JavaScript frameworks are evolving. Every year, there seem to be new players on the market, and modification to old reliable standbys that force you to reevaluate their reliability. Today, there are three major options that are frequently updated and popularly used: React, Angular, and Vue. And all of them have a dedicated community that believes their framework is the best.

So what are the real differences between these frameworks, and which one should you choose?

A Closer Look at React

Let’s start by taking a closer look at React. React was made open source by Facebook back in 2013, and is most known for its ability to build modernized, single-page applications.

There are several advantages of React:

  • Learnability. Compared to the other options, React is super easy to learn. It has a simple, approachable design, and it uses JSX—so you shouldn’t have much difficulty navigating it, even as a newcomer.
  • Speed. React is also faster than its counterparts. There are a few reasons for this, but the biggest factor is React’s Virtual DOM implementation; there are also many rendering optimizations meant to keep things moving.
  • One-way data binding. In most cases, this leads to fewer unwanted (and let’s face it, unexpected) side effects in your code.
  • Migrations are simple and automatable. Generally speaking, it’s easy to migrate between different versions of React. You can even obtain “codemods,” which allow you to automate much of the migration.

However, there are also some downsides to consider:

  • Openness. React is simple and easy to learn in part because it’s so open; there are often dozens of options for how to develop something, which puts additional pressure on you to make choices. Depending on your experience level, this may or may not be comfortable for you.
  • Drift from class-based components. Gradually, React is becoming less focused on class-based components. If you prefer object-oriented programming, this could be a problem.
  • Newcomers can get stuck. Despite its learnability, it’s often hard for newcomers to combine templating and logic (JSC).

A Closer Look at Angular

Angular’s website describes it as a “superheroic” JavaScript MVVM framework, and it’s been around since 2009. But what makes it superheroic, and why would you use it?

Let’s look at the advantages first:

  • Synergy with Typescript. Angular was made to be used with Typescript, so there’s exceptional mutual support.
  • The Angular language service. Within external HTML template files, you can set up intelligence and autocomplete.
  • Exhaustive documentation. There are detailed records on everything you’d want to learn from Angular. This means there’s an answer to every question you have, even if you have to spend a lot of time finding it.
  • One-way data binding. Like React, you can reduce the possibility of errors with one-way data binding.
  • MVVM. The Model-View-ViewModel (MVVM) approach allows you to have multiple developers working separately on the same section of the app.
  • Scalability. Angular was designed with scalability in mind, making it perfect for projects that need to scale.

Now let’s consider the drawbacks:

  • Slow speed. Compared to React, Angular is somewhat slower—at least according to some sources. There are ways to improve speed here if you tweak the rendering components manually, but this is still a time-intensive process.
  • Steep learning curve. There are many different structures to learn in Angular, including injectables, components, modules, and pipes—and everything is exhaustively documented. Accordingly, Angular can be much harder to learn than its counterparts.

A Closer Look at Vue

Vue.js is the newest of the three, and it defines itself as the “progressive” JavaScript framework. Is it worth using?

There are certainly some advantages:

  • Empowered HTML. Vue has a lot in common with Angular, and you can use it to optimize your HTML block handling.
  • Newbie-friendly documentation. Circumstantial documentation in Vue is straightforward and easy to navigate. Almost everything is exhaustively written about, and you should have little trouble finding what you’re looking for.
  • Flexibility. Vue is similar to both Angular and React, so you can switch back and forth easily. Additionally, Vue can be used for a wide variety of projects, including single-page applications and more complex web interfaces.
  • Small size. Vue is relatively small, at 20KB, allowing it to remain nimble and achieve a better performance. This also allows it to be scalable.

However, there are some disadvantages to consider:

  • Novelty. Vue is still relatively new, at least compared to Angular and React. Developers have had less time to experiment with the framework, and have encountered fewer issues. If you try something new with it, and you run into a complex issue, there may not be immediate support to find related to it.
  • Minimal resources. In line with this, the community is still beginning to emerge. If you frequently rely on the support of other community members, React or Angular may be a better choice.
  • Low focus. Vue might be “too” flexible, making it difficult to integrate into larger projects.

Which Framework Is Best?

The question of “which framework is best” is hard to answer, for two main reasons. First, each JavaScript framework has its own pros and cons. Vue, while small and highly usable, is also new, with limited support. Angular, while scalable and immeasurably useful, also has slow performance. And React, while easy to learn, can be especially challenging for object-oriented programmers.

Second, as most developers will tell you, no matter which framework you choose, it’s going to take some time to get acclimated. With baseline programming skills and enough time, you should be able to master any framework in your organization.

The bottom line? There isn’t a clear winner here. React, Angular, and Vue all have unique properties that make them useful for different applications and appealing to different kinds of developers.

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