9 of the best JavaScript frameworks

We've covered five of the biggest JavaScript frameworks, but it's important to note that they are by no means the be all and end all. There are always new frameworks being built and there are some that are still used heavily in the industry but don't garner as much press as the biggest players.

06. Ember.js 

Strengths

  • Handlebars for templates
  • Battle tested in production

Weaknesses

  • Opinionated
  • Sharp learning curve

Ember.js has been around for over a decade now and is used in some form in Apple's iCloud (as the SproutCore framework) as well as at LinkedIn. It has been tried and tested in enormous applications used by millions. 

The Ember Data module is praised for its power and sophistication: modelled after Rails Active Record, it offers a simple interface for persisting database structure in frontend applications.

Some developers will find Ember's strong opinions too restrictive. As with Angular, Ember presents a fairly steep learning curve that can serve as a deterrent to adoption. But it is still a full featured and modern JavaScript framework that has already held up under the weight of enormous consumer-facing applications.

07. Preact

Strengths

  • Tiny (like itty bitty)
  • Can use class instead of className

Weaknesses

  • Same as React, but not React

Preact is the minimalist's version of React. Weighing in at only 3KB, it has the same API and the same strengths that React's focus on components brings to UI composition. While Preact sports the same virtual DOM as React, its 'diffing' algorithm is different and Preact claims it is "one of the fastest Virtual DOM libraries out there".

Preact is not the same as React. It does not enjoy the same adoption that React does and, with its nearly carbon-copy API, it becomes less clear why developers might choose a smaller project like Preact over React. Still, Preact's focus on performance and its minuscule size make it a compelling alternative to developers looking to eke out every last drop of performance.

08. Cycle.js 

Strengths

  • Precise state management
  • Functional programming paradigm

Weaknesses

  • It's very new

Momentum in the explosion of JavaScript frameworks has slowed, but Cycle.js is one of the newer players to emerge. Cycle is built on the concept of pure functional programming and streams. It then uses something called 'drivers' to handle 'effects' that occur in the code. These effects are things like changes to the HTML.

Cycle is so new that it's hard to gauge its strengths or weaknesses. It also uses a lot of terminology that's difficult to understand. While Cycle says it is easy to learn, it is also difficult to understand what it is actually doing. Cycle is new, at the cutting edge in its implementation and design. Developers looking to the bleeding edge of JavaScript should keep their eye on this one.

09. jQuery

Strengths

  • Simple
  • No build step

Weaknesses

  • No 'binding'
  • Not a true framework

Yes, you read that right: jQuery. The library that arguably vaulted JavaScript into the stratosphere is still around. jQuery is still the easiest way to directly manipulate an HTML page, perform common tasks like Ajax calls and reliably work with collections. Many a developer still pines for the days when one simple jQuery in a page was all you needed to build an application.

It isn't a full framework. There is no 'binding' between the HTML and the JavaScript, so state changes are managed by the developer. But developers should consider jQuery, especially if building applications that are small or inside of runtimes like Chrome Extensions, which often preclude the use of libraries like Vue, Angular or React because of their content security policy.

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