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[DZone Research] JavaScript Flavors and Frameworks

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[DZone Research] JavaScript Flavors and Frameworks

We take a look at what respondents to our 2018 DZone Guide to Web Development survey told us about JavaScript and its frameworks.

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This post is part of the Key Research Findings in the 2018 DZone Guide to Dynamic Web and Mobile Development


For this year's DZone Guide to Databases, we surveyed software professionals from across the IT industry. We received 1,202 responses with a 64% completion rating. Based on these numbers, we calculated the margin of error at 3%. In this article, we discuss the various flavors of JavaScript developers use as well as their favorite front-end development frameworks.

JavaScript Flavors

JavaScript proved the most popular language for web application development among respondents to this year's DZone Guide to Web Development survey. JavaScript, however, differs from many other popular development languages in that there is no one, true JavaScript. While the ECMAScript standard has been established, there exist several supersets under the main JavaScript umbrella other than ECMAScript, such as TypeScript, CoffeeScript, and Elm. Of all these “flavors” of JavaScript, though, two established themselves as the most popular among our respondents: TypeScript (64%) and ES6 (58%). Interestingly, when we asked which flavor of JavaScript respondents are interested in (rather than which ones they’ve used), the percentages around TypeScript stayed rather static, but the percentages for ES6 fell by 10%, going from 58% who use it to 48% who are interested in it. And, though its adoption rate is low, CoffeeScript garnered a fair amount of interest as compared to its usage statistics. 12% of respondents reported using CoffeeScript, whereas 19% reported an interest in learning more about the language.

Front-End Frameworks

When setting up a front-end development environment, languages are only one part of the equation. Frameworks play an extremely important role in the creation of front-end apps, and three have come to dominate the landscape: React, Vue, and Angular. When we asked which of these frameworks respondents have used, 55% told us Angular, 52% reported AngularJS (i.e. the 1.x version of the Angular framework), 40% said React, and 15% said Vue. Much like we saw with the flavors of JavaScript, however, the frameworks developers are interested in differs from those they have used. When asked which client-side JavaScript framework they’re interested in using, 66% reported React, 43% said Angular, 35% told us Vue, and 30% said AngularJS.

The steep drop-off in AngularJS is not surprising given that the framework is now on version seven and has since switched to using TypeScript as its primary language. The dramatic increase in React and Vue, though, is of interest. React saw a 26% increase (40% reporting to have used it and 66% reported to be interested) and Vue went up by 20% (15% used vs. 35% interested in). Interestingly, current versions of Angular dropped 12% between these two categories. While the unpopularity of Angular as compared to React at first seems surprising given the wide spread adoption of Angular, this actually adheres to trends in the wider developer community. Earlier in 2018, Stack Overflow released a survey report that took into account the responses of over 100,000 developers and technologists. In this survey, React finished as the most loved web development framework and garnered the second most votes of any development framework (only behind TensorFlow). Additionally, React finished as the most wanted framework in this poll.

Conclusion: Mixing Flavors and Frameworks

When we compare the popular flavors of JavaScript to the main JavaScript-based frameworks used in front-end development, we see some interesting trends. Among respondents who code in React, 74% use ES6 and 74% use TypeScript. Among Vue developers, 83% use ES6 and 64% use TypeScript. While both of these frameworks were originally designed to be used with ES6-style JavaScript, the popularity of TypeScript has caused support for the language to appear in both of these frameworks. Docs on TypeScript support for Vue.js can be found here and for React.js here. It is interesting to note how significantly more popular TypeScript has proven thus far among React developers than Vue developers. This difference could simply be due to the fact that React is backed by Facebook and has had more resources to put into their support of TypeScript, from both a coding and community marketing perspective.

This post is part of the Key Research Findings in the 2018 DZone Guide to Dynamic Web and Mobile Development

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