At over 350,000 packages, the npm registry contains more than double the next most populated package registry (which is the Apache Maven repository). In fact, it is currently the largest package registry in the world.
Fast forward eight months, and there are currently about 500,000 packages in the npm registry. That’s a massive growth compared to other package repositories.
A library is a reusable piece of code that offers certain functionality. It is a collection of functions, objects, and classes that you can use in your application. A library abstracts different layers so that you don’t have to be concerned about their implementation details.
So why is React getting all the attention? With React, it is possible to create an interactive UI using a declarative approach where you can control the state of the application by saying “the view should look like this”. It uses a component-based model where the components are reusable UI elements and each component has its own state.
React uses a Virtual DOM so that you don’t have to be concerned about directly manipulating the DOM. Other notable features of React include one-way data flow, optional JSX syntax, and a command-line tool for creating a React project with zero build configuration.
If you believe that React is the next best thing and would like to learn React, check out our React Crash Course for Beginners tutorial series.
D3: Data-Driven Documents
D3 works by binding the data to the DOM and then making the transformation to the document. It also has an ecosystem of its own, which consists of plugins and libraries that extend its basic functionality. The library has been around since 2011, and it has tons of documentation and tutorials that can help you get started.
If you are looking to create simple visualizations without investing too much time in it, you should check out Chart.js. We have an introductory series on Chart.js that covers most of the visualizations that you can create with Chart.js
A framework has an architecture that dictates the flow of control in your application. The framework describes the skeleton and tells you how everything should be organized. The basic functionality required to get the application up and running is also provided to you. Moreover, you are bound to follow the framework’s design principles and patterns. The difference between a framework and library is that you call a library, whereas the framework calls you.
A framework often comprises of many libraries and has a higher level of abstraction. Functionality such as event handling, making AJAX calls, template and data binding, and testing are built into the framework.
The Angular 2 release was a ground-up rewrite of AngularJS. Some of the features of Angular 2 include:
- component-based architecture
- improved performance on both mobile and web platforms.
- better tooling and scaffolding options
However, upgrading from Angular 1.x to Angular 2 is expensive because Angular 2 is an entirely different beast. That’s one of the reasons why Angular 2 hasn’t experienced the same adoption rate as that of its predecessor. But Angular and AngularJS continue to be among the most commonly used technologies according to Stack Overflow (2017). The Angular project has about 28,000 stars on GitHub.
The framework offers a React-like experience with its Virtual DOM and reusable components that you can use to create both widgets and entire web applications. Moreover, you can also use the JSX syntax to write the render functions directly. When the state changes, Vue.js uses a reactivity system to determine what has changed and rerenders the minimal number of components. Vue.js also supports the integration of other libraries into the framework without much hassle.
Ember.js is a front-end framework based on the Model-View-ViewModel (MVVM) pattern. It follows the convention over configuration approach which is popular among server-side side frameworks like Ruby on Rails and Laravel. Ember.js incorporates common idioms and best practices into the framework so that you can get an application up and running without much effort.
The Ember stack usually comprises:
- Ember CLI: Provides basic scaffolding options and supports hundreds of add-ons.
- Ember Data: A data persistence library that can be configured to work with any server back end.
- Ember Inspector: An extension available for Chrome and Firefox.
- Liquid Fire: An add-on for transitions and animations.
A tool is a collection of routines that help you in the development process. Unlike a library, a tool usually executes a task on the client code. It takes your code as input, performs a task on it, and then returns an output. The commonly used tools include transpilers and build tools, asset minifiers, module bundlers, and scaffolding tools.
Tools: General-Purpose Task Runners
General-purpose task runners are the tools used to automate certain repetitive tasks. The popular general-purpose task runners include:
Gulp uses pipelines to stream the data from one plugin to another, and the final result is outputted to a destination folder. Gulp performs better compared to Grunt because it doesn’t create temporary files for storing intermediate results, which results in fewer I/O calls.
Gulp and Grunt require you to spend time learning and mastering a new tool, which takes time. Introducing additional dependencies into your project can be avoided by choosing an alternative that is already bundled with Node.js. Although npm is better known as a package manager, npm scripts can be used to perform the bulk of the abovementioned tasks.
Testing is the process of validating and verifying that the application meets the expected business and technical requirements. The Test-Driven Development approach also aids in discovering bugs and therefore should be treated as an integral part of the modern front-end development stack.
Jest is a relatively new testing framework authored by Facebook and is well-received by the React community. There is a common misconception that Jest is specifically designed to work with React; however, according to the Jest Documentation:
The biggest advantage of using Jest over other test suites is that you require zero or minimal configuration to start writing tests. The framework has a built-in assertion library and supports the use of mock functions or spies.
The language is not without its learning curves, and there are plenty of frameworks and libraries to keep you busy, as well. If you’re looking for additional resources to study or to use in your work, check out what we have available in the Envato Market.
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