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The future of frameworks: What's in store for the rest of 2020?

Future of frameworks
(Image credit: Future)

In 2020, we are blessed with a number of frameworks and libraries to help us with web development. But there wasn't always so much variety. Back in 2005, a new scripting language called Mocha was created by a guy named Brendan Eich. Months after being renamed to LiveScript, the name was changed again to JavaScript. Since then, JavaScript has come a long way. 

In 2010, we saw the introduction of Backbone and Angular as the first JavaScript frameworks and, by 2016, 92 per cent of all websites used JavaScript. In this article, we are going to have a look at three of the main JavaScript frameworks (Angular, React and Vue) and their status heading into the next decade.

For some brilliant resources, check out our list of top web design tools, and this list of excellent user testing software, too.

01. Angular

Frameworks: Angular

(Image credit: Angular)

AngularJS was released in 2010 but by 2016 it was completely rewritten and released as Angular 2. Angular is a full- blown web framework developed by Google, which is used by Wix, Upwork, The Guardian, HBO and more.

Pros:

  • Exceptional support for TypeScript
  • MVVM enables developers to separate work on the same app section using the same set of data
  • Excellent documentation

Cons: 

  • Has a bit of a learning curve
  • Migrating from an old version can be difficult. 
  • Updates are introduced quite regularly meaning developers need to adapt to them

What's next?

In Angular 9, Ivy is the default compiler. It's been put in place to solve a lot of the issues around performance and file size. It should make applications smaller, faster and simpler.

When you compare previous versions of Angular to React and Vue, the
final bundle sizes were a lot a bigger when using Angular. Ivy also makes Progressive Hydration possible, which is something the Angular team showed off at I/O 2019. Progressive Hydration uses Ivy to load progressively on the server and the client. For example, once a user begins to interact with a page, components' code along with any runtime is fetched piece by piece.

Ivy seems like the big focus going forward for Angular and the hope is to make it available for all apps. There will be an opt-out option in version 9, all the way through to Angular 10.

02. React

Frameworks: React

(Image credit: React)

React was initially released in 2013 by Facebook and is used for building interactive web interfaces. It is used by Netflix, Dropbox, PayPal and Uber to name a few.

Pros:

  • React uses the virtual DOM, which has a positive impact on performance 
  • JSX is easy to write  
  • Updates don't compromise stability

Cons:

  • One of the main setbacks is needing third-party libraries to create more complex apps 
  • Developers are left in the dark on the best way to develop

What's next?

At React Conf 2019, the React team touched on a number of things they have been working on. The first is Selective Hydration, which is where React will pause whatever it's working on in order to prioritise the components that the user is interacting with. As the user goes to interact with a particular section, that area will be hydrated. The team has also been working on Suspense, which is React's system for orchestrating the loading of code, data and images. This enables components to wait for something before they render.

Both Selective Hydration and Suspense are made possible by Concurrent Mode, which enables apps to be more responsive by giving React the ability to enter large blocks of lower priority work in order to focus on something that's a higher priority, like responding to user input. The team also mentioned accessibility as another area they have been looking at, by focusing on two particular topics – managing focus and input interfaces.

03. Vue

Frameworks: Vue

(Image credit: Vue)

Vue was developed in 2014 by Evan You, an ex-Google employee. It is used by Xiaomi, Alibaba and GitLab. Vue managed to gain popularity and support from developers in a short space of time and without the backing of a major brand.

Pros:

  • Very light in size 
  • Beginner friendly – easy to learn 
  • Great community

Cons:

  • Not backed by a huge company, like React with Facebook and Angular with Google 
  • No real structure

What's next?

Vue has set itself the target of being faster, smaller, more maintainable and making it easier for developers to target native. The next release (3.0) is due in Q1 2020, which includes a virtual DOM rewrite for better performance along with improved TypeScript Support. There is also the addition of the Composition API, which provides developers with a new way to create components and organise them by feature instead of operation.

Those developing Vue have also been busy working on Suspense, which suspends your component rendering and renders a fallback component until a condition is met.

One of the great things with Vue's updates is they sustain backward compatibility. They don't want you to break your old Vue projects. We saw this in the migration from 1.0 to 2.0 where 90 per cent of the API was the same.

How does the syntax of frameworks compare?

All three frameworks have undergone changes since their releases but one thing that's critical to understand is the syntax and how it differs. Let's have a look at how the syntax compares when it comes to simple event binding:

Vue: The v-on directive is used to attach event listeners that invoke methods on Vue instances. Directives are prefixed with v- in order to indicate that they are special attributes provided by Vue and apply special reactive behaviour to the rendered DOM. Event handlers can be provided either inline or as the name of the method.

<template>
 <button v-on:click=”clickHandler”>Click me</button>
</template>
<script>
export default {
 name: “HelloWorld”,
 methods: {
   clickHandler: function() {
     console.log(“I was clicked!”);
 }
 }
};
</script>

React: React puts mark up and logic in JS and JSX, a syntax extension to JavaScript. With JSX, the function is passed as the event handler. Handling events with React elements is very similar to handling events on DOM elements. But there are some syntactic differences; for instance, React events are named using camelCase rather than lowercase.

function Button() {
 function clickHandler(e) {
   console.log(“I was clicked”);
 }
 return <button onClick={clickHandler}>Click me!</button>;
}

Angular: Event binding syntax consists of a target event name within parentheses on the left of an equal sign and a quoted template statement on the right. Alternatively, you can use the on- prefix, known as the canonical form.

@Component({
 selector: “app-click-me”,
 template: `
   <button (click)=”onClickMe()”>Click me!</button>
 `
})
export class ClickMeComponent {
 onClickMe() {
   console.log(“You clicked me!”);
 }
}

Popularity and market

Let's begin by looking at an overall picture of the three frameworks in regards to the rest of the web by examining stats from W3Techs. Angular is currently used by 0.4 per cent of all websites, with a JavaScript library market share of 0.5 per cent. React is used by 0.3 per cent of all websites and a 0.4 per cent JavaScript library market share and Vue has 0.3 per cent for both. This seems quite even and you would expect to see the numbers rise.

Google trends: Over the past 12 months, React is the most popular in search terms, closely followed by Angular. Vue.js is quite a way behind; however, one thing to remember is that Vue is still young compared to the other two.

Job searches: At the time of writing, React and Angular are quite closely matched in terms of job listings on Indeed with Vue a long way behind. On LinkedIn, however, there seems to be more demand for Vue developers. 

Stack Overflow: If you look at the Stack Overflow Developer Survey results for 2019, React and Vue.js are both the most loved and wanted web frameworks. Angular sits down in ninth position for most loved but third most wanted.

GitHub: Vue has the most number of stars with 153k but it has the least number of contributors (283). React on the other hand has 140k stars and 1,341 contributors. Angular only has 59.6k stars but has the highest number of contributors out of the three with 1,579.

NPM Trends: The image above shows stats for the past 12 months, where you can see React has a higher number of downloads per month compared to Angular and Vue.

Mobile app development

One main focus for the big three is mobile deployment. React has React Native, which has become a popular choice for building iOS and Android apps not just for React users but also for the wider app development community. Angular developers can use NativeScript for native apps or Ionic for hybrid mobile apps, whereas Vue developers have a choice of NativeScript or Vue Native. Because of the popularity of mobile applications, this remains a key area of investment.

Other frameworks to look out for in 2020

If you want to try something new in 2020, check out these JavaScript frameworks.

Frameworks: Ember

(Image credit: Ember)

Ember: An open-source framework for building web applications that works based on the MVVM pattern. It is used by several big companies like Microsoft, Netflix and LinkedIn.

Frameworks: Meteor

(Image credit: Meteor)

Meteor: A full-stack JavaScript platform for developing modern web and mobile applications. It's easy to learn and has a very supportive community.

Conclusion

All three frameworks are continually improving, which is an encouraging sign. Everyone has their own perspective and preferred solution about which one they should use but it really comes down to the size of the project and which makes you feel more comfortable. 

The most important aspect is the continued support of their communities, so if you are planning to start a new project and have never used any of the three before, then I believe you are in safe hands with all of them. If you haven't had a chance to learn any of the three frameworks yet, then I suggest making it your New Year's resolution to start learning. The future will revolve around these three.

This content originally appeared in net magazine.

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