Quick Summary: Frontend Frameworks are ubiquitous with web development. With a myriad of options available out there, we have compiled a list to top frontend frameworks out there to help you out. Read till the end to gain a deeper insight about why and why not should you choose a particular frontend frameowork. Let’s begin!!
Web development is the latest trend in the software development industry these days. And we can’t deny that. Most of the softwares have a web version in some form or other.
Web apps allow you to break the traditional constraints of the desktop and mobile operating systems and provide freedom to experiment with different varieties of software.
To prevent reinventing the wheel, developers use front end frameworks. These front end frameworks provide various templates to interact with browser components and are compatible with various libraries which boost the performance while reducing the amount of code required.
They divide the code into many building blocks or modules which are self contained and can be reused anywhere in the project. This prevents bad practices like code duplication and simplifies unit testing by many miles. Thus, the entire website development methodology benefits from the speed boost and time savings which can be gained by using these top front end frameworks.
Another benefit of using a modern web framework is that a static/dynamic website can be packaged into a Portable Web Application (PWA). This can provide near native functionality and user experience while being able to function without an active internet connection.
PWAs can save the time and efforts required to develop an entire native application for multiple platforms from scratch, hence speeding up the time to market and enhancing audience reach.
While the JS development scene is not as active as it was years ago, with a new framework popping up every day, new libraries and frameworks are still being actively developed to bridge the gap and lack of features in the top web development frameworks. Svelte is one such front end framework.
Let get to the most popular front end frameworks for web development:
React is amongst the widely utilized and popular open-source web development frameworks. It is being actively developed by Facebook and volunteers.
React got popular due to the virtual document object model (DOM) which enables it to enhance performance of web apps and PWA significantly. It utilizes JSX syntax and is compatible with a lot of plugins, libraries and workflows along with excellent community support.
Let’s get to the pros and cons.
React, among the best frontend frameworks for web development, is widely used by Facebook, Netflix, Uber, Airbnb, Skype, Pinterest and many more.
React is used to make Single page web applications along with static and dynamic websites. Wide range of libraries help you prototype your vision with unparalleled speed.
VueJS is another popular web development framework which has one of the easier learning curves of all. It combines the strongpoint of React which is Virtual DOM along with those of Angular which is View Layer.
There are several pros and cons of using Vue.JS.
As one of the top front end framework of 2021, VueJS is adopted by many companies namely Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu, Behance, Xiaomi and others.
VueJS can be used to develop single page applications at both small and large scales. Easy learning curve helps you get started quickly.
Angular is also another popular web development framework created by Google. Its predecessor AngularJS was introduced in 2010 and isn’t developed anymore. Angular on the other hand is evolving at an unprecedented rate adding multiple features.
Its popularity and usage has surged due to its high performance. It is also being increasingly adopted by enterprises because of huge community support. Primarily used to develop PWA and multi-page apps, it is flexible enough to be used to create static as well dynamic sites.
The pros and cons of Angular are as follows
Many companies like YouTube, Walmart, NYTimes, and PayPal use Angular for various services. Angular is versatile and performant, hence it can be used to create everything from static/dynamic sites to SPAs and PWAs.
Strong Typescript support makes it enterprise ready.
Svelte, an upcoming web development framework has made great strides in popularity and rightfully so. It actually compiles JS code instead of interpreting it at runtime. This is the reason that it is extremely speedy and is independent of any framework.
This has also resulted in smaller application sizes. The modular nature of Svelte also enables developers to write components that utilize pure HTML, CSS and JS.
Svelte is gaining popularity among popular companies such as GoDaddy, IBM, Rakuten and Phillips.
Svelte has all the batteries included so it can be used to create just about anything, from user interfaces to entire apps. Thus, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Svelte is one of the best front end frameworks to learn in 2021.
jQuery is one of the most popular and oldest front end frameworks around. Introduced in 2006, its popularity peaked around 2013-14 and has been on the decline ever since. But it is still one of the top frameworks in-use today. jQuery provided standard DOM manipulation APIs at the time when JS was still developing.
It reduces the need to write excessive code and provides ease of use along with simplicity. Due to its wide reach and extensive usage on the web, a large community has been built around it. Various learning resources and examples are also widely available.
jQuery is used by tech giants such as Twitter, Udemy, Stack, and LinkedIn. It can be used to create Ajax based web applications, handle multiple events and perform animations.
Due to its cross platform device agnostic behaviour, developers have widely adapted it to create intriguing and eye-catching user interfaces and animations.
Ember is another contender for top frontend frameworks of 2021. It is similar to Angular in a way that it too takes a batteries included approach. From MVC architecture to routers and data layers to testing tools, all is built into the application by default.
Ember can handle complexities of modern web applications on desktops, tablets as well as mobile. Ember has a very strict convention, which can prove to be inflexible for some developers. Beginners might also find it hard to begin with and thus it can hamper with wider adoption
Ember is used by major corporations like LinkedIn, Twitch, DigitalOcean and Groupon. It can be used to create a wide range of applications like social networks, streaming sites, hosting services and much more.
It is highly opinionated which means there are virtually no ways one could go wrong. It also means there is less flexibility to experiment with. Ember is one of the popular front end frameworks used for large scale projects that benefit from it extensively.
Another popular lightweight framework used to create web applications based on MVC paradigm is Backbone.js. This is an open source framework that utilizes events, to bind models(data) and view(document object model – DOM). Using Backbone, one can create responsive web and mobile applications in a properly structured format.
It efficiently separated business and user interface allowing ample flexibility for changes. More than 100 extensions and plugins are available to aid and improve web app quality.
Backbone.js, one of the best frontend frameworks of 2021, is used by Hulu, NextCloud, Pandora, Trello, Soundcloud among many others.
BackboneJS makes development of application frontend easier by providing various building blocks such as models, views, events, routers and collections.
It can be used to build static and dynamic sites that are light on resource consumption.
Bootstrap is a CSS framework used for creating responsive and mobile friendly website user interfaces. It was created by Twitter and is now one of the most popular frontend frameworks. It provides an excellent default and even the most beginner developers find it easy to use.
It is available via both npm package and CDNs. Recently, several areas of existing components have been refreshed, jQuery dependency has been removed and a large number of icons have been added. All of this results in performance speed up and reduction in development time whilst enhancing the eye-catchy user interface.
Bootstrap, an excellent choice among the web development frameworks, is actively used by Spotify, Twitter, Udemy, Robinhood, Lyft and many more. It can be used to create user-friendly and eye catchy interfaces.
Due to its mobile first approach, several hours of development time can be saved. Hence, Bootstrap is the best front end framework for web development.
Material UI was introduced in 2014 with a goal to bring Android’s material UI to the web with React. MaterialUI provides hundreds of ready made components that add some serious functionality along with a consistent UI to your web app.
Using MaterialUI can give your web application an almost native look and feel. It also uses React under the hood, and as a result provides high performance
Bethesda, Medium, Google, Scale incorporate MaterialUI front end framework in their services.
It can be used to create React applications with near native interfaces as quickly as possible. It provides essential stuff out of the box with enough customizability. As a result, this framework is an excellent choice for modern dynamic applications that are heavy on useful features and easy on user interfaces.
One of the best frontend frameworks for enterprises is Foundation which was developed by Zurb and volunteers.
It is one of the more advanced frontend frameworks that incorporated Sass stylesheets opening routes to customization. In addition to plain HTML, CSS and JS it features reusable components and css grids.
Brands such as Adobe, Disney, Samsung, EA have utilized Foundation as a front end framework.
Foundation can be used to create modular CSS components along with modern and unique looking websites.
There are no best frontend frameworks. However the framework you choose might make or break your project. Hence it is of utmost importance to analyze all the aspects of the most popular front end frameworks and make an informed decision. The various parameters must weight the importance of multiple aspects such as:
Use Cases – Each framework has its optimal use cases. In certain types of projects one framework might perform better than others while in other projects it might not. Hence some hands on experience or prior knowledge is required.
Availability of Learning Resources – There are times when you might require a real life example of the said or similar project to understand the implementation. In this case, the greater number of external resources available, the faster you can power through your roadblock. Proper and extensive documentation along with books, tutorials and articles expose you to a variety of examples and concepts.
Popularity – From a business standpoint, a time tested and supported framework is far more beneficial than the bleeding edge. Hence, popularity plays a major role. More popular a framework is, the easier it is to debug problems and find help online. Using resources such as StackOverflow and other forums, one can easily get help.
Active Development – At some point of time, there might be a requirement of external libraries to enhance the functionality while not reinventing the wheel. If the framework is actively developed, there are high chances that several third party libraries and plugins are also being developed and will continue being developed for a significant amount of time.
Oftentimes there is a Twitter or Reddit war on which are the best frontend frameworks. Why should I pick A over B? X is better than Y, use X !!
But, it shouldn’t and doesn’t matter. A user would only interact with the interface. Hence UI/UX design should be the focus. It has to be simple and seamless. Many companies such as Facebook, Google, Netflix focus on user experience rather than the underlying technology. They design websites that are powerful, complex yet have simple, intriguing and easily navigable user interfaces.
Some developers often advocate for a particular frontend framework because of fewer performance roadblocks experienced. But oftentimes, it is the underlying code that is inefficient and is causing the said roadblock rather than the design of the framework.
Thus, it is important to focus on design and end user goals rather than choosing the best frontend framework. After all, a framework is just a tool to help you simplify web application development.
I hope you find my list of best frontend frameworks of 2021 useful. Do not hesitate to delve deep into one and get your hands dirty. It will help you gain deeper insights of modern frontend frameworks and pick an optimal solution. There is no one framework rules all. It is an always evolving picture. So make sure to adapt to it.
So, now I believe that you have a clear idea on how to choose a frontend framework rather than which frontend framework to choose. Pinpointing one out of a myriad of available frameworks is not an intuitive task and neither does it add value to the debate.
I hope that this article provided you with a deeper insight and helped you make an informed choice.