Top 5 Javascript Frameworks for Web and Mobile App Development

Top 5 Javascript Frameworks for Web and Mobile App Development

Creating modern mobile and web applications is a complex process. Gone are the days when a web app can be created by chaining together multiple HTML pages into a seemingly coherence workflow. Nowadays application owners want their application to perform all and everything on a single page itself. This means lesser work for designers, but more headache for developers.

And that’s where the idea of writing some interesting JavaScript frameworks comes into picture.

Today’s applications involve lots of sections each communicating with each other, and each on the same page. To sooth the feathers of these harassed developers, some coding sages came up with a brilliant idea of creating frontend JavaScript frameworks which can help app developers and designers to patch together an app in a faster manner way more neatly. These frameworks were great for designers at first, but they turned out to be awesome for developers and in no time they found their way onto the web and mobile app development worlds.

Why Frontend JavaScript Frameworks?

The process of web app development starts with the idea of how the app will look on screen. So far so good. Next, these images are HTMLised by a frontend designer which is then converted by the developer into a fully working webs development page. But hey! Here is the catch. In all my experience as a designer-cum-developer all these years, I have never seen a situation where the final look and feel remains the same after the developer comes up with their output. In almost every case the designers and developers have to get together in the end to work on ‘patches’ so as to get as close to the original look as possible. And here we are talking about simple multiple page web apps. When it comes to single page web apps, the scene usually gets way more uglier.

Hence came the need to standardize the web app designing so that the backend workflow injection part can be easily coded. And going by the example of HTML and CSS frameworks such as Bootstrap and Foundation, coders created JavaScript frontend frameworks to formulate web apps.

Now designers can code the main part of the app feeling secure that whatever they build will not be messed up in the development process. Did this eliminate entirely the need for designers and developers to sit together at the end of the app development phase to give the right finishing touches? I might refrain from declaring this on record! However the efforts of this phase have become much less stressful and much less time consuming.

Time to check out these magic frameworks:

Complete JS Frameworks

There are many so called JavaScript frameworks in the market, but in reality not all are complete frameworks. That means that not every framework out there can be used to create every aspect of an app. Most of them can be categorized as a set of tools that can make your coding easier but you may have to rely on other tools as well to get the job done. To be honest its very tough to create a framework that can do everything thanks to the stubborn unique requirement of every different app in their respective environments.

AngularJS
AngularJS
The most used of all frontend JavaScript frameworks is AngularJS which has everything that any Model View Control based app might need. It’s flexible, has a lot of features, has around 800 third party modules, and has the backing of a community which has more than a million members. This is the framework that works on the concept of two-way data binding, and this was the framework that revolutionized the concept of model view controller architecture in web apps. Also, this is a comprehensive framework and reduces the need to introduce other JS libraries into the development process. Thus, helps in reducing maintenance complexities.

EmberJS
EmberJS
Lagging behind slightly in the popularity department when compared with AngularJS, EmberJS is by no means out of the race. EmberJS is the framework for those who focus on conventions rather than configurations. EmberJS has a very robust routing framework and thus is a good candidate to go with when you have complex nested routes and templates within a page.

CanJS
CanJS
CanJS is a relatively new framework so it lacks in terms of popularity. But we were greatly impressed by its ease-of-use and flexibility in our projects so I thought its prudent to include it in the list. CanJS also ranks higher than the other three in terms of performance, especially when you have to render lots of view binding. But since the framework is not as popular, you will find a smaller community support and fewer learning material related to the JS framework. CanJS needs Zepto libraries to work properly.

JavaScript toolkits that can work as frameworks

Now that we have discussed full frameworks, here are two JavaScript partial frameworks which need special mention

KnockoutJS
KnockoutJS
KnockoutJS is a very popular toolkit among JS web app designers. It’s very lightweight, has every basic view rendering feature an app would need and it’s a perfect tool for those app projects for which you may have to develop your own framework. In fact there are a lot of complete paid frameworks out in the market that are built using KnockoutJS and BackBoneJS. KnockoutJS is expert in data-bindings. It is easy to setup and easy to work upon. However KnockoutJS has no built-in features to convert plain objects into nested observable, severely limiting your ability to structure your app.

BackBoneJS
BackboneJS
BackboneJS is another popular partial framework which developers use to build their own frameworks. Aura, Chaplin, Backbone UI, Geppetto, LayoutManager, Thorax, Marionette, Vertebrae etc are all built using BackboneJS. BackboneJS is awesome if you want to define your templating or use jQuery-like event binding. However the framework Tool-kit is only for advanced developers and it has a steep learning curve. BackBoneJS is good at handling requests, module loading and request routing.

Conclusion

AngularJS, rules the popularity contest everywhere. It is also the only stand alone framework that does not need help of any other library to work, and it is also the largest frontend JS framework out there. Ember and CanJS need support from additional libraries but are great in their own ways. BackboneJS and KnockoutJS are awesome for small app development projects or for those large app development projects in which you may have to build your own framework. I would like to point out first that in no way this list was made to start a popularity contest among framework users and fans. I have shared my opinion as I see it today and would love to know what you think about these frameworks.

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Rachit Agarwal

Rachit Agarwal

Director and Co-Founder at Algoworks Technologies
Rachit is leading the mobility business development function, mobility strategy and consulting practice at Algoworks. He is an expert of all mobile technologies and has experience in managing teams involved in the development of custom iPhone/iPad/Android apps.
Rachit Agarwal

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Rachit AgarwalTop 5 Javascript Frameworks for Web and Mobile App Development
  • Cherif BOUCHELAGHEM

    CanJS works with jquery zepto dojo mootools and YUI

    • http://www.algoworks.com/ Algoworks

      Yes it works with them all and some more, however it only supports versions

      jQuery 1.8+
      Dojo 1.8+
      Mootools 1.4+
      YUI 3.4+
      Zepto 0.8+

      But as you may notice all these technologies have seen major updates in recent times so it’s better to use the latest versions.

  • http://www.alexrebula.com Alex

    As said, I think your statement that KnockoutJS “has no built-in features to convert plain objects into nested observable” is not correct, so I went on searching a bit and I see that many developers are being mislead. I think there is a way and here is my solution: http://goo.gl/TrnXcB

    • http://www.algoworks.com/ Algoworks

      @Alex, the solutions given in StackOverflow discussion is one that involves a plugin. KnockoutJS has no in-built functionality for this conversion.

      Using a plugin is a great way to workaround the shortcomings of a framework. But point is that this is something which we should already know BEFORE choosing our framework. For deciding between frameworks, we would obviously prefer one that is capable of most features on itself (inbuilt features). It is later (once we have already chosen) that we should assess what all framework compatible add-ons and plugins are also available for our specific requirements.

  • http://vedovelli.com.br/ vedovelli

    I’ve missed Vue.js in this list. It is growing fast in popularity and its brutal simplicity makes it a serious candidate to make to the list! Thanks for the post!