Best Frontend Frameworks for Web Development
User experience is the number one priority for every business in the market today. As a developer, even the brief you get on your project talks about the simplicity of the user interface it is supposed to feature. No matter how complex functions and operations happen in the background, what users see and experience has to be seamless. That is the principle some of the most successful companies operate on- Netflix, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
Take any of these websites, and you will find they are powerful, simple, and have a brilliant user interface. All thanks to the myriad of frameworks running under the hood. However, with the increasing demands of customers and the market, there is a constant need to push the quality in terms of usability and functionality. That’s when concerns start popping up.
Here, we shed light on some of the best frontend frameworks 2024. So, for those of you wondering what some of the popular front end frameworks are, here’s our recommendation.
What is a Frontend Framework?
The frontend of a website or a web application refers to its parts or components visible to the end-user, such as layout, graphics, navigation, typography, the position of various elements, etc.
A front-end framework is a set of tools that enables you to leverage ready-to-use elements to develop the frontend of your applications. In simple terms, a frontend framework is like a scaffolding on which you can easily design and build the application interface.
Because frontend frameworks provide you with ready-to-use components, you don’t have to code for every element of the application frontend from scratch.
The State of Best Frontend Frameworks
The graph below demonstrates the relative popularity of frontend frameworks. We have focused on their usage in percentage for each year to determine their popularity. The top three front-end frameworks based on these parameters are React, Vue.js, and Angular. During 2016-17, these frameworks gained popularity among the developer community, and are still on the top of the tree.
Besides these three frameworks, Svelte, Preact, and Ember are the most popular ones in the community. While Svelte picked up popularity during 2019-20 and has had steady growth, Preact picked up in 2018-19 but fizzled out after 2020. Ember saw its pick in 2017-18 and then saw a steady decline but remained in the top six frontend frameworks.
Top Frontend Frameworks
However, many frameworks have sparked little interest in the developer community. Amongst these, Ember (63%) tops the list, followed by Alpine.js (44%) and Preact (43%).
Let’s take a detailed look at the top frontend frameworks and evaluate their pros and cons.
One of the simplest frameworks to learn – React – was developed at Facebook to fix code maintainability issues due to the constant addition of features in the app. An open-source framework now, React stands out because of its virtual Document Object Model (DOM), which offers its exceptional functionality. An ideal framework for those who anticipate high traffic and need a stable platform to handle it.
As a technology consultant, I would recommend React for projects that involve building single-page web applications and PWAs.
- Reusability of components makes it easy to collaborate and reuse them in other parts of the application
- Consistent and seamless performance with the use of virtual DOM
- The best alternative to writing components in React hooks, it allows you to write components without classes and lets you learn React more easily
- React dev tools are advanced and super useful
- Due to multiple and constant updates in the framework, it is difficult to make the proper documentation and so does it impacts the learning curve for beginners
- Developers find it hard to understand the complexities of JSX while beginning with the framework
- It only gives frontend solutions
When to use React:
React is used for building the user interface, especially when you want to develop single-page applications. It is the most robust frontend framework when you want to develop an interactive interface with less time since you can reuse the components.
When not to use React:
You cannot have a list of the best front end development frameworks without Angular. Angular is the only framework that is based on TypeScript on this list. Officially launched in 2016, Angular was developed by Google to bridge the gap between the increasing demands of technology and conventional concepts that showed results.
Unlike React, Angular is unique with its two-way data binding feature. It means there is a real-time synchronization between the model and the view, where any change in the model reflects instantly on the view and vice versa.
If your project involves building mobile or web apps, Angular is perfect! Besides, you can also use this framework to develop multi-page as well as progressive web apps. Companies like BMW, Xbox, Forbes, Blender, and others deploy applications built with Angular.
Compared to React, Angular is not easy to learn. Though there is innumerable documentation available, they are either too complex or confusing to read.
- In-built functionality to update the changes made in model to the view and so does vice-versa
- Reduces the amount of code since most of the prominent features like two-way data binding are provided by default
- Decouples the components from the dependencies by defining them external elements
- Components are reusable and easy to manage using the dependency injection
- A vast community for learning and support
- Since Angular is the complete dynamic solution, there are multiple ways you can perform the task, so the learning curve is steeper. However, the large community of Angular makes it easy for new learners to learn about concepts and technology
- It happens that dynamic apps don’t perform well sometimes because of their complex structure and size. However, code optimization and best practices of Angular
When to use Angular
Angular augments the performance of browser-based applications by dynamically updating the contents in no time since it uses two-way data binding. For enterprise based applications and dynamic web apps, using Angular is the best bet.
When not to use Angular
Angular is a complete solution as a frontend framework. If you want to build applications with limited scopes, you will not be able to use the resources that Angular provides. Also, when you have a more minor size team, opt for a smaller framework with fewer complexities and simple syntax.
One of the most popular front-end frameworks nowadays, Vue is a simple and straightforward framework. It is good at removing the complexities that Angular developers face. It is smaller in size and offers two major advantages – visual DOM and component-based. It is also a 2-way binding.
Vue is versatile, and it helps you with multiple tasks. From building web applications and mobile apps to progressive web applications, it can handle both simple and dynamic processes with ease.
Though it is built to optimize app performance and tackle complexities, it is not widely popular among market giants. However, Alibaba, 9gag, Reuters, Xiaomi are users of this framework. Vue continues to grow in terms of adoptions despite fewer takers from Silicon Valley.
- Extensive and detailed documentation
- Flexibility to design the app structure
- Typescript support
- Lack of stability in components
- Relatively small community
- Language barrier with plugins and components (most plugins written in Chinese language)
When to use:
Vuejs is recommended for flexible design structures. It lets you design everything from scratch and is successful in developing giant projects as well.
When not to use:
If you think the support community would be there to answer the complexities, Vuejs is not the right path to go. Also, the applications requiring stable components aren’t suitable to be built with Vuejs since the framework has shown problems with the stability of components.
Thanks to its existence for years, there is a considerable jQuery community for the solutions.
Fundamentally a library, jQuery is used to manipulate CSS and DOM and to optimize the functionality and interactivity of a website.
Though we weren’t able to build mobile apps with jQuery, recent developments in jQuery Mobile, the usage boundaries have been expanded. What’s more, the recent development in this framework enables developers to build native mobile applications with its HTML5-based UI system–jQuery Mobile. Besides, jQuery is browser-friendly and supports any browser you intend to use.
- DOM is flexible for adding or removing the elements
- Sending HTTP requests is simplified
- Facilitates dynamic content
- HTTP requests are simplified
- Comparatively slow working capability
- Many advanced alternatives are available other than jQuery
- The APIs of the document object model is obsolete
When to use:
When not to use:
Developed in 2011, Emberjs is component-based and offers two-way data binding similar to Angular. It is designed to handle the increasing demands of modern-day technologies seamlessly. You can develop complex mobile and web applications with Emberjs and expect its efficient architecture to handle concerns.
However, Ember’s learning curve is one of its few shortcomings. The framework ends up as one of the toughest frameworks to learn because of its rigid and conventional structure. Being relatively new and under-explored, the developer community is small. Anyone with no constraint in dedicating the time for learning can go for it.
- Fastest framework
- Two-way data binding
- Proper documentation
- A small community, less popular
- Complex syntax and slow updates
- Hard learning curve
- Heavy framework for small applications
When to use:
If you want to build modern applications like Linkedin with a rich user interface, Emberjs is the framework with all the technical frontend facilitation like seeing a wide range of application states because of the excellent routing provided by Emberjs.
The framework stands as the complete frontend solution for large-scale projects because it provides a ready configuration, useful binding and custom properties to render the page as needed.
When not to use:
Emberjs isn’t the right choice with a smaller development team since the framework requires experience and business logic to solve the complexities. The initial cost may be higher with Emberjs. Also, for writing simple ajax functionalities and implementing a simple user interface, the framework may not be the right choice.
One of the easiest frameworks out there, Backbonejs allows you to develop single-page applications swiftly. It is a framework which is based on the MVC architecture. Similar to a Controller, MVC architecture’s View allows the implementation of component logic.
Besides, this framework can also run engines like underscore.js and Moustache. When developing applications with Backbonejs, you could also use tools like Thorax, Marionette, Chaplin, Handlebars, and more to make the best use of the framework.
The platform also allows you to develop projects that require different types of users, where the arrays can be used to distinguish the models. So, regardless of whether you intend to use Backbonejs for frontend or backend, this is an ideal choice as its REST API compatibility provides seamless synchronization between the two.
- Easy to learn
- Lightweight framework
- Provides basic tools to create the app structure (the framework does not provide a readymade structure)
- Have to write boilerplate code to communicate for a view to model and model to view
When to use:
Backbonejs is used for dynamic applications like Trello. It allows developers to build their client-side model, faster updates, and reuse the code. Hence, it is efficient in dynamically handling the updates, maintaining the client, and constant synchronization with the server.
When not to use:
Backbonejs provides a minimalist requirement of building a web application as compared to other MVC client-side framework. However, you can extend the functionalities with the support of plugins and extensions. So with the development team aiming for a complete solution in one framework should not aim for backbonejs.
Despite being a newcomer in the frameworks arena, Semantic-UI framework quickly is on its way to becoming one of the most popular front-end frameworks across the globe. What makes it stand out is its intuitive user interface and simplicity in terms of functionality and usability. It incorporates natural language, making codes self-explanatory.
It means that freshers who are relatively new to the coding scene can quickly grasp the framework. Besides, it also allows for a streamlined development process thanks to its integration with tons of 3rd party libraries.
- Among the latest front-end frameworks
- Has out-of-box functionality
- Less complicated
- Rich UI components and responsiveness
- Bigger packages
- Have to be proficient enough to develop custom requirements
When to use:
Semantic-UI is a framework for a super lightweight experience and sleek design of the user interface.
When not to use:
So far, we’ve been seeing a few frontend frameworks that were ideal even for beginners. But with Foundation, the case is quite different. Developed by Zurb, it is purely meant for enterprise-level development of responsive and agile websites. It is advanced and challenging for freshers to start developing applications using Foundation.
It offers GPU acceleration for ultra-smooth animations, swift mobile rendering features, and data-interchange attributes where it loads lightweight sections for mobile and heavy sections for larger devices. If you intend to get started with the Foundation, we recommend working on autonomous projects to get familiar with the framework to handle its complexities. It’s implemented by Mozilla, eBay, Microsoft, and more.
- Flexible grids
- Lets you create exquisite looking websites
- HTML5 form validation library
- Customized user experience for different devices and media
- Comparatively hard to learn for beginners
- Fewer community forums and support platforms
- Competitor framework like Twitter Bootstrap is more popular than Foundation
When to use
If you are looking for styled CSS components, open-source, and mobile-friendly front end framework, Foundation beats the other options.
When not to use
Not suitable for beginners since it is tough to modify the code and increases the complexity because of its customization capability.
Svelte is the latest of all frontend frameworks. The framework has made a difference by putting the work into a compile step instead of putting them in the browser, unlike frameworks like React and Vue. It writes the code to update the document object model in synchronization with the state of the application.
- Better reactivity
- Faster than any other framework like Angular or React
- Latest of all
- Scalable framework
- Small community
- Lack of support
- Lack of tooling
- It is not popular yet
When to use:
The framework is best suitable for small app projects and with a small team. Because it doesn’t have a bigger support community, it is better not to use it for complex projects.
When not to use:
It is better not to use Svelte for bigger projects currently because the frameworks lack enough tooling and community. It is hard to find answers to the questions / bugs that may appear later in the development because of the small community.
Preact is similar to and compatible with React, so developers need not learn about a new library from scratch. In addition, its thin compatibility layer (preact-compat) allows developers to use existing React packages, and even the most complex React components with just some aliasing.
So whether you are starting a new project or developing an existing one, Preact can prove to be time-saving. And if you love building views with React but want to prioritize performance and speed as well, Preact can be the answer. Many websites use Preact, including IKEA, Bing, Uber, Etsy, and others.
- Trims down the library code in your bundles, enabling quicker loads as less code is shipped to the users
- Enables you to get highly interactive apps and pages in under 5 seconds in one RTT, making a great fit for PWAs
- Portable and embeddable, which makes it a good option for building parts of an app without complex integration
- Powerful, dedicated CLI which helps create new projects quickly
- Works well with many libraries in the React ecosystem
- Small community support and not maintained by a big tech company, as how Facebook maintains React
- No synthetic event handling like React, which can cause performance and maintenance issues due to impedance mismatch between the implementations if using React for development and Preact for production
When to use
Preact’s small size makes it an excellent fit for building web components, small web widgets, landing pages, and PWAs that wish to load and become interactive quickly or to render both full applications and individual parts of a page. It is also a good choice for small projects, prototyping, and targeting web users with slow internet.
When not to use
You lose some React features if you choose Preact. Thus, it may not be suitable for building heavy, complicated, or large-scale projects as there is no point if it requires installing additional 5-10 npm packages to ship additional functionalities.
So, these are some of my recommendations for best frontend frameworks based on my experience ranging from developing large-scale projects to MVPs. However, I believe you now have an idea of which framework to go for depending on your project needs.
Since there are plenty of options to choose from among the frontend frameworks, you may be indecisive about the technology. It isn’t effortless to understand each and have the practical experience and then select among them.
I personally love taking the insights from frontend developers at Simform while choosing the best UI framework for any project which is designed from scratch. The best part is, almost all the frameworks can be learned with little effort, even if someone’s at the beginner level. I’d recommend you to choose the frontend framework by taking advice from your most senior frontend developer who can gauge the pros and cons.
For more detail discussion on frontend frameworks, connect with me on Twitter @HirenDhaduk_ or drop me a line at email@example.com
FAQs on Frontend Frameworks
Frontend frameworks are collections of pre-written code and tools that help developers build UI/UX of a website or web application. These frameworks provide a structured approach to web development, offering a set of reusable components, libraries, and utilities to streamline the process.
React and jQuery are the top two most commonly used frontend frameworks, followed by Angular, Vue.js, and Svelte.js.
It’s not possible to determine the most used framework. However, the Stack Overflow Survey in 2022 revealed React to be the most popular front-end framework among developers.
The choice of the best framework for your web application depends on various factors such as project requirements, team expertise, scalability needs, and more. We recommend evaluating the specific needs of your project, consider community support, documentation, and the skills and preferences of your development team when choosing a framework for web development.
Frontend frameworks are particularly beneficial when you’re developing complex web applications that require a structured, scalable, and maintainable approach. They are also useful when building applications with dynamic UI and complex state interactions.
Angular, React, Vue.js, and Ember.js are some of the popular frontend frameworks to use for large-scale applications in 2023.