JavaScript Frameworks: What Are They and How Do They Work?

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JavaScript has been powering the web for over 25 years. But at least the past decade of JavaScript code has been graciously filtered through JavaScript frameworks. 

What is a JavaScript framework? JavaScript frameworks are the vessels emboldening the language to do its best work with little to no configuration.

JavaScript being one of the most popular languages of time past and now, it’s a favorite for web development both on the front and back-end. And as such, you’ll probably be in the midst of choosing a JavaScript framework quite soon.

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What Is a JavaScript Framework?

Frameworks provide developers with the basic foundation necessary for building JavaScript applicationsThis saves developers the effort of starting from scratch by utilizing a functional base to get things rolling.

In JavaScript’s case, this base includes a collection of code libraries. The libraries compile code that elicits specific functionality for the specific type of app you may be working on. In essence, the framework will define the structure of the entire application.

What Does a JavaScript Framework Do?

Each JavaScript framework serves a different purpose. JavaScript is a steadfast choice for web development and many of its frameworks revolve around this undertaking.

Building web apps and websites from start to finish can take quite a bit of work. Web frameworks – or really, JavaScript frameworks – take advantage of the fact that every website and web app have common features.

In this way, you can think of the term framework quite literally. Houses also rely on frameworks as a skeleton for the overall support and shape of an outer framing. Software frameworks do the same.

JavaScript frameworks render pre-written JavaScript code that produces routine programming features, ultimately easing development.

What’s the Difference Between a JavaScript Framework and a JavaScript Library?

With JavaScript libraries, developers call specific functions from the parent code. But developers can not call JavaScript frameworks. Instead, frameworks call and use a piece of code in a predetermined way. Frameworks define the application design.

Adopting code from frameworks is more holistic than using libraries. A framework doesn’t just offer a singular solution but a complete template for development. The advantage is more organization and greater efficiency.

The 5 Most Popular JavaScript Frameworks

There are a couple dozen JavaScript frameworks out in the ether for you to use. But for the brevity of this piece, it’s probably best to mention the most popular ones.

Here are 5 of the most popular JavaScript frameworks.

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1. Node.js

Node.js is not exactly a JavaScript framework; it’s a runtime environment. While JavaScript can be written directly into the web browser, this is not always desirable.

This is why Node.js lends the capacity for command-line tools and server-side scripting.

Though JavaScript usually operates on the client-side or the front-end, server-side scripting begets faster load times as browser technology is not needed. This can decrease user frustration and increase SEO.

2. Vue.js

Vue.js calls itself the “progressive” JavaScript framework. The name stems from its philosophy of incremental adoption. In Vue.js, the core library is focused on the view layer only so any additional functionality must be adopted in increments.

The framework uses a model-view-viewmodel (MVVM) architectural pattern. This pattern separates the graphical user interface (UI) – or the view – from the business logic of the application – or the model. The viewmodel layer is a converter medium that synchronizes data.

3. AngularJS

AngularJS is maintained by Google and addresses common complications in building single-page applications (SPAs). This framework works by leveraging HTML vocabulary on dynamic web pages. In the past, HTML could only be used for static content.

SPAs work by dynamically loading content from the webserver rather than the web browser. As a result, SPAs function in a similar fashion to mobile applications and do not need to be reloaded.

4. Ember.js

Ember.js is a JavaScript framework employing a component-service pattern. Opposed to the traditional model-view-controller (MVC) architecture, components in Ember.js are central to the framework. Almost everything in Ember.js can be categorized as a service or component.

Components are transient and manipulate the markup text and styles of an application UI. Services are objects that live for the duration of an application. They can be made available for different parts of your applications and are best used for persistent states.

5. React

React is a JavaScript framework developed by Facebook that simplifies the process of building interactive UIs. It is the base of React Native, an adjacent framework for building mobile applications.

Both frameworks have a one-way data flow, which is considered more intuitive than bi-directional data binding. Hot reload is another popular feature of the React frameworks allowing developers to immediately see changes as they are applied.

How to Choose the Best JavaScript Framework to Use

JavaScript frameworks will frankly never be a bad choice if you choose to use the JavaScript language. Frameworks save time and to that end, money. Knowing what a JavaScript framework is in the first place is an important step for optimizing your web development process.

Now that you have the faculty to understand what a JavaScript framework can do for you, the next step is to think carefully about which JavaScript framework can serve you best. Of course, this might require more dedicated research than a singular article.

For example, Google Trends shows Node.js as being more popular than several of the aforementioned frameworks. But this is likely because Node.js is a runtime environment and can be deployed alongside other frameworks.

AngularJS is the second most popular framework. Yet it is also one of JavaScript’s oldest frameworks and was first released over a decade ago in 2010. Despite its popularity, it’s difficult to tell whether this is due to merit or tradition.

Consulting with a tech professional may be the best way to figure out which JavaScript framework is right for you. 

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And if you are still not sure if how to figure it out if which JavaScript framework is right for you or even how to hire a JavaScript expert, here are some great tips summarizing everything:

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What is a JavaScript framework? JavaScript frameworks can help you transform an amorphous blob of code into a bonafide development project.

Depending on what you’re working on, the scalability of your project, your favorite development features, and even what architectural pattern you prefer for web development, you have a lot of options.

But if any of it ever becomes confusing, don’t be afraid to reach out.

Trio has quite a few senior JavaScript engineers that can oversee your entire project from the bare-bones frame to a completely fleshed out web app or website.

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With over 10 years of experience in software outsourcing, Alex has assisted in building high-performance teams before co-founding Trio with his partner Daniel. Today he enjoys helping people hire the best software developers from Latin America and writing great content on how to do that!
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