4 min read

Ionic Framework today released Ionic Framework 4.0. The release is a complete rebuild of the popular JavaScript framework for developing mobile and desktop apps. Although Ionic has, up until now, Ionic was built using Angular components, this new version has instead been built using Web Components. This is significant, as it changes the whole ball game for the project. It means Ionic Framework is now an app development framework that can be used alongside any front end frameworks, not just Angular.

The shift away from Angular makes a lot of sense for the project. It now has the chance to grow adoption beyond the estimated five million developers around the world already using the framework. While in the past Ionic could only be used by Angular developers, it now opens up new options for development teams – so, rather than exacerbating a talent gap in many organizations, it could instead help ease it.

However, although it looks like Ionic is taking a significant step away from Angular, it’s important to note that, at the moment, Ionic Framework 4.0 is only out on general availability for Angular – it’s still only in Alpha for Vue.js and React.

Ionic Framework 4.0 and open web standards

Although the move to Web Components is the stand-out change in Ionic Framework 4.0, it’s also worth noting that the release has been developed in accordance with open web standards. This has been done, according to the team, to help organizations develop Design Systems (something the Ionic team wrote about just a few days ago) – essentially, using a set of guidelines and components that can be reused across multiple platforms and products to maintain consistency across various user experience touch points.

Why did the team make the changes to Ionic Framework 4.0 that they did?

According to Max Lynch, Ionic Framework co-founder and CEO, the changes present in Ionic Framework 4.0 should help organizations achieve brand consistency quickly, and to give development teams the option of using Ionic with their JavaScript framework of choice.

Lynch explains:

“When we look at what’s happening in the world of front-end development, we see two major industry shifts… First, there’s a recognition that the proliferation of proprietary components has slowed down development and created design inconsistencies that hurt users and brands alike. More and more enterprises are recognizing the need to adopt a design system: a single design spec, or library of reusable components, that can be shared across a team or company. Second, with the constantly evolving development ecosystem, we recognized the need to make Ionic compatible with whatever framework developers wanted to use—now and in the future. Rebuilding our Framework on Web Components was a way to address both of these challenges and future-proof our technology in a truly unique way.”

What does Ionic Framework 4.0 tell us about the future of web and app development?

Ionic Framework 4.0 is a really interesting release as it tells us a lot about where web and app development is today. It confirms to us, for example, that Angular’s popularity is waning. It also suggests that Web Components are going to be the building blocks of the web for years to come – regardless of how frameworks evolve. As Lynch writes in a blog post introducing Ionic Framework 4.0, “in our minds, it was clear Web Components would be the way UI libraries, like Ionic, would be distributed in the future. So, we took a big bet and started porting all 100 of our components over.”

Ionic Framework 4.0 also suggests that Progressive Web Apps are here to stay too. Lynch writes in the blog post linked to above that “for Ionic to reach performance standards set by Google, new approaches for asynchronous loading and delivery were needed.” To do this, he explains, the team “spent a year building out a web component pipeline using Stencil to generate Ionic’s components, ensuring they were tightly packed, lazy loaded, and delivered in smart collections consisting of components you’re actually using.”

The time taken to ensure that the framework could meet those standards – essentially, that it could support high performance PWAs – underscores that this will be one of the key use cases for Ionic in the years to come.


Co-editor of the Packt Hub. Interested in politics, tech culture, and how software and business are changing each other.