Modern Web Applications

12 JavaScript Frameworks and Libraries for Building Modern Web Applications

6-Jun-2016

The usage statistics posted on various websites depict the massive popularity of JavaScript as a client-side programming languages. JavaScript, along with HTML5 and CSS3, is also used widely by web developers to build responsive websites that look good and deliver optimal navigation on both computers and mobile devices. But JavaScript is designed as a lightweight and interpreted programming language, and has first class functions. Also, it lacks many advanced features provided by other modern programming languages.

But the developers can use a variety of frameworks and libraries to build JavaScript-based applications rapidly. The JavaScript libraries further make it easier for developers to integrate the client-side programming language with other widely used web technologies like Java, PHP and Ruby. Also, some of these libraries have full-stack capabilities and often regarded as JavaScript frameworks. Hence, it becomes essential for each web developers to know some of the commonly used JavaScript frameworks and libraries.

Brief Overview of 12 Widely Used JavaScript Frameworks and Libraries

1) JQuery

Despite being a lightweight JavaScript library, jQuery is currently being used by more than 54,000,000 live websites. In addition to being fast and feature-rich, jQuery further helps programmers to add functionalities to the website without writing additional code. The simple syntax rules of jQuery enable programmers to create animations, navigate a document, select DOM elements and develop AJAX applications rapidly. Also, the programmers can combine jQuery with other robust IDEs like Visual Studio. The mobile version of jQuery further enables programmers to create cross-platform mobile apps with commonly used web technologies like HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript and AJAX.

2) Node.js

As a cross-platform runtime engine, Node.js enables programmers to write both client-side and server-side code in JavaScript. It further executes JavaScript code through Google’s V8 JavaScript engine. The developers can further avail the modules included in Node.js to accomplish core functionalities like data streaming, file system I/O, binary data and networking. Node.js further uses non-blocking functions to execute commands in parallel and allows operations to run asynchronously. The asynchronous execution boosts the speed of JavaScript applications drastically.

3) AngularJS

AngularJS make it easier for developers to write clean and maintainable code by allowing them to use HTML as a template language. It allows programmers to use HTML just like XML, and add functionality to the application by extending HTML elements. Also, the framework enables developers to add functionality to the front-end and back-end of the application with less code. As Angular is a model-view-controller (MVC) framework, the developers can build and maintain the web application easily by keeping the business logic and user interface separate. Also, they can take advantage of the two-way data binding feature of Angular to implement AJAX functionality simply by creating custom HTML tags.

4) Meteor.js

The JavaScript framework is developed by using Node.js. Meteor.js provides a foundation for executing the client-side and server-side code written in JavaScript. At the same time, it enables programmers to generate cross-platform code by targeting the web and popular mobile platforms like iOS and Android. The JavaScript stack embedded into Meteor further makes it easier for programmers to add several functionalities to the website without writing longer lines of code. Also, the developers can integrate Meteor seamlessly with a number of commonly used web frameworks and tools.

5) React.js

React comes with features to simplify development of user interfaces. It further makes traditional data binding more effective by implementing one-way reflective data binding. Many developers even use React along with other MVC framework to create the view or user interface of the application more robust. React further boosts the performance of the application by replacing its DOM with a simpler programming model. Also, the framework allows developers to render server-side code with Node.js.

6) Ember.js

As a MVC framework, Ember comes with features to simplify development of front-end user interfaces. Like AngularJS, Ember also supports two way data binding. Hence, it becomes easier for developers to keep the view updated when changes are made to the model and keep the model updated when the view changes. At the same time, Ember allows programmers to boost the performance of the website by rendering DOM on sever side. The developers can take advantage of the Fastboot.js module included in Ember to render DOM on sever side without putting extra effort.

7) Aurelia.js

Despite being a new JavaScript framework, Aurelia.js is being managed by Durandal Inc along with a highly professional community. As the framework is designed based on AngularJS and Durandal, the programmers familiar with these tools can easily migrate to Aurelia. In addition to being highly modularized, Aurelia also contains many independent libraries. The developers can use specific libraries to add the required functionalities to the JavaScript application. At the same time, they also have option to customize the framework according to their specific needs by extending specific libraries.

8) Polymer.js

The JavaScript framework was released by Google in 2013. Polymer is designed with features to extend HTML capabilities with web components. As a browser-based technology, web components allow programmers to extend and customize HTML element. For instance, the developers can create custom elements that work just like standard DOM elements by extending standard HTML elements through web components. They also have option to add functionality to the custom web application by using a wide variety of web components.

9) Backbone.js

Despite being simple and easy to learn, Backbone.js is currently used by a large number of large and high-traffic websites including FourSquare, Walmart and Pinterest. As Backbone.js is both lightweight and flexible, the developers can easily integrate it with other JavaScript libraries and development tools. Also, they have option to add custom functionality to the application by writing their own JavaScript code.

10) Vue.js

Despite being relatively new, Vue.js has become popular among modern web developers. The open source JavaScript framework is developed based on MVVM design paradigm, while being inspired by other mature JavaScript frameworks like AngularJS, KnockoutJS and ReactiveJS. It enables programmers to create web application by using a variety of reusable and decoupled components. At the same time, it does not require developers to use and manage dependencies. It allows developers install the required packages efficiently by using a robust tool like NPM or Bower.

11)  Mercury.js

Mercury is designed as a modular front-end development framework. It is inspired by other mature JavaScript frameworks, and supports virtual DOM rendering. Its modular architecture enables developers to extend and customize Mercury.js according to their specific needs. Mercury requires users to develop a project into three distinct pieces – input, state and render. Also, it allows developers to use virtual DOM to update and manipulate the real DOM.

12) Knockout.js

Unlike other JavaScript frameworks, Knockout is designed based on MVVC design pattern. The MVVC design paradigm makes Knockout different from other JavaScript libraries. Knockout.js further comes with a number of useful features including declarative binding, dependency tracking and templating. Its automatic UI refresh feature further keeps the user interface updated each time state of the data model changes. But many developers complain that Knockout is not being updated more frequently like other frameworks.

On the whole, each web developer has option to choose from many JavaScript frameworks and libraries. He can further take advantage of the frameworks and libraries without increasing project overheads as they are open source and free. But the features and functionality of individual JavaScript frameworks and libraries differ. Hence, it is always important for the developer to pick the framework that complements all needs of the project. Also, he can consider combining multiple JavaScript frameworks and libraries to boost the functionality and performance of the web application without putting extra time and effort.

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