The JavaScript Frameworks We’re Using for 2022

Javascript Frameworks

When building a JavaScript application, you don’t need to write everything from scratch. Instead, javaScript frameworks provide the base to build your app.

Here are the ones we’re using in 2021 and into 2022.

Node.js

https://nodejs.org/en/

JavaScript originated as a scripting language for use on web pages – to be executed within a web browser.

Node.js breaks JavaScript out of the browser and allows it to run stand-alone.

It’s not technically a framework, but you’ll need to know what it is as some frameworks will run on it.

Check out our article on what Node.js is to JavaScript to get up to speed.

Express.js

https://expressjs.com/

Express.js is a web server framework that turns Node.js into a full-fat webserver able to deliver web pages to the browser or serve up data via an API.

This role was popularly fulfilled by Apache & PHP as part of a LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP). Using Express.js lets you write everything in JavaScript, and due to its minimalism – it’s fast.

You can then add in other JavaScript libraries to bolt-on authentication, database support, file uploads. There are thousands of JavaScript libraries on the NPM package repository which can aid your development. Express only includes the core web server functionality for you to build on, allowing for a high level of customization.

Who Uses It?

Node.js/Express.js is used by developers who want to write both their backend and frontend code in JavaScript, as well as those focussed on wanting a minimalist web server where performance is a necessity (Express does one thing – serve web content, everything else can be added as needed or left out to keep things slim).

Organizations that use Express.js include:

  • Netflix
  • Trello
  • Paypal
  • Uber

Angular

https://angularjs.org/

Angular is a front-end framework designed for displaying user interfaces and interactivity. It includes all of the moving parts for developing application interfaces that respond to user input, display alerts, animate screen elements, talk to phone hardware (reading from the GPS, for example). It also includes tools for communicating with back-end servers like Express.js to retrieve and submit user data.

It’s super useful. It’s also a super-set of the JavaScript programming language. It adds new helpful functions and classes while also allowing you to use plain JavaScript syntax mixed in with the new stuff. Angular then compiles these additional functions and classes down to plain JavaScript when you build your application, allowing them to be run in the web browser.

There’s a learning curve, but it’s worth it – the added functionality is incredibly powerful for building cross-platform applications.

Who Uses It?

Angular was developed by Google and is popular with cross-platform and mobile app developers.

Organizations using Angular include:

  • Google
  • Microsoft
  • Upwork

React

https://reactjs.org/

Everything that I just said about Angular applies pretty much equally for React.

React has different syntax and slightly different functionality but serves the same purpose. It is gaining in popularity, especially with those making online tutorials, so it’s a good framework to look at if you are getting started.

Who Uses It?

React was developed by Facebook and, again, is popular with cross-platform and mobile app developers.

Those using it include:

  • Facebook
  • Twilio
  • Airbnb
  • Instagram

Ionic

https://ionicframework.com/

Ionic provides a full mobile user interface – including icons, buttons, menus, pop-ups, and more – built on either React or Angular.

It also includes the tools to easily build and deploy apps targeting web browsers, Apple, Android devices, and even desktop computers.

It’s a one-stop-shop for building an application from scratch using JavaScript. It’s pretty great.

Who Uses It?

Ionic Framework is popular with small developers who want to rapidly prototype and build their ideas. In addition, everything is included, so there’s less time spent building buttons and other UI elements, leaving more time to actually build functionality.

Companies using Ionic include:

  • Electronic Arts
  • NHS
  • General Electric
  • NBC

jQuery

https://jquery.com/

jQuery is the granddaddy of all frameworks. It’s been around forever.

It’s also showing its age.

It wasn’t developed with mobile apps in mind. Instead, it was developed to provide extra functionality to JavaScript that was severely lacking in early versions of the language.

It still includes a lot of useful tools and is popular for adding interactivity to websites.

Sometimes you just need to hammer a nail (or display a pretty popup message to a user) – and jQuery does those simple things just fine.

That said, if you’re looking to build modern, cross-platform applications, jQuery is not what you’re after. It’s more about adding bells and whistles to legacy web apps than a reliable and compatible platform to build new ones on.

Who Uses It?

jQuery is popular with website developers – and is especially popular with WordPress developers. Lots of widgets that can be added to web interfaces are built on jQuery – popups and scrolling banners and that sort of thing.

Some users of the framework include:

  • Old school web designers
  • People who have a basic web page and just want to add some interactivity
  • Plugin developers
  • WordPress developers

Vue.js

https://vuejs.org/

Vue.js sits a sort of middle ground as far as JavaScript frameworks are concerned.

With Angular/React/Ionic, you’re committed to using their framework and tools for everything – your whole application must be built with their tools, as they require the code to be compiled and assets organized in a certain manner.

This can make it difficult to add the functionality provided by these frameworks to existing code bases.

Vue.js takes a different approach – you can integrate it with an existing browser-based app and gradually integrate your existing code.

It’s both a framework and a library – as much as one or the other as you need it to be.

I probably wouldn’t use it to build a fresh cross-platform mobile/web app (Ionic is just better for that), but it is useful for building software that is intended to run only in a web browser.

Meteor

https://www.meteor.com/

Meteor is similar to Ionic in that it provides a full-fat toolkit for building cross-platform apps.

Like Ionic, you have the choice of using Angular or Ionic for the user interface (it also now supports Vue.js!).

Meteor includes something else, though – it also provides the framework for your backend – the web service which hosts your data.

This means you can build a complete application in Meteor – user authentication, data storage, and the interface and mobile app all in one place.

Of course, that means some decisions are made for you in advance – one glove doesn’t always fit all – but if it does, it means you can have a working prototype of your app up and running quite quickly.

Who Uses It?

Meteor is popular with smaller development houses that want to build applications for themselves or clients rapidly. Prebuilt components mean not having to sweat the basic stuff – at the cost of customizability.

Organizations using Meteor include:

  • WeKan
  • Telescope
  • Chaser Invoicing
  • Favro
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Brad Morton

I'm Brad, and I'm nearing 20 years of experience with Linux. I've worked in just about every IT role there is before taking the leap into software development. Currently, I'm building desktop and web-based solutions with NodeJS and PHP hosted on Linux infrastructure. Visit my blog or find me on Twitter to see what I'm up to.

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