JavaScript Framework Explosion

“Studies show that a todo list is the most complex JavaScript app you can build before a newer, better framework is invented.” -Allen Pike

Allen Pike published a great piece about the state of JavaScript frameworks.

It’s an exciting time to be in the JavaScript world. The language is getting more attention and tools daily. Companies and projects pick up and use new technologies in key roles before they hit fully stable, 1.0 releases. There has been an explosion in the number of frameworks for doing anything JavaScript, both on the client and the server.

JavaScript’s popularity has grown dramatically because it is the language of the browser. Only through JS can you make things happen in the browser. Developers use the language due to that privileged role and the widespread use of the internet (the fastest, widest distribution platform ever made). JS is THE choice if you’re developing client-side. Companies require many developers to use JS. Browsers are constantly changing, and leading developers to experiment more and more.

“…large, feature-rich JavaScript frameworks [make] slow, lumbering prey. A horde of young, nimble microframeworks swarm them, take them down, and fight over the meal. Modularity and componentization reigns.” -Allen Pike

The countless tiny frameworks make it hard for newcomers to the language to know what to use. It can have many negative consequences. Am I choosing the right framework to solve my problems, or are these 10 others a better choice? Will learning this framework provide lasting value, or will it be abandoned for others in a few months?

Developer attention on a framework contributes to its value. That’s what makes certain tools so great- developers using them and creating tools for them or directly improving them.

The tradeoffs of which framework to learn or use can be hard to navigate. It’s essential to identify which problems you’re solving, and which tradeoffs make sense for the project. Like most software engineering problems, it’s critical to know your needs.

It’s not clear if or when the JavaScript community will produce a clearly dominant frameworks. Angular is the current most likely contender. Perhaps a framework we haven’t heard of yet will surpass it, or one we know- React and React Native have been on people’s minds lately. Time will tell, and many more cleint-side JavaScript frameworks are certainly on the way. Hopefully each one solves a real problem, and learns about what works and doesn’t from the many recent frameworks that have been created.


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