Choosing the right JavaScript frameworks for 2019

NPM blog on javascript blog, picture of packages in warehouse
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The popularity and usage of frameworks and libraries is something that matters a lot to us developers. It’s a consideration every time we start a new project. After all, the most popular frameworks are the ones that are well maintained, well documented and receive the most community support. I, along with most of the developers I know have a collection of sources (podcasts, blogs, twitter, youtube videos etc.) that we gather all of our news and information from. We scour through these sources every time there’s a new update to stay ahead of the game.

As you can imagine, keeping up with tech can be time consuming. There’s a lot of noise out there, and different sources often contain contradictory information and biases depending on the  preference of the writer.

This is why npm Co-Founder Laurie Voss’ recent presentation on “npm and the Future of Javascript” is so valuable. NPM is a 3rd party dependency manager for Javascript developers. In Voss’ presentation, he released some valuable data, giving developers access to real numbers on libraries & framework usage so we no longer have to rely on speculation.

Key findings

The results of the 2017 JavaScript ecosystem survey were gathered from a huge sample size of over 16,000 NPM users. Based on these findings, we are able to gain some insight into the current trends of frameworks, languages, and libraries.

The reign of javascript continues

JavaScript continues to be the most popular language by far on Github with the number of pull requests sitting at 2.3 million. Currently, the number of pull requests made on JavaScript are more than double that of any other language, with Python coming in at 2nd place with 1 million pull requests made. Because JavaScript is so incredibly popular, the libraries and frameworks created for it will only continue to increase.

React on the rise

60% of npm users say they use React

React’s popularity continues to rise. This can be attributed to it’s modular nature and the flexibility to couple React with different libraries. The introduction of Redux in 2015 made it easier for developers to manage state, almost rendering Flux (which would’ve been coupled with React) obsolete.

GraphQL takes off

GraphQL has been skyrocketing in terms of popularity. The ability to filter and make excellent relational queries is saving developers time by delivering the results they need efficiently.

Some takeaways

There was a host of valuable insight I didn’t touch on in this blog but I highly recommend checking out the full presentation. The data released is extremely insightful for choosing which frameworks to learn, and which ones to consider for your next project. Below are some of my main takeaways from Laurie’s presentation.

1. Choose popular frameworks

As stated in the intro and in Laurie’s presentation, the best frameworks to use are the ones with the most users. I think this comes as no surprise to most developers out there. Now we actually have the data to tell us which frameworks those are. Even if the most popular frameworks aren’t technically the best, they’re the ones that receive the most support. If you’d like to make your life easier, this would be a smart move.

2. Use React

As a continuation to my previous point, the most popular framework right now happens to be React. Choosing the most popular framework means choosing React. If you want to be up to date and marketable as a developer, mastering React is a must…at least for the foreseeable future.

3. Learn/use GraphQL

As seen through the data, GraphQL is becoming more and more widely used. Compared to REST APIs, it is a smarter way to fetch data. However, it’s important to bare in mind that the ecosystem around GraphQL is still young. It lacks the support for browser and mobile caching, and also the native support to integrate authorization and authentication. I wouldn’t recommend treating GraphQL as a replacement for REST.