What’s the Best JavaScript Framework for 2021?

You can expect these JavaScript frameworks to become even more important during 2021 and beyond, as more and more people embrace them.
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When the 2020 edition of the Stack Overflow Survey made it online, developers, programming enthusiasts, and those in the know were hardly surprised by the language that took the top spot for most commonly used language. JavaScript had been taking it for 7 years straight and things weren’t about to change in 2020: 67.7% of developers said they use it on a common basis.

So, it’s only natural that so many people are debating about which JavaScript framework of the many available is the best to do their work. Obviously, JavaScript developers tend to favor one or the other based on their own personal experience, so it’s hard to claim that one is better than the other (without the context of a project, that is). But there are some clear favorites in the JavaScript landscape, a handful of frameworks that have become somewhat essential for developers (that’s what happened with BairesDev’s engineers, at least).

That’s why we’ll review 4 of the most powerful and popular JavaScript frameworks. You can expect these to become even more important during 2021 and beyond, as more and more people embrace them.  That’s why we’ll take a look at their pros and cons so you can decide which is the best fit for your project. But first, let’s review why JavaScript is so popular and why its developers are in high demand. 

 

What Do JavaScript Developers Do?

A JavaScript developer is responsible for designing and building applications and software using JavaScript. Being one of the most widely used programming languages, JavaScript provides its developers with a rich feature set mostly suited for frontend development. Thus JavaScript developers create web pages taking into account the user experience and interaction. 

JavaScript, though, isn’t just limited to the frontend. Developers can use it to code backend applications and can even use it for an entire project (thus becoming full-stack JavaScript developers). Developers can access extended JavaScript possibilities through frameworks and libraries, which is why we’ll focus on the former here. 

 

React

React is probably the most widely known JavaScript framework (a fact that’s reflected by its popularity in the Stack Overflow Survey). Since its release in 2013, it has been steadily gaining a wider user base, mainly because you can use it for native development. The fact that is maintained and supported by Facebook surely doesn’t hurt, either, as it allows React to have new features and updates on a regular basis. 

Generally speaking, React is a good option for developers and companies that want to create user interfaces, single-page applications, and mobile apps, thanks to the high data-fetching speed. 

 

Pros:

  • Virtual DOMs: React uses a local and simplified version of the Document Object Model, abstracting these abstractions even more to perform computations more quickly and without being tied to browser specificity. 
  • Reusable components: React lets you reuse code components of different levels as you please, which allows you to save time when developing with it. React components are isolated, which means you can change one without seeing the changes affecting the others. 
  • Downward data-binding: React lets you work with components directly and, thanks to its downward data binding, you’ll see that parent structures aren’t affected by the changes you introduce in their children, making the entire code more stable. 
  • Open Source: Facebook made React open source upon release, a fantastic thing that sprung a wide community of developers working to create new tools and applications for it.

 

Cons:

  • JSX: React uses this syntax extension that allows you to use HTML in your JavaScript code. It can be a good thing (especially for security reasons) but it can also make it harder for you to learn how to use the framework due to the increased complexity.
  • Too many updates: updates in the software world are often a good thing – until they aren’t. In React, they mean new features and capabilities but they also change React frequently. This will have you relearning things you already mastered more often than you’d want. 
  • Poor documentation: React evolves at such a breakneck speed that its developers have it hard to properly write instructions for all its features. That’s why most React documentation is scattered or way too specific. 

 

Angular

Angular is more of a mature choice of JavaScript framework. Released by Google in 2010, Angular is another great alternative for frontend developers because it extends the HTML into the application while interpreting attributes to carry out data binding. A part of the popular MEAN stack, it comes with features like MVC architecture, TypeScript support, and dependency injection.

Angular is the best way to go if you’re tackling large-scale application projects, want a scalable architecture, or even if you are creating a single page application. 

 

Pros: 

  • Two-way data binding: the MVC architecture ensures that when the Model data changes, so does the View. This two-way binding relieves you from having to constantly synchronize the View and Model data, reducing development time. 
  • Dependency injection: with Angular, you can use injectors to define dependencies as external elements, which leads to components decoupling from their dependencies. This makes it easier for you to manage and test those components as well as allowing you to reuse them more easily. 
  • Strong community: Angular is another highly popular JavaScript framework, which means that you’ll find a thriving community filled with resources, discussions, and third-party tools to help you while you learn and develop with it. 

 

Cons:

  • Subpar performance: even when you can use it for large applications, you should be careful when developing with Angular. That’s because complex Angular applications tend to feel laggier and show a somewhat flawed performance (especially when compared to those built with other frameworks). 
  • Harder to learn: you might say that versatility is a great thing (and it can certainly be!) but in Angular, you’ll find that there’s such a thing as too much versatility. There are plenty of different ways to do the same thing in Angular, which can leave you confused and make it harder to learn it. 

 

Vue

One of the frameworks that’s slowly making more splashes as time goes by, Vue will definitely see an increase in popularity during 2021. Don’t be fooled by its tiny size – it’s a highly flexible and very powerful progressive framework with a high reusability value and a fast performance that has been making people fall in love with it since its release in 2014.

Used mainly to build web interfaces and one-page applications, you can also trust Vue to handle desktop and mobile app development by combining it with the Electron framework. 

 

Pros:

  • Small size: when people say that Vue is featherweight, it’s because it is as tiny as a framework can get. That makes it easy to download and install but also makes a difference in your application’s SEO and UX. 
  • Reactive two-way binding: Vue inherited this capability from Angular but Vue makes it reactive, which means that data updating is more straightforward and easier to complete. This is especially useful for applications that call for real-time updates, as changes are replicated where needed without affecting the overall functionality. 
  • Component reusability and readability: Vue uses encapsulated components that can be easily reused across multiple applications and are more easily readable and understandable. Encapsulation also helps with unit testing, as it’s easier to test separate components. 
  • Robust out-of-the-box tools: Vue comes packed with a series of powerful tools that give you more power over your projects, including end-to-end testing tools, a plugin installation system, and even its own browser debugger.

       

      Cons:

      • Complex reactivity: the two-way data binding is a great thing but it comes with a price: you have to keep an eye on the reactivity system, which often makes mistakes during data reading. Thus, you’ll have to follow Vue’s documentation closely to avoid them through a process that has its complexity. 
      • Limited resources: While Vue is very powerful out of the box and has plenty of great tools to boast of, it’s not nearly as big as other frameworks (especially React or Angular). Plugins are more limited, which can mean that your Vue project can be limited here and there. 

       

      Ember

      Ember isn’t nearly as popular as any of the other frameworks here but that doesn’t mean it’s not loved by its developers. In fact, people that have been choosing Ember since 2015 swear by it, especially because of its systemized way of coding. In other words, it’s pretty hard for you to make mistakes while using Ember, as there’s usually only one way of doing a certain thing.

      Based on the MVVM model, you can use Ember to create complex web apps very quickly. You can even use it to create desktop and mobile apps, though its strength lies in web development. 

       

      Pros:

      • Convention over configuration: Ember uses naming conventions that then generate code automatically. Using principle saves you a lot of time, as you don’t have to write big troves of repetitive code, relieving you from redundant tasks. 
      • Ember CLI: widely considered as the best CLI of all these frameworks (a claim that is obviously contested by a lot of people), the Ember CLI makes it easier to create and fit code into the right structure while taking the proper dependencies into account. 
      • Ember Inspector: this is a peculiar debugger that’s no more and no less than a browser extension through which you can monitor and edit your Ember apps in real-time, which makes it easier and quicker to find bugs and issues. 

       

      Cons:

      • Large size: Ember is the opposite of Vue, as it’s one of the largest JavaScript frameworks out there. That means that it’s mostly suited for larger projects because using it on a smaller scale could bring too much trouble and hassle. 
      • Unnecessary abstractions: some people say that Ember feels more like Ruby on Rails than JavaScript. In a certain sense, that’s true, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, except for the unneeded abstractions that might overcomplicate projects.
      • Hard to learn: one of the biggest disadvantages is that, for all its power, Ember can be difficult to master. That’s especially true for beginners or for people interested in tackling simple projects since Ember offers a lot more at simplicity’s expense. 

       

      JavaScript Framework Trends Going Strong In 2021

      If you’ve been paying attention to what’s happening with JavaScript frameworks lately, you’ll see that this list doesn’t precisely add something new. That’s because these frameworks have established themselves as the best JavaScript frameworks out there and they still have room to grow. That’s why you can expect to see them increase their popularity even more.

      In that sense, we won’t be seeing much change but isn’t necessarily a bad thing. React, Angular, Vue, and Ember have all proven their worth and they becoming more popular is good news for anyone trying to make the most out of JavaScript. 

       

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