8 Most Popular Web App Frameworks to Use in 2021

React, jQuery, and Express.js are the top three popular web app frameworks to use in 2021. Check out the 8 top frameworks for web app development.

September 25, 2021
14 mins read
Last Updated October 21, 2021
Top Web Frameworks

8 Most Popular Web App Frameworks to Use in 2021

Web frameworks play a vital role in building robust and interactive web applications for both frontend and backend. Some of the prominent names like Netflix, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube have been revolutionizing the web app experience. 

What has helped these giants deliver high-performance applications is a reliable web app framework. You can replicate the same for your business with a robust web app development solution that leverages such frameworks.

Here, we have collected and reviewed data from different resources to curate a list of the top 8 popular web app frameworksLet’s discover more about these web app frameworks.

Looking to build scalable products for your business? Simform has been at the forefront of web app development services enabling several startups and companies with higher business agility. Get in touch with us today!

List of Web App Frameworks Based on the Popularity

Web-app-frameworks

Source: Statista

Undoubtedly, React.js is listed at the top, with 40.14 percent of software developers choosing it as one of the best tech stacks to build web apps. React, Vue and Angular are the best JavaScript frameworks to build high-performance and complex web apps.

Similarly, several other web app frameworks offer rapid development, high performance, and flexibility for your projects. So let’s start discovering these frameworks starting with the top of the lot- React!

1. React

React was released by Facebook in 2013, and in no time, it became popular among developers and enterprises. It is a JavaScript library that can be used to build interactive user interfaces that are enough to lure any developer and business into picking React as their frontend framework for web app development. Simform has also utilized the component-driven React framework for one of our projects, FIH, to build the frontend to deliver an excellent user experience and ensure flexibility. 

Undoubtedly, it has climbed the charts over the years to secure first place in the Statista survey report as the most used web framework among developers in 2021. Moreover, React was crowned as the most wanted framework to build web apps by Stackoverflow Developer Survey 2021 as well. 

In addition to that, Facebook is regularly updating React with new features and functionalities which are being tested in real-time by more than 2.8 million users worldwide. Apart from this, React has 173K stars on GitHub as of now. So, undoubtedly it is popular among the developer community for various web app projects. Moreover, it is also constantly evolving for the better, making React a top web development framework. 

React Statistics

Source: StackOverflow

Key Features:

  • Reusable & declarative components: Reusable and declarative UI components give React a distinctive quality. Developers can break down the complex UI into components that can be reused in other parts of the application.  
  • Visual aid with JSX: JSX is one of the most significant features of React that helps to create a new UI feature via JS. You can also see the changes reflecting in your web app in real-time. This is what I would say every web project should look for – writing HTML in JS.
  • Virtual DOM: Another reason for its huge popularity is the virtual DOM that helps in boosting app performance. React handles the DOM manipulation by default and re-renders a DOM whenever necessary.
  • Unidirectional data-binding: Information flow in React applications is unidirectional. This one-way data binding in React makes it more efficient as a framework that is less prone to error and easy to debug.

Why React?

  • Strong  Community Support: React has a vast community of developers and contributors worldwide, showing its credibility in the market.
  • SEO friendly: React offers the best server-side rendering, which helps in reducing page load time, making the framework SEO friendly.  
  • Flexibility & compatibility: The tagline “learn once and write anywhere,” applies best to this web app framework since it is flexible and compatible to develop apps for both web and mobile platforms.
  • Easy Learning Curve: The learning curve is very convenient in Reactjs, making it a go-to framework for web app development.

Best Use Case: If you want to develop Single-Page Applications (SPA) or enterprise-grade applications for your business, consider leveraging React.

Examples: PayPal, Uber, Instagram, Airbnb

2. jQuery

jQuery is one of the oldest players in the race, which is still embracing the opportunity of being loved by the majority of developers. More than 41 million websites are using jQuery alone in the United States. Apart from this, 82.64% of websites among the top 10K websites are also earning profits using jQuery for their web applications. 

It was introduced as a JavaScript library in 2006 to help developers build robust web apps, and since then, it’s leading its way to popularity with its rich feature set. It’s a fast, and small JavaScript library used to streamline the interactions between JavaScript code and HTML elements. It also takes care of issues associated with cross-browser compatibility. Thanks to its community of talented developers who have improved and refined this JavaScript library to keep it updated. 

This JavaScript library has several built-in functions and plugins to accomplish various tasks quickly and easily. It helps developers traverse and manipulate the DOM in a more convenient way. Moreover, it simplifies event handling, CSS animations, and Ajax calls with easy-to-use API that works across many browsers. That is why developers like to use this framework to build interactive web pages. Looking at the usability and the popularity – unarguably, this web app framework isn’t going to lose its place anytime soon.

jQuery Usage Statistics

Source: BuiltWith

Key Features

  • DOM Manipulation & Element Selection: With jQuery, selecting DOM elements, traversing them, and modifying their content become simple. jQuery normalizes DOM manipulation efficiently by using methods like .attr(), .html(), etc. that can work in every browser.
  • HTML event methods: jQuery provides several methods to simplify event handling, which adds more interactivity to web pages. Using jQuery, you can trigger a series of commands like starting animation, adding a class, sending data to servers, etc., on a single mouse click. It saves developers time in binding and unbinding event handlers. 
  • Extensibility through plug-ins: jQuery is highly extensible as it allows developers to extend a web application’s functionality through plugins. There are thousands of useful plugins available on the web to extend jQuery for functions like Ajax helpers, datagrids, dynamic lists, XML and XSTL tools, etc. That makes web app development fast and easy.
  • CSS Animation and AJAX Support: It uses markup-based technologies CSS, HTML, JavaScript, and AJAX in a combination to create animations like Flash. It also comes with several built-in animation effects that help in developing feature-rich and responsive websites using AJAX. 
  • Utility Features: Seamless integration between JavaScript and JQuery can be achieved through utility functions provided by jQuery to ease the development process. 

Why jQuery?

  • Cross-browser Support: jQuery supports cross-browser compatibility through Selectors API and Fetch standardized to the browser. It’s the best JavaScript library that supports all browsers and is compatible with a wide range of browser versions that ensure that your web project works across several browsers.
  • SEO Friendly: The best part of using jQuery is the SEO-friendly practice it follows. jQuery can be optimized according to search engines. It has several plugins to help developers in following best SEO practices while coding, such as embedding jQuery elements using unordered lists.
  • Fast Page Loading: In jQuery, page load time can easily be reduced, making the code light and concise by writing code in minimum possible lines. In addition to this, developers are allowed to load div tags when needed, which also helps in loading the web page fast.
  • Ease of Learning: It has a smooth learning curve due to a simple syntax and open coding standards. Any developer with some ground knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript can learn jQuery and use it to build web apps.  
  • Improved Developer Productivity: As we mentioned earlier, developers are required to write less code in order to call methods for specific functionalities. All these practices let developers focus on the project-specific logic and reduce the development time and cost.

Use Case: Use jQuery to create browser-compatible web applications and AJAX-based applications.

Example: Bank of America, Udemy, Uber, Twitter, JPMorgan Chase

3. Express.js

Express.js is a lightweight and fast server-side framework based on Node.js, introduced to develop backend web applications and APIs. Since its release, it’s rising in popularity due to its robust features and minimalistic functionality. Apart from this, it’s being utilized by millions of web development firms for developing highly scalable enterprise apps and APIs. Simform has also used this framework to create the backend of a sentiment-based real-time market analytics engine named SentMap.

Undoubtedly, the popularity of Express is skyrocketing, to the point that you can even find several Node.js web frameworks out there built on Express.js. In fact, it has become an integral component of the JavaScript MEAN stack these days. 

According to the Stackoverflow Developer Survey, 23.82% of respondents voted Express as one of the most used web frameworks in 2021. However, its core library is small, and most of the functionalities are handled by plugins. Despite these limitations, there are many other features that make it a perfect fit for your web development needs.

Express Statistics

Source: StackOverflow

Key Features

  • Caching: Its caching potential reduces a website’s loading time by eliminating the need to re-execute the code constantly.
  • Middleware support: This framework in Node.js provides a middleware system and several HTTP utility methods to create Node. js-based applications and robust APIs quickly and fast.
  • Templating: Express has numerous template engines like EJS, Jade, Pug, etc., to design HTML pages conveniently.
  • Minimalistic: Its minimalistic and un-opinionated nature help developers build static-content servers and RESTful APIs. MVC architecture can also be followed using template engines like PUG and EJS for building web apps.

Why Express?

  • Flexible: This framework was designed to add core features of a web application to an already feature-rich Node.js platform, making it a flexible framework. 
  • Easy Leaning: Express is well documented and has several tutorials and examples available online. These tutorials can help you understand Express’s essential features and functionality, including URL routing, error handling, database integration, security features, etc.
  • Scalability: Express offers opportunities to scale your web applications as per your growing requirements by letting you add additional resources and nodes easily.
  • Low development & Maintenance Cost: Being a full-stack JavaScript framework, you can reduce development and maintenance costs because developers with full-stack knowledge can manage both the front-end and the back-end.
  • Excellent Community Support: Express is blessed with a huge active community of developers who are always ready to contribute to the growth of this framework.

Best Use Case: Express.js is the best option to build real-time streaming apps, eCommerce apps, on-demand applications, and REST-based APIs.

Examples: MuleSoft, Accenture, Myntra, Uber, Myspace, PayPal, Walmart, GoDaddy, Flickr

4. Angular

Angular is another open-source JavaScript framework that is dominating the list of web frameworks that exist today. Google introduced Angular.js in 2010 and then rewrote it from scratch and released it in 2016 as Angular 2 (a.k.a. Angular) to build high-performance and large-scale JavaScript-based web apps. Unarguably, it’s a mature framework to create SPAs and web pages for mobile and desktop platforms. 

Statista reports that it is one of the most popular web development frameworks used by 22.96% of developers worldwide. Moreover, it has 75.9k stars on GitHub and is being used by many renowned companies like BMW and Xbox. 

Kevin Kreuzer, an Angular Expert states the following about Angular in one of his tweets:

Web frameworks tweet

Angular uses TypeScript (a superset of JavaScript), HTML, and CSS along with web development tools to promote code consistency. The use of TypeScript makes this web framework best for enterprise-grade application development. However, it is a heavyweight framework with a steep learning curve.

Key Features

  • Two Way Data Binding:  With the help of boilerplate coding, Angular helps to reduce the development time. This feature also provides real-time synchronization between the model and view layers in the app’s architecture. Hence, any dynamic change made in the user interface also reflects in the backend and vice versa.
  • Templating: Templates are defined with HTML tags which makes the readability of code easier and development faster.  
  • Code Reusability: Angular helps develop the app faster by allowing developers to reuse components and even the architecture to reduce the build time. It also makes the testing process more straightforward.    
  • Open-source libraries Support: Angular Material and AgGrid are open source libraries supported by the Angular framework to quickly make the user interface responsive with various features.
  • Angular CLI: It is considered the best command line to build, scaffold, and maintain a web application.
  • Tooling Support: Angular supports Chrome and Firefox Dev tools and extensions to debug web apps. It also has a rich ecosystem of third-party libraries.

Why Angular?

  • Highly Secure Framework: Angular provides built-in support against web application vulnerabilities such as cross-site request forgery (XSRF) and cross-site script inclusion (XSSI). These vulnerabilities can be mitigated by DOM sanitation.
  • Cross-platform Compatibility: It is rich in features and compatible with cross-platform and client-side frameworks making Angular apps easy to use on web and mobile browsers.
  • Fast Development: Code generation is very quick in Angular and can be performed with server-side scripting languages like Node.js, PHP, and .NET.
  • High Performance: Router in Angular makes this framework ideal for building high-performance applications as it splits the code efficiently.  
  • Open Source Libraries: With Open-source libraries Angular Material and AgGrid, responsive user interfaces can be created feasibly. 
  • Developing Complex Projects: Features of testing, animations, and observables of Angular ensure that complex projects can be created with ease to some extent.

Best Use Case: Make Angular your first choice to build large-scale, multi-page, progressive web apps with minimal installations. High-performance cross-platform and native apps can also be created using this framework. 

Examples: YouTube, Google Translate

5. Vue.js

It was introduced in 2014 as the best alternative to Angular and React for building  SPAs and creating visually appealing user interfaces. It’s a progressive JavaScript framework that has combined the excellent traits of Angular (View Layer) and React.js (Virtual DOM). It made sure that Vue gained traction in no time. As a result, this is one of the most popular frameworks used widely for building responsive web applications. 

With more than 180K stars on Github, Vue.js has picked up popularity for creating intuitive web interfaces. It has grabbed the attention of many web development companies and enterprises with its flexible design structure and TypeScript support. The report from BuiltWith states that more than 167K websites are using Vue today. Moreover, it tops in GitHub ranking for the most starred web frameworks amongst others. Given this functionality and popularity,  no wonder it will soon reign in the web development industry.

Vue Usage Statistics

Source: BuiltWith

Key Features:

  • Virtual DOM: It enhances the application performance and efficiency of DOM updates. It lets Vue know which part of DOM needs to be re-rendered and which one should remain intact.
  • CLI: Vue CLI  makes scaffolding and prototyping of applications easy, making it a flexible framework for web development. It also reduces a considerate amount of time spent on project development.
  • Data Binding: Vue offers reactive two-way data binding, which means if any change is made in the UI, there will be an impact on the data and vice versa. 

Why Vue?

  • Easy to Learn & Understand: In-depth knowledge of libraries and tools relevant to Vue is not necessarily required to write code. Moreover, it is well-documented, and the basic understanding of HTML, CSS, and JS frameworks is enough to start your Vue project.
  • Lightweight & Fast:  Vue.js is lightweight by its default size, making it easy to download and install. Apart from this, apps developed in Vue launch very fast. As a result, a flawless user experience can be offered to users.
  • Flexibility: This framework is capable of integrating as an interactive module or library in an existing application or can be used to build an entire application. It adds flexibility to the web app development needs.
  • Easy Integration: You can easily customize an app as per your requirement with Vue by integrating the elements of this framework into the code or any existing app.
  • Extensive community support: Vue is a 100% community-driven framework. Thousands of web project bottlenecks have been solved through developers supporting the Vue community. It is actively growing, and the frequency of releasing updates is constant. 

Use Case: Use Vue.js to build high-performance progressive web apps and single-page applications in the shortest amount of time.

Examples: Grammarly, Alibaba, Xiaomi, Reuters, and Laracasts

6. Flask

Flask is a WSGI framework written in Python that runs on a web server instead of the user’s browser. It is categorized as a microframework as it doesn’t require tools and libraries by default. The database abstraction layer, form validation, and components are also not available in this framework. It doesn’t mean that Flask is lacking in functionality. It is intended to keep the core simple but extensible. After all, it supports extensions by letting developers add libraries and plugins to web apps like it was implemented in this framework. It’s a highly lightweight framework, which is gradually climbing the charts and gaining attention due to its flexibility. 

In the 2021 developer survey conducted by Stackoverflow, Flask developers have mentioned they are content and will continue working with Flask. Apart from this, 16.14% of respondents on Statista marked Flask as one of the most widely used web frameworks in 2021. Furthermore, Jetbrains also reported that 46% of Python developers prefer to use Flask for building web applications.

Flask is considered one of the best Python web frameworks to build modern and robust web applications, given the recent trends for developers to favor Python. Flask comes in handy with a default set of APIs, which provide innovative functionalities that could be added to an existing application. As a result, Flask is a smart choice for small and less complicated projects. However, it is not compatible with full-stack app development.

Flask Statistics

Source: JetBrains

Key Features

  • Built-in Development Server: The built-in Werkzeug development server offers an interactive debugger and allows developers to execute Python code directly in the browser if an unhandled error occurs during a request. 
  • WSGI Support and Templating: Flask has a Werkzeug toolkit to build WSGI-compatible web apps and Jinja2 to create templates.
  • RESTful Request Dispatching: Flask has a Restful extension that encourages minimum setup for building REST APIs quickly. It abstracts away HTTP boilerplate code and handles RESTful and HTTP requests efficiently.   
  • Fast to Develop and Deploy: Flask is easy to set up and designed to write less code and deploy fast as a microservice. It is lightweight and has fewer abstraction layers, and thus good to build an MVP quickly.
  • Minimalistic: It is a minimalistic framework to set up web servers quickly. Due to its minimalistic package, core components are bundled by default, and others are set up explicitly.

Why Flask?

  • Scalable: Flask is most preferred to build scalable applications as it can process vast amounts of requests irrespective of the changing requirements. 
  • Flexible:  Flask provides various built-in dynamic URL parameters, specific URL arguments, HTML attributes, and templates that provide full flexibility to improve the responsiveness of your web app. 
  • Faster Implementation: Flask facilitates experimentation by implementing any new or emerging technologies quickly. Hence, It’s the best framework to use if your web application demands new or innovative features. 
  • Easy to Learn: Flask is also known for its simplicity. It’s an un-opinionated framework and well-documented, making it easier to learn. Any developer with little experience can learn it quickly. 

Best Use Case: Flask is an excellent choice to create simple apps and machine learning or deep learning integrations in existing Python apps.  

Examples: Airbnb, Netflix, Uber, Pinterest, Twilio

7. Django

Django is another Python-based framework that is winning the hearts of developers and enterprises for building highly scalable web applications. From news sites to social networking web apps, this framework can work well with any client-side requirement. This framework can be used in any format such as HTML, JSON, and XML. It is a high-level Python framework, which developers like for its pragmatic and clean design. 

It is open-source and ridiculously fast for backend development. Built by experienced developers, this backend framework is the best pick for creating powerful API features such as naive GraphQL integration. The popularity of this framework can be seen in the Stackoverflow Developer survey, where Django has been listed as the most wanted framework in 2021.

Django Statistics

Source: StackOverflow

Key Features:

  • Security: Django is designed to help developers avoid several security issues such as XSS,  CSRF attacks, and SQL injections by default.
  • Scalability: Django is highly scalable due to its code reusability and caching option, making the application efficient to handle any traffic demand.  
  • Asynchronous Programming: Based on Model-View-Template architecture, this framework is built on top of Python that can run anywhere and supports asynchronous and reactive programming.
  • Battery Included: It’s a unique feature that allows developers to use packages for adding functionalities instead of writing code from scratch. It saves a lot of time, and hence developers can focus elsewhere where attention is needed in the app.

Why Django?

  • Rapid Development: Django allows developers to use multiple components at once, and there is no need to write individual code for every new functionality. It helps to develop MVP at a rapid rate. 
  • SEO Optimized: Applications built on Django are SEO-friendly and easy to optimize as they are maintained on servers through URLs instead of IP addresses.
  • Use Case Versatility: Django provides possibilities to build any type of website ranging from Content Management Systems (CMS) to news sites and social networking. 
  • Vast Community Support: It has a large community with more than 2K contributors, and many others are joining every day. With such support, you can find the solution for your problem very easily and quickly.

Use Case: It is the best framework for building highly scalable web apps, microservice architectures, and serverless computing. It works best where fast development time is a crucial factor.

Examples: Disqus, Instagram, Knight Foundation, Mozilla, National Geographic, Open Knowledge Foundation, Pinterest, and OpenStack

8. ASP.NET Core

This advanced version of ASP.NET is luring enterprises and developers worldwide with its flexible, scalable, and high-performance features. A Core version was introduced in 2016 as an open-source and modular framework to modernize and innovate its old tech stack ASP.NET in order to meet modern web development needs. Since then, this web framework is gaining immense popularity for creating high-performance, secure, and modern web applications. Furthermore, it can work seamlessly with JavaScript-based client-side frameworks.

It has marked its presence in the Stackoverflow Developer Survey 2021 as one of the most commonly used web frameworks. Today there are also more than 14,245 live websites using ASP.NET Core. Microsoft rewrites it as a modular framework to make it cross-platform compatible. It also unites ASP.NET MVC and ASP.NET Web API into a single model. Though it holds only 0.19% of the market share worldwide, selective developers still prefer it for website creations.

We have also built an intelligent web product for our client TransTMS using ASP.NET. We have used Core API integration and EDI integration to help our client stay ahead of the fluctuating market. In simple words, it’s a cross-platform framework that provides advanced features for building fast web pages and high-performance REST-based APIs.

ASP.NET Core StatisticsSource: StackOverflow  

Key Features:

  • Cross-platform Compatibility: ASP.NET Core applications work seamlessly with all client-side frameworks, and you can also deploy those apps to multiple platforms, including Linux, Windows, and macOS. 
  • Asynchronous Pattern: ASP.NET Core supports asynchronous patterns (async/await) of development, making this framework fast and enhancing app performance.
  • Unified Web API and MVC: In .NET Core, Web API and MVC merged to make the process of building APIs easier and implementation at the client’s end more feasible.
  • Supports Multiple Environment: Developers can differentiate between codes from various sections and separate environments according to the development, testing, staging, and production phase. Thus, it helps to manage the app efficiently without affecting any code or data in the app.
  • Razor Pages: Another vital feature of .NET Core that makes the framework less complex. This feature helps in building server-side rendered apps quickly and more productively.
  • Tooling Support: It has a full suite of excellent developer tools such as JetBrains Rider, Visual Studio Code, .NET Code Profiler, etc., to offer a wonderful rapid app development experience. 

Why ASP.NET Core?

  • Improved Performance: The Kestrel web server is redesigned for .NET Core to make this framework lightweight and fast.  As a result, it makes this framework perform efficiently by leveraging core libraries and tool optimization. 
  • Higher Flexibility: This framework provides flexibility by letting developers switch databases while reusing the code written in the .NET Core application. 
  • Cost-effective Development: It’s open-source and free; hence the overall web app development cost remains low.
  • Huge Community Support: This framework is trendy among developers and has a massive community of contributors. You can find many dedicated .NET developers contributing to its foundation for making this framework more powerful to build robust enterprise-grade web apps.

Use Case: Make ASP.NET Core your first choice for building IoT and cloud-based web apps, high-performant REST-based APIs, and cross-platform apps. 

Examples: Cafepress, Nibletext, etc.

In a Nutshell

Now you know about the eight web application frameworks that are in demand among developers and businesses. Unarguably, JavaScript frameworks are dominating the market with their excellent features and rich functionalities. However, Python frameworks are also leading the market with their advanced functionalities and fast development.

From this article, you are now aware of when to use which framework. There are several other frameworks and libraries out there, which we haven’t added to the list but are enticing developers and businesses to build web applications. Svelte, Spring and Fast API are a few to be named. The list we have explored here is based on the survey reports. So, you can choose the framework that you find most compatible with your web project. And, make sure that the framework you select can easily be maintained for at least the next five years, keeping future growth in mind.

If you are still confused about which framework to choose for your project requirement, then fret not. We are ready to help you! Drop a message or contact us anytime for queries.

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Hiren is VP of Technology at Simform with an extensive experience in helping enterprises and startups streamline their business performance through data-driven innovation.

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