– we create awesome web applications

This is the 4rd and a last post of the series, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

The initial release of AngularJS happened just one week after the release of Backbone.JS, but was pretty much ignored for a while. It took some time to understand that in addition to Javascript, HTML and CSS, frontend developers that wanted to succeed with Angular had to learn ng-extensions too. Within a few years, Angular became very popular among developers. The only problem was that it was very easy to get started with it, but pretty complicated for more advanced things.

Exactly one year later, ex-Rails core engineer Yehuda Katz released Ember. The first version was super opinionated and had a high entry barrier. Instead of trying to solve some small tactical issues, Ember directly targeted full-featured client-side web applications.

Two years after that, Facebook released the first version of React - a breath of fresh air for frontend development. No monolithic applications, no misplaced MV (whatever) patterns, no extensions. Yes to Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, album released that same year. The concept of React was very simple: representation is a function of an application state. Just implement the render function as a function of a state, include optional lifecycle callbacks, and React will take care of the rest.

Later, Facebook introduced Flux, frontend application architecture with unidirectional data flow. Dan Abramov’s react-redux based on Redux is probably the best implementation of the same concept of unidirectional data flow. It took about a year and a half for the community to catch up and by the end of 2014, React became extremely popular.

And at the beginning of 2015, Facebook released React Native, a framework for building native apps with React that introduced the concept of “learn once write many”. iOS and Android applications will not share 100% of the code, but it is possible to reach 60-90% depending on the requirements. Compared with 0% code sharing when developing ObjectiveC/Swift for iOS and Java for Android, this is quite an achievement. Especially when taking into account that development is mostly done using React and Javascript.

Angular 2 entered the beta stage in late 2015 and was released in September 2016. Its breaking changes and a few concept shifts deprecated most of the knowledge and experience that developers had accumulated while working with Angular. Some developers were angry about these changes because they had to re-invest time to basically writing everything again from scratch using Angular 2. But some were happy because the new version was better engineered and more fun to work with.

Initially released in 2014, Vue gained popularity around the same time that Angular 2 was released. It was what Angular JS should have been from the beginning.

At the end of 2015 and most of 2016 there was a popular joke: two new Javascript frameworks were probably released while you were reading this sentence. And another three have just died.


So, what should I use now?

React. Unless you have someone on board who is familiar with Angular, then use Angular or Vue and consider React anyway.

What should I learn if I am just entering this field?

React. It will allow you to develop desktop/mobile web apps, native mobile apps, and even Windows applications using react-native-windows.

What’s next?

Progressive Web Apps are the next stage in web frontends. It deserves its own series of posts.