6 min read

This year’s Skill Up survey produced some interesting results when it came to the best front end frameworks. Angular remains the most established tool with 40% of web developers reporting that they used it regularly. React is actually a little further behind, with 25% using it regularly. Similarly, Vue.js is growing but used by 20% of respondents.

However, opinion was a little different when we asked what front end frameworks should win the battle of the 3 big front end tools. Respondents were split on Angular and React, with both JavaScript tools winning 34% of the vote. Vue wasn’t far behind, at just over 30%.

With the web development world apparently split over what framework is going to define the future of the field, how are we to pick them apart? Or do we even really need to worry?

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The fact that we have three great front end tools jostling for developer attention is surely a good thing, right? To help us make sense of these trends, we caught up with Angular expert Minko Gechev to find out what he makes of web development in 2018, and what front end developers should be learning.

Minko Gechev is the author of Switching Angular. You can find the latest edition here on the Packt Store.

Which front end framework should you learn: Angular, React, or Vue?

Respondents to the Skill Up survey were evenly split between Angular, React, and Vue in the ‘battle of the frameworks’. Which do you think developers should learn, and why?

In all of them, there are unique and interesting ideas which are worth exploring. I truly believe that learning all the major frameworks can help developers go to the next level! This doesn’t necessary mean to be proficient in all of them. Having a high-level understanding of how the frameworks work and how to use them is completely enough and will allow you to adapt according to the projects’ requirements. This is similar to learning programming languages from different paradigms – it helps you discover how problems are being solved in different ways.

For the past a couple of years, the redux pattern became the de facto standard for state management in the modern front-end development. The good thing about redux is that it’s view agnostic so you can use it with any framework – Vue, React, Angular, etc. Angular has its own redux alternative called ngrx which empowers a declarative approach with RxJS but in general, it follows the same underlying pattern.

My recommendation would be to understand how to manage the state of our applications because that’s probably the most complex problem that we’re solving in our day to day development process. Once we have a solid understanding of this, we can easily switch between different frameworks depending on the problems we’re solving, what the rest of the team is using, and the project’s requirements.

A very interesting characteristic of learning Angular is that if we get comfortable with the framework we’d be also familiar with TypeScript, RxJS, and techniques such as dependency injection. This may look like an initial overhead but it’s a great long-term investment which pays off really well in large projects.

How important is TypeScript to front end development?

How important is TypeScript to modern web development? Why?

Over the past a couple of years I see a strong increase in the excitement around the language, not only in the Angular world but also in React and Vue. I’m personally using TypeScript for a few projects – a platform that we built with React and an educational application written in Angular.

I see a lot of value in using TypeScript. Recently I haven’t started any project with JavaScript – for everything new I’m using TypeScript and I’m trying to migrate, as many of my existing projects as possible.There are a few reasons for this:

  • TypeScript provides great development experience! Especially, combined with VSCode, you can instantly notice when you’ve misspelled a property, method, you’re trying to access a property of a nullable value, etc.
  • It gives you a sense of security that your program is correct to given extent. Of course, TypeScript cannot save us from logical mistakes but if we use its type system wisely, we can get great benefits.

You might be curious what benefits? Well, TypeScript can help us reduce the number of bugs in our programs. In the study “To Type or Not to Type: Quantifying Detectable Bugs in JavaScript” the authors shown that the average JavaScript program can benefit with 15% bug reduction if it uses the type system of TypeScript. The study was using TypeScript version 2.0; with the latest features of the language the number of detectable bugs is growing dramatically.

Since recently webpack is leveraging TypeScript as well because it helps discover already existing issues in the codebase.

Web developers and JavaScript fatigue

Do you think we’re past web developers experiencing ‘JavaScript fatigue’?

JavaScript is very dynamic and it moves very quickly. There are a lot of potential issues which could be caused by a variety of reasons. With semantic versioning and powerful type systems (such as the type system of TypeScript), we’re walking in the right direction but we definitely have a long way to go until the ecosystem matures.

Web development over the next 12 months: WebAssembly and machine learning

What do you think will be the most important thing for developers to learn in the next 12 months?

There are a lot of exciting things happening nowadays! Web browsers are getting more and more powerful, exposing hundreds of APIs and opportunities.

WebAssembly is moving very quickly and I believe that together with Rust it has a lot of potential in future.

On the other hand, Google recently announced TensorFlow.js. This is a library which allows us to use machine learning (ML) in the browser. In the next years, ML is going to take a larger portion of our development process (directly or indirectly) for:

  • Implementing features in our applications
  • Improving development process

I’m specifically interested in the second point – improving our development process by using ML. Together with Addy Osmani, Kyle Mathews, and Katie Hempenius, we’ve been working on a toolkit called Guess.js. It aims to provide predictive bundling and pre-fetching based on ML techniques in order to let us develop faster Angular/React/Vue/etc. applications.

I’m really excited about what’s coming up in near future!

So are we! Thanks for taking the time to speak to us, Minko!

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


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