Front-end development: The race for dominance
The fiercely active world of front-end web development is a place that’s frequently bombarded with new technologies revolutionizing how we interact with the internet, each passing day making it a little better. From tools and platforms to multiple programming languages, developers work feverishly for web page experience to be a more functional and responsive one for the users.
For posterity’s sake we’d like to dissect and compare specifically three of these frameworks that are extremely popular among developers right now - Angular, React and Vue. But before we do that, let’s take a little detour to talk briefly about this web development framework called the Jamstack that has caught everyone’s fancy lately.
What is Jamstack?
As to why Jamstack has created such ripples in the sea of front-end technologies, it’s quite easy to understand. Jamstack steps away from the traditional practice of coupled web development frameworks by offering a decoupled architecture for easier deployment and development workflow.
So, because the front-end and the backend are now decoupled, front-end developers don’t have to be full stack experts, which enables them to be able to do simply what they’re good at - build websites. Jamstack is built on the principles of pre-rendering and decoupling, which literally means web and application building can do away with the dependence on costly servers as websites can now be served directly from a content delivery network (CDN).
Now, this comes as a major advantage for website owners as CDN servers offer serious benefits including quicker page loading time, cutting down on bandwidth consumption costs drastically, enhanced web security via DDoS mitigation and a more resilient server to withstand bigger traffic. Read this piece for a more detailed explanation on CDN and its benefits.
Coming back to Jamstack, applications can now be split into small pieces that are easier for humans to process and understand. The arrival of a serverless technology served this idea as a standard model in building seamless apps with scalable architecture at their disposal, which is primarily why it's gaining so much traction.
Coined by the CEO of Netlify, Mathias Biilmann Christensen or Matt Biilmann as he’s popularly known, the JAM in Jamstack can be broken down into:
API - Reusable APIs are a great way to save money and reduce waste. These reusable mechanisms are called application programming interfaces because they provide an interface between your application and its underlying technology stack.
In this case, remote procedure calls on behalf of any web service call made through them from client side code running as partials inside HTML pages hosted by websites like Facebook that you will be able to deploy globally without having a dedicated staff member for maintenance.
Markup - The advantage of prebuilt markup is that static web pages or HTML files can speed up the loading time of static websites for optimal performance. Templated site-generators or build tools are often used at deploy time with the goal of generating fast bootstrap pages from templates that provide an initial overview about what each part of your website does without having to spend too much time on reading documentation every single time someone requests information from you online.
For those who might be interested, you can visit this page if you wish to join the Jamstack community and participate in events that could be happening in your region. From what we can tell, it’s a very bustling network that meets up all over the globe to promote the architecture and share their experiences.
What is a static website?
Static websites are faster, lighter and cheaper to serve than traditional dynamic ones. They also offer you greater flexibility when it comes to content management as well as front-end interface because static sites map the request response cycle between server side code, which is compiled before being served up by browsers with prebuilt HTML/CSS.
This means that there's no need for client script languages like jQuery or AngularJS at your end. Static sites will be more cost-efficient if you don't have any unnecessary load time to slow you down.
Static websites are a great option for companies that want greater control over their content and the speed at which it can be delivered. Static sites also have many benefits, including cost-efficiency in serving files since they're lightweight compared to normal dynamic websites.
The latter acts on each individual request made by visitors browsing through pages loaded from an underlying database or script file like CSS. With static sites you don't even need any server space, thus removing your concerns about high costs.
A Jamstack website is not just about static webpages. It can offer users a dynamic and modernized web experience as well through intermittently generated fresh static web content or providing updated content through API calls. This dynamic nature of the layout makes it more alive than your average site with blocks loading all at once and then fading away after they're done displaying their contents.
Why should Jamstack matter for enterprise sites?
Businesses that want to be successful online need a great and immersive user experience. The first impression is what will prompt users to make their next move. Much of the responsibility in creating that experience rests on a front-end developer and the architecture they adopt.
Jamstack is not just a framework, it's an entire methodology for building static websites or developing and designing APIs that can be used as building blocks with the help of a stack of sturdy tools and technologies. It’s also a philosophy that simplifies web development by utilizing tools like bundled components, static files from CDN and third-party API calls for functionality beyond what you can do in your own codebase.
This will ultimately result in an easier life when developing as well as avoiding the problem of having outdated libraries due to outages or other issues since they're all hosted remotely - saving time on deployment too.
The reason this works is because all resources on the client side are bundled in its original source code (rather than relying externally) so no additional requests get sent back from browser tabs waiting for dynamically generated content. This drastically reduces load times as well as improves HTML5 compatibility across browsers, leading us towards better security in the fast-paced network system of today.
So, with Jamstack being touted as a revolutionary front-end solutions architecture, what are the benefits that it brings for enterprise websites? Let’s take a look through these points:
1. Enhanced scalability
A Jamstack website doesn't need a load-bearing server farm to function. Static content can be placed on the CDN, allowing for dynamic scaling and more visitors without worrying about performance issues as they arise from increased traffic loads. Read this to learn how to speed up static content delivery using a CDN.
2. Safety and security
The Jamstack architecture is the perfect solution for companies looking to avoid any kind of vulnerability and make their sites as secure as possible. Unlike other architectures with built-in servers, databases or services that are often vulnerable themselves, Jamstack sites rely on third party APIs, which means if one of these fails your site will still be up but may lack some features like account management tools due to its proximity in terms of codebase.
This makes it much easier than ever for a developer maintain the integrity of their code while also protecting themselves from potential data breaches. Here are some API security best practices that you should be aware of.
3. Speed and performance
The Jamstack architecture of your website enables better performance by serving pre-rendered static files and using CDNs across the globe. This will ensure that no matter where a user is located, they have an optimal browsing experience with fast loading times for all pages on your site, reducing database queries to a great extent as well.
Standard CDN hosting is and will always be cheaper than traditional hosting and will save businesses a good deal of money in the long run, even after making a CDN vs traditional hosting pros and cons study. Reduced operational costs owing to a plugin-free and built-in database-free setup makes it the perfect choice for enterprises.
5. Making development a better experience
The Jamstack community is a very active one where developers are continuously engaged in creating better and improved open-source tools that will help them cut down on website maintenance costs.
Adopting a CI/CD (Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery) pipeline by using automation tools like Jenkins X, Tekton and GitLab helps developers automate various steps in development, including building, testing, deploying and even reporting. Here’s a look at some of the most popular CI/CD tools that developers love to use.
Angular vs React vs Vue: How do they compare?
Coming back to the primary focus of the article, the race is on for the best Jamstack front-end framework / technology that will reign supreme — and it's not an easy one. Newcomers like React are quickly becoming popular, while legacy programs such as Angular have been left in a position of disadvantage with their outdated features set compared to what developers demand today (and will tomorrow).
The rise of Vue has given this already hotly contested market even more competition: its growing share combined with huge downloads from enthusiastic users makes it stand out against other frameworks who might be lacking popularity at present times but could still take off if they improved in certain areas further down development paths where newer solutions excel.
Regardless of these fluctuating trends, Angular, React and Vue are all hot development tools in the market right now. Why? Because they each offer something different for developers to choose from when building their project.
But what will be most popular Jamstack technology by the end of 2021? To find that out let us examine how these stacks compare to one another.
With 521,869 weekly downloads as of the 28th day of the ninth month of this year, Angular is an open-source framework based on TypeScript that clearly means business. As a full rewrite of the AngularJS framework developed by the same team that built it in the first place - Google’s Angular team, it was originally released in 2010 and went through several versions through the years.
A lot of people would swear by AngularJS calling it the most important framework for front-end developers who want to create an advantageous user experience. The time spent coding becomes less mundane and repetitive with the help of this framework, opening up more room to fit in more work for the developers.
If front-end developers want an advantageous user experience while designing their apps then Angular is what they should use as part of this process (especially since there’s no need in backend work). However, if you're working primarily on backend development then this platform may not be your best bet in the design department either, since most of what goes into apps comes from there.
Angular is a powerful framework that can be used to create exciting and engaging front-end applications. This software has been designed to handle enterprise level projects led only by highly experienced front-end developers, which means it’s uncharted territory for backend developers.
- The fact that Angular has been developed by Google should be enough to rest your fears when it comes to reliability, accentuated by their practice of rolling out periodic updates and reports. It also has plenty of detailed documentation for when you need assistance or answers on common questions like "How do I…?"
Plus, it's developed by experts in their field who know what they're doing, which means if there are ever any changes made to Angular itself then developers will be able to make necessary adjustments without much hassle.
- With Angular, developers not only have access to one of the most popular frameworks available in the market today, but also to a vast selection of third-party integrations that make their life easier. With so many tools all in one place, it isn’t hard to see why this framework is the go-to for them.
- Another big advantage that Angular offers is what is known as dependency injection (DI), through which features and services can be injected from external sources as opposed to creating them, thereby saving precious time during development.
- Angular facilitates the MVVM (Model–view–viewmodel) pattern better than the MVC (Model-view-controller) pattern, which means that GUI development can be separated so developers can work independently on the same section through two-way data binding.
- Although beefed up with a lot of advantages, one of the biggest challenges that Angular poses is the difficulty level in learning that developers in their beginner stages have to face. It brings its own notions of how things should function, which can take time to get used to, especially when starting at such an advanced level as web development.
- Another major downside to this framework is its constrained capabilities in the SEO department, which is kind of ironic because it’s developed by Google and that’s the world’s leading search engine we’re talking about.
Angular is a great for building single-page web applications. But, since Angular sites are only rendered on the client side and not all pages can be seen by search crawlers due to their limitations in accessing content within an individual document frame with regards to SEO efforts, you'll have trouble ranking higher.
However, knowing Google and its penchant for rolling out updates, we hope to see a swift end to this handicap soon.
- The next one has us puzzled too. I’m referring to the long line of Angular versions that have been rolled out since its inception right down to the current Version 12, which was released May 12, 2021.
Makes you think - are these people going to stop anytime soon or will they make it even more challenging for beginners to get used to the framework?
Despite the fair amount of advantages and disadvantages that Angular brings forth, it’s worth mentioning that it finds patrons in some of the leading names in the world of enterprise websites, including IBM, Forbes, PayPal, Samsung, Delta Airlines, The Weather Channel, Deutsche Bank and Upwork.
By no means that is an ordinary feat. And the reason is because React is a powerful, dynamic framework for developing websites and applications that has quickly become one of the most popular options in today's web development landscape. Not only does it provide an efficient way of building user interfaces but also offers backwards compatibility.
A burgeoning number of enterprises chose to go with React relatively recently but have already seen amazing results thanks to its versatility. You can use different libraries together without worrying about conflicts between them due to how well-designed they all are when working within React's ecosystem.
One of the notable features of React is a virtual Document Object Model (DOM) through which it keeps track of components that have changed and simply renders just those on the page. React's virtual DOM in combination with its reconciliation algorithm provides a major performance boost by not having to calculate CSS styles or layout information for parts that won't change.
- ReactJS is a fantastic tool for any developer because it is open-source, which literally means any developer with the right tools will find it easy to learn how React works, what features are available in different versions of this software package as well as documentation on using them effectively.
What’s more, with a constantly improving development platform, developers will have no problem staying up with the most recent updates that are being made available in order to offer their customers even better products than before.
- The virtual DOM in React makes the user experience better and speeds up the development because it improves the speed of updates, increases performance (especially when using hot reloading) and enables rapid development by not slowing down progress or requiring extra steps.
The framework only affects interface elements while not affecting any other parts of an app or site, which means you’ll get faster program execution as well.
- Another big advantage that React offers is reusability of components. React isolates components so each change is isolated and accurate to a single version instead of affecting every place where that component might show up on its own accord or because someone else made an update elsewhere.
ReactJS mitigates this issue and makes your website readable by Google and other search engines.
It also presents developers with the unique ability to exercise greater control over delicate projects.
But, on the other hand some people think its complexity and steep learning curve make them want to avoid using React at all costs.
- React is constantly changing, pushing many developers to believe that it’s getting difficult to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of React technologies. At times this can make their lives a little more challenging since they may need some help in figuring out how things work or what has changed recently on an API level that was just released.
But, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. With these changes the language itself is solidifying with better API stability over time as well as adding new features for even further improvement.
- The open-source nature of ReactJS means that developers can create their own support documents to help them with the framework. This is a problem because documentation can be inconsistent or of poor quality, with only some resources providing helpful information about how different libraries work in concert with each other.
It's hard enough figuring out which tool should go where without having guidance from well-written tutorials that capture what you need when things aren’t intuitive after reading them once.
As you can see, most of the cons that are attached with React are preferential in nature, meaning individual developers not preferring something in the framework, such as its rapid changes. Technically, it would be safe to say that React could easily mop the floor with any other front-end framework available today.
Some of the biggest companies that are ardent patrons of ReactJS include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Netflix, Yahoo! Mail, Dropbox, Atlassian and Salesforce.
The youngest in the stable, Vue or Vue.js is a progressive front-end framework used for building both web and app interfaces and has steadily gained momentum since its release by Evan You in 2014. Vue clocked 2,564,162 weekly downloads as of September 29, 2021 and has been described by its creator as a customized version of the best that Angular has to offer, albeit in a much lighter form.
A unique feature of Vue is that it allows developers to extend basic HTML elements and create reusable components that can be attached with behavior. At an advanced level, a component is basically just any instance created using the compiler's options for customization, such as size or appearance. In essence it redefines what would have been considered "static".
- Thanks to its light weight structure, Vue.js framework is convenient for developing projects of various complexities - both small individual and large enterprise applications alike. This in turn speeds up the development process, especially the speed at which libraries can be loaded with this tool.
- Just like React, Vue also follows the virtual DOM (VDOM) concept when it comes to view rendering. The point is that you can easily make changes in your interface by simply rendering differences between what's displayed on screen and how it should look like.
All of this happens transparently so users don't see anything other than their own content while browsing through pages.
- Vue's two-way data binding (Yes, picked up from Angular) is another big advantage and lets you keep your UI in sync with model changes. A connected component holds the latest information, making it easy to update other elements that depend on this value, like text fields and checkboxes through simple property names.
- Vue.js is the new kid on the block, but it may be one of your favorite tools for developing web applications in a user-friendly environment because its easy and straightforward nature facilitates development without becoming too heavy once an application has been set up - unlike other frameworks.
- The allure of the Vue framework is that it can be easily reusable. The catch is that it can be reused when programmers have figured out how to create reusable components in Vue, but only if these are properly harnessed by an experienced team that knows what they're doing.
The more complicated your app becomes with multiple functions interacting with each other or needing special integration into an infrastructure, then this could become a problem for you in terms of getting everything working together nicely without any bugs popping up along the way.
- Vue.js is a modern framework that has been gaining popularity in recent years, but it does not have the same stability and support as other more established frameworks such as Angular or React, which make them ideal for large-scale projects.
Vue’s limited size in both community and tools won’t be much of a support when you need your application to work seamlessly day after day without any technical hiccups.
- Flexibility is a double-edged sword. Flexible code is great, but it can also lead to more errors and delays.
When several approaches are applied at once by different teams in a project there will be less time for everyone else because they have no idea what you're doing, which results into long debugging sessions where your program doesn't work properly as well.
- One of the downsides to using Vue is that sometimes developers may run into binding problems because reactivity causes a page reload only when something changes on it and makes mistakes when reading data from flat rendering code instead like React does.
- The reason that Vue is relatively new also poses one more disadvantage - lack of developers who are experienced in the technology. The fact that it has gone / goes through frequent updates makes it even more difficult to find one.
With so many cons attached to this framework, you might wonder if it’s any good at all. However, there are many areas where Vue would be a good fit other than building single-page applications and user interfaces. Some of these areas include prototyping, integration and UI development.
Some of the top companies that use Vue.js include Nintendo, Adobe, Gitlab, Xiaomi, Grammarly and Behance.
As you can see from the facts and numbers laid out in the article, Vue is catching up to React fast, even though React seems to be comfortably ahead in the game compare to Angular and Vue. At least the download count sure seems to point in that direction.
But in all fairness to all three of these amazing front-end technologies, the ultimate decision rests on you and your requirements from the framework. At 0707, our full stack developers sharpen their skills on all three of these technologies to be able to lend their expertise to a diverse plethora of clients.
Get in touch with our developers today if you’re still unsure which framework will best suit your business needs. You’ll not just receive some useful guidance, but the services of our skilled developers as well who are always hungry for newer challenges.