framework based on the client’s project requirements. Therefore, the two main things to consider are the economic effectiveness and technical benefits of frameworks. It’s also necessary to consider a business strategy and other things, including framework maintenance, staff recruiting and onboarding, possible team expansion, framework community, and licenses. 

It’s reasonable to take into account your business strategy when choosing a web development framework for your project. On the one hand, it’s related to economic effectiveness and technical benefits. On the other hand, it’s about managing the development process from a long perspective. For example, you might consider migrating your current project from one technology to another to have a standard tech stack all over your projects.

Any project’s tech stack defines further maintenance tasks, staff recruiting and onboarding, possible team expansion, etc. For instance, when you choose a less popular framework, but you need to start your project in a short period, you risk falling behind schedule. It may take more time to onboard developers or find the ones with the expertise in the framework and increase project costs as a result. 

It’s easier to find developers with expertise in a framework with a large community. That’s why projects based on popular frameworks will provide some output earlier because you don’t need to spend time and money on long-term onboarding. Moreover, the community is very supportive in developers’ chats and forums.  

Before development on any framework, it’s vital to check what license it’s distributed under. Some of the licenses aren’t very generous regarding plugins and extension; many are only distributed under paid licenses, resulting in extra costs. Moreover, you may not be allowed to create a commercial app under a specific license. Besides, it’s vital to research who will own the software’s intellectual property and copyrights of the software built on a framework.

In summary, here’s our checklist of the things to analyze when choosing an appropriate web development framework for any project. It’s worth considering:

  • economic effectiveness,
  • business strategy,
  • technical characteristics,
  • maintenance opportunities,
  • staff recruiting and onboarding,
  • further team expansion,
  • community support, and
  • license distribution.

3 popular frameworks that stand out in 2021

Though any framework research must be done based on actual project needs and requirements, below, we’ve covered the pros and cons of three popular frameworks in 2021.

Based on Stackoverflow Insights 2020 and our experience, we’ve included React.js, Angular, Vue.js due to their technical benefits and growing popularity and community. Stackoverflow’s Survey shows that the frameworks are among the most popular ones in 2020. Many developers who aren’t working with those frameworks have expressed their interest in developing with it (React.js 22.4%, Vue.js 16.4%, Angular 10.6%). This means that the community will be growing in 2021, making it easier to find developers for the project. We can also observe the growing number of downloads per year, and React.js is the leader on our list with about 400M downloads by today. 

Source: https://npm-stat.com/charts.html?package=react&package=vue&package=%40angular%2Fcore&from=2014-12-12&to=2020-11-16

Below we’ve arranged the frameworks’ technical features as their pros and cons.

Angular 2+

Maintained by Google, the new Angular version was implemented from scratch, taking into account AngularJS’s issues. Modern Angular includes several versions, ranging from 2 to 10.0.2, released in 2020. It’s an open-source project with a massive community of developers on Stackoverflow, Twitter, Reddit, GitHub, and others. Twenty-five percent of Stackoverflow’s respondents use different Angular’s versions; it’s the third most ‘’wanted’’ framework, and 54% of 2020’s respondents include it on the list of most ‘loved’’ technologies.

Source: https://insights.stackoverflow.com/survey/2020#technology-most-loved-dreaded-and-wanted-web-frameworks-wanted2

Angular is excellent for creating single-page, dynamic web, and mobile apps using the Model-View-Controller pattern. Though some community members consider it as not easy to learn, Angular has powerful features and flexibility. Compared to Angular JS, the new framework has higher performance, which is ensured by improved features, approaches, and techniques.  

Pros of Angular 2+

Component-based approach

The component-based approach provides a high level of reusability when building a web application with Angular. The approach is also used to create a user interface, and each component is considered a small app’s section. 

Among the main benefits of this approach are:

testability: component-based architecture makes it easier to unit-test a component with a well-defined API.

readability: a well-structured code is much easier to read for new developers.

maintainability: a development team will be more efficient in maintaining and updating the code because components decoupled from each other can be replaced with alternative implementations.

proper isolation of styles:  the implementation of the Shadow DOM standard allows view, style, and behavior encapsulation.

TypeScript

Angular 2+ is written with TypeScript language, which helps eliminate mistakes when coding. It’s a real challenge for large-scale applications to write clean code; that’s why TypesScript is an tremendous advantage for reaching it. Still, TypeScript bends the learning curve on any project because it’ll be quite challenging to integrate junior developers to the project as they may not grasp things quickly.

Dependency injection

In Angular 2+, an improved version of dependency injection is applied. Due to the technique, the application’s components run parallel to each other without being dependent. Besides, employing dependency injection made Angular more performant.

Automatic synchronization with two-way data binding

This feature allows developers to synchronize the Model-View data, which means that they don’t need to perform manual modifications after changing the data as the components are automatically updated. 

POJO model

The Plain Old Javascript Objects (POJO) applied by Angular makes the code architecture clean and independent. There’s no need to add complex features, making Angular-based applications to perform faster. Finally, the POJO Model eliminates external dependencies.

Testing as an integral part

Testing of JavaScript is integrated into Angular, which provides an opportunity to develop the software and test all its components seamlessly. Due to Angular’s dependency injection, it can be forced by the unit test functionality to perform tests by injecting dummy data into the controller.

Angular Material is a modern UI

Following the Material Design Guidelines by Google, Angular Material has a rich library of in-build components to create a comprehensive, user-friendly interface.

Code consistency and robust ecosystem

Angular CLI tool helps developers to build projects, test and add new features in the same project, which makes communication between teams more straightforward and more efficient. Besides, Angular’s powerful ecosystem provides exceptional resources to its community. Still, it may seem like a source of missing some freedom and flexibility in choosing alternatives. 

MVVM architecture

The Model-View-Viewmodel architecture and two-data binding allow saving time for updating changes added to the view layer or the data. That’s why Angular is often preferred for large-scale applications.

Active community

Angular is one of the most popular web development frameworks with lots of valuable materials like reference documents, FAQs, etc. For this reason, Angular is easy to learn and work with .

Design development workflow

This advantage allows coders to refrain from CSS/HTML markup, developing an application, and adding a markup without breaking the whole application. 

Cons of Angular 2+

Less freedom in choosing libraries

Angular comes with more functionality out of the box, which gives software engineers less flexibility than React, for example. Still, they don’t need to think about what library to choose for some critical features. 

ReactJS

React.js is the most ‘’wanted’’ technology on Stackoverflow and the second popular framework after jQuery (35.9% compared to 43.3%).

Source: https://insights.stackoverflow.com/survey/2020#technology-most-loved-dreaded-and-wanted-web-frameworks-wanted2

When released by Facebook, React was marketed as an open-source alternative to MVC architecture frameworks, and many experts argue if React is a javascript library or a front-end framework. Regardless of evidence for and against each side, ReactJS offers a rich library that allows developers to build most of the project’s functionality. What’s more, it has lots of improved features and approaches that make React-based web apps fast and performant.

React.js is perfect for creating interactive interfaces and massive web apps because it proved itself to be scalable. Still, it’s not easy to learn, so you may have problems with fast staffing, as it may take some time to find an experienced developer to start with React.

Pros of ReactJS

Easy to create dynamic web apps

ReactJS applies JSX (JavaScript Extension)  that simplifies the coding process of dynamic web apps. JavaScript extension is a syntax that allows HTML quotes and tags to render some subcomponents. 

Rich JavaScript ecosystem

ReactJS is very popular among web developers because it offers a wealthy JavaScript library and documentation for React, Create-React-App scripts, and many libraries with components, including Material-UI, ag-Grid for working with grids, etc. It provides flexibility to them when choosing the way they want to implement the application’s functionality. 

Reusable components

A web app based on ReactJS consists of different components outputting reusable HTML code. Developers can use it in any part of the application they need making the complex code clearer and more structured. Reusable components make development and maintenance more manageable, which reduces project costs.

Can be used with other frameworks

ReactJS can be quite easily combined with other frameworks, which makes it more flexible compared to others.

Cons of ReactJS

Risks of using third-party dependencies

Though ReactJS is a library with all the ecosystem, it may be treated as a CON. Developers have to always rely on some 3rd party modules developed by third parties that can probably abandon it. Moreover, each time you need to add new features and comprehensive research is needed for choosing the right solution.

Not reactive

Though a lot of people consider ReactJS to be reactive. Unfortunately, it is NOT REACTIVE in any sense. For example, developers will have to code manually when adding new changes.

Vue.js

Vue.js is a relatively new javascript framework but evolving fast, and it’s community is extending, but still, it’s less popular than Angular or React.

Source: https://insights.stackoverflow.com/trends?tags=reactjs%2Cvue.js%2Cangular%2Cangularjs

Vue.js is very popular for rich UI and SPAs and used for developing flexible applications with interactive designs. On the one hand, some experts say it’s better for small-scale projects, but on the other hand, some enterprise projects were started with Vue.js as the main framework which gives a hint that Vue will follow the React way. Moreover, it has very similar approaches from a technical point of view, and now Vue.js is pretty the same as React was about five years ago. Let’s have a look at some of Vue.js’ advantages and disadvantages.

Pros of Vue.js

Can be used as a library and fully-fledged framework 

The reason for choosing Vue.js is its scalability. The framework is easy to modify and scale based on project requirements. 

Component-based approach

Similar to Angular, Vue.js follows the component-based approach, too. It’s one of the reasons why it’s popular nowadays. Code reusability allows web developers to get multiple components and add as many of them as required to templates you already have. Moreover, the component-based structure improves code readability and maintainability because it’s well-defined and clear.

Better performance 

The production-ready Vue.js project has a tiny size that results in better performance and faster runtime. Besides, there’s no need to re-optimize it when the project size is minimum. 

Reactivity

The reactivity system in Vue has always been from its very early version. It’s probably one of the reasons why Vue is so popular.

Cons of Vue.js

More limited in resources than React/Angular

Unfortunately, Vue.js is relatively new and has few libraries, which is its drawback.

Chinese community

There’s a certain language barrier when searching Vue content as most of forum discussions, instructions, and descriptions are in Chinese. It might be an issue for some English-speaking  developers.

Final words

We’ve compared Angular, React, and Vue.js based on ten criteria to make the process of choosing easier. Here are our insights:

It’s worth noting that the total values are near the same for all three frameworks from our top list. The facts speak for themselves; Angular, React, and Vue.js have achieved a dominant position in the market, though according to some criteria they are different enough. 

We hope that article will give you insight into choosing the right tech stack for your software project. Remember that there’s no ideal framework for any project, you need to consider all pros and cons and make your choice based on your particular project needs and requirements, not on market trends. Finally, if you have a specific idea in mind, you can consult our front-end experts, and they’ll be happy to suggest the most suitable option for your project requirements.

by Vitaly Kliauzo and Anton Vlasik

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Vitaly is an experienced front-end developer who actively participate in the Front End/Web Development Department’s life. He’s been working in IT as a Developer, Tech Lead and Trainer for 11+ years.

 

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Anton is a Front-End Engineer, actively contributing Front-End/Web development Department growth. He’s been working in IT as a Developer, Tech Lead and Trainer for 6+ years.