Top Frontend Frameworks to use in 2021

Jaimik Patel July 25, 2021

Top Frontend Frameworks - Cover Image

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.

Many front end frameworks are available in different languages. Of all the available technologies, Javascript popularity has shot up exponentially. The latest front end frameworks build upon vanilla JavaScript. They ease up the development effort required while maintaining the modular properties. Reusable code is another area where these modern frameworks shine.

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.

 

What front end frameworks are currently trending?

Top Frontend frameworks npm download trend
Source: www.npmtrends.com

Analysing data from NPM trends as well as the state of js 2020, it is evident that Javascript based front end frameworks are on rise. The big guns, React, Angular and Vue have seen a spike in their usage. This can be attributed to the platform agnostic nature of Javascript which has led to its wider adoption. The top 3 front end frameworks are growing day by day.

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:

 

Quick Links

  1. React
  2. Vue
  3. Angular
  4. Svelte
  5. jQuery
  6. Ember
  7. Backbone
  8. Bootstrap
  9. MaterialUI
  10. Foundation

 

React

Top Frontend Frameworks - React

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.

Pros

  • Code Reusability via Components which allows developers to use it multiple times in their code
  • Usage of Virtual DOM allows efficient rendering where only certain part of webpage is rerendered speeding up performance
  • Server side rendering is a massive boost for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Large ecosystem of tools, plugins and workflow provide flexibility and freedom to developers

Cons

  • JSX might hamper with the speed of learning for developers just beginning to use the framework
  • Fast paced development has led to constant changes with which documentation hasn’t kept up
  • React is too unopinionated i.e. it is concerned with only view layer in MVC architecture

Use Cases

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.

 

Vue.js

Top Frontend Frameworks - Vue

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.

It is like others interoperable with both typescript and javascript making it versatile and flexible. VueJS can be used to create Single Page Apps efficiently with fewer resources evident from its tiny package size. VueJS is the highest starred GitHub repository which depicts its rising popularity.

There are several pros and cons of using Vue.JS.

Pros

  • Easily Understandable Code due to simple structure and similarity to HTML and Javascript
  • Small package size of 25KB enables developers to download and get started in no time
  • Comprehensive documentation detailing each and every corner of the framework
  • Two way data binding to keep model and view in sync

Cons

  • Probable issue of language barrier as most of the components and plugins are written in Chinese
  • Relatively smaller community might be a problem when immediate support is required
  • Less VueJS plugins as compared to React and Angular might slow down the development pace

Use Cases

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

Top Frontend Frameworks - Angular

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

Pros

  • Angular provides built-in 2 way data binding which synchronizes model and view reducing the amount of additional code required
  • Usage of dependency injecting disassociates external dependencies from components
  • Ahead-of-time compiler reduces overheads and provides a significant performance boost
  • Plethora of plugins, libraries and integrations available which enhance the flexibility and ease of use
  • Large and growing community support along with Google’s backing

Cons

  • Due to the simple nature of client side rendering of SPAs, search engines aren’t able to crawl efficiently. Hence more effort is required to make an app SEO friendly
  • Angular has a bit high entry barrier as frequent code changes along with opinionated nature make it a tad difficult for beginners
  • Angular is seeing declining trend in satisfaction and usage (Source: State of JS 2020)

Use Cases

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

Top Frontend Frameworks - Svelte

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.

Pros

  • Absence of Virtual DOM results in less memory intensive applications
  • Code is compiled into vanilla JS modules which means it is independent of any framework
  • Faster and scalable performance as compared to React or Vue
  • Very low entry barrier and easy learning curve

Cons

  • Lack of proper backing from a tech giant might drive off those looking of long term support
  • Small (yet growing) community might not be able to provide immediate answers and support
  • Standardized packages and tooling support is currently limited due to it lower popularity

Use Cases

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

Top Frontend Frameworks - jQuery

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.

Pros

  • Active development with extensive API documentation
  • Very short learning curve along with great community support
  • Wide compatibility across all popular browsers and various types of devices
  • Built in animation and effects functionality
  • Easy to perform Ajax requests with a dedicated server

Cons

  • Performance not on par with modern frameworks
  • Vanilla JavaScript along with modern browsers already do almost all of the things jQuery does, hence there is no incentive to use jQuery and add extra overheads
  • Large download size hampers with load times

Use Cases

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

Top Frontend Frameworks - Ember

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

Pros

  • High performance along with availability of myriad of tools to speed up development cycle
  • Extensive documentation and well-organised framework structure
  • Two way data-binding provides developer with excellent defaults, so that they can focus on core tasks rather than reinventing the wheel
  • Rock solid stability with stagnation (very few breaking changes and extremely backwards compatible)

Cons

  • Very steep learning curve which may discourage wide adoption
  • Extremely resource heavy frontend framework for basic web applications
  • Flaky community support might make learning and debugging process more difficult

Use Cases

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.

 

Backbone.js

Top Frontend Frameworks - Backbone

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.

Pros

  • Backbone is an ultra light framework which avoids overheads
  • Developers engaged in active development
  • Diverse plugin ecosystem
  • Easy to learn for new developers

Cons

  • More boilerplate code required for basic projects
  • Trends show that the framework is becoming less popular day by day
  • Framework doesn’t provide a clear structure hence architecture is unclear sometimes

Use Cases

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

Top Frontend Frameworks - Bootstrap

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.

Pros

  • Consistent UI and compatibility with all major browsers
  • Extensive documentation
  • Practically low to no boilerplate code required
  • Multitude of themes and plugins available

Cons

  • Majority of the websites look the same if no heavy customization is done
  • Lot of time and efforts required to override defaults for heavy customization
  • Bootstrap designed website could be a bit heavy as it contains a lot of big files

Use Cases

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.

Along with Javascript or any other JS based framework it can be used to create full featured web applications.

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

Top Frontend Frameworks - MaterialUI

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

Pros

  • Component based design allows code reusability
  • Compatible with all the major libraries like React, Vue etc.
  • Flexible and easy to start

Cons

  • Components are not easily customisable
  • Long and exhaustive code
  • Lacking documentation

Use Cases

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.

 

Foundation

Top Frontend Frameworks - Foundation

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.

Pros

  • Flexible grids allow designers to break free front the conventional layouts
  • Built in form validation library along with RTL support
  • Dedicated user interface for different types of devices
  • Variety of learning resources and examples available

Cons

  • Beginners may find it a bit daunting
  • Lack of a wider community support as compared to Bootstrap

Use Cases

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.

 

How to choose web development frameworks ?

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.

 

Why should not a framework be your prime focus ?

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.

 

Conclusion

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.

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