JavaScript frameworks 2019: reviews and predictions

JavaScript has a churn problem. It seems like a bold new framework appears every 18 months and promises to crush the competition, before disappearing into obscurity. The surprising thing about 2018, then, is how little the needle moved. We’ve gotten very accustomed to the whole ecosystem changing overnight and in that context, 2018 was almost too quiet. That said, it wasn’t a totally static year— let’s go over the winners and losers of 2018, and talk about how they’re doing in 2019.

Javascript frameworks

WINNER

Vue.js

You all knew this was coming. Vue overtook React as the most popular frontend JS project on Github last year and has gone from strength to strength. It’s still relatively rare to meet a developer who uses it, but everybody wants to be using it. 2019 is the year when Vue comes into its own-teams all over the world have been working hard to learn it, and I predict this year you’ll see an explosion in the number of Vue.js developers.

Vue’s big advantage is that it’s relatively easy, but still powerful. In a world where coding basic JS often requires a tottering tower of dependencies, Vue strips everything back and just lets you write great code. It’s still not easy (it’s JS after all) but compared to something like Angular or backend run-times like Node (with fun situations like this) you’re getting a very streamlined experience.

The biggest concern right now is that there just isn’t a lot of job openings for Vue, but that does seem to be changing. It might take a few more years for it to be commonplace, but it is picking up a respectable share of job opportunities. I’m not sure it’s sensible to make it the only arrow in your quiver but it’s a great framework that is becoming increasingly relevant.

Still Hanging

STILL HANGING IN THERE

Angular

Angular is still holding strong, despite the last few years. The transition from Angular.js to Angular 2 scared a lot of people away, but the fact of the matter is that a huge percentage on the internet still runs on some variation of Google’s indomitable JS framework and if you want work, this is where you need to be looking. Angular 2 to Angular 4 isn’t nearly so large a jump as it was from Angular.js: there’s definitely some improvements (like a much cleaner syntax for *ngIf and *ngFor) but it’s a refinement rather than the total overhaul we saw in 2015.

Angular is an ongoing project by one of the biggest tech companies in the world. It’s going to stick around for a long time-it’s as safe a bet as you’re going to get in this industry. The State of JS 2018 confusingly combined Angular.js with Angular, which accounts for the big swings on their graphs and a lot of talk about how the framework is on life support; if you include the numbers from a deprecated framework into the numbers for the modern iteration, it’s going to change the averages. Angular might not be as popular as it was in 2014, but it’s not going anywhere.

React

Like Angular, there are a lot of naysayers online who think this framework is dead. Like they were with Angular, they’re exaggerating. React isn’t quite as dominant as it was in 2017, but it’s still exceptionally useful and I wouldn’t count it out. Like Google, Facebook has a dedicated team on this project keeping it up to date and they can afford to hire the best developers in the business. There’s a tendency in JavaScript development to discard last year’s framework and jump ahead onto the next big thing, but React is still a powerful and popular framework and there’s a reason for that; React is very lightweight and has one of the lowest learning curves of any JS framework. It has excellent documentation, great dev tools, and even allows the easy development of native mobile apps with React Native.

The numbers say React is still on the up, and it’s not hard to see why. Vue had a better year, but React gets a respectable silver medal.

The losers

THE LOSERS

Ember.js

All the way back in 2015, Ember.js was being hailed as the framework to kill Angular for good. Don’t get me wrong: Ember is a very competent framework, it just never went anywhere. It was hard to learn, and learning it didn’t get you enough that you couldn’t get elsewhere more easily. Ember isn’t going to disappear any time soon, but it’s not going to have a sudden renaissance either-short of a major overhaul, it’s going to trundle along hemorrhaging developers until it goes the way of Knockout.js.

Polymer

This is a trickier one to pin down, but the numbers support a decline in use. Polymer is a powerful, flexible and lightweight library and… nobody is using it. It’s a modern jQuery, designed for a modern JS environment, but it hasn’t managed to find much traction. Maybe the branding was wrong or maybe it’s like trying to make a modern cassette player. It might be that this one turns around like Vue did but, as of 2019, the community has greeted Polymer’s launch with a loud and unanimous “huh?”.

Overall, 2018 and 2019 have been fairly static. Does this mean JS is maturing and calming down? Maybe. It could also be the eye of the storm. If things are slowing down, Vue and React are still going to have a showdown sometime in the near future, and the character of that showdown could shape JS for years to come. React is a titan: it’s a wildly popular framework with one of the largest companies in the world behind it. Somehow, though, plucky little open-source Vue is winning. It hasn’t got big enough for the two to clash, but it’s going to happen and when it happens, one of them is going to become yesterday’s news.

While you’re here, consider getting in touch with my team at CodeClouds. We have a team of JavaScript developers and we provide a variety of other web development services at very affordable rates. We’ve got teams in Kolkata, Sydney, Wellington and Fort Wayne IN, and we’re always hiring developers. Whether you need to hire a developer or whether you want to become one, CodeClouds are the right team for you.

Statistics in this article were taken from State of JavaScript 2018.

Site Footer