Where is JavaScript going in 2017?

JavaScript has been a cornerstone of web development – well, of good web development – for years. If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, it is high time that you do. Technology isn’t waiting around for anybody, and the development and tools of JavaScript in particular are very fast-paced.

Even if you are familiar with JavaScript and some of its frameworks, what was the best of the best in 2016 may well be completely outdated and replaced by newer technology in 2017. Thankfully, we are here to help you find the hottest JS libraries and frameworks to get into this year.

No more excuses – make learning JavaScript one of your new year’s resolutions. Trust me, it’s easier than going to the gym.

What about Node.js?

You’ve probably heard of, or even tried Node before. It has as many fans as people who can’t stand hearing about it, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a great library. It’s fast-growing, it works well with Gulp, and it is connected to lots of open source projects to further extend its uses, such as Mocha.js or Sails.js.

That’s all good and well, but this is 2017 and I promised something new – so here is Keystone.js. It goes well beyond what Node has to offer, and it does it well. It’s a pure JS CMS, and if you haven’t tried that before, you really should. It works well with Node, Mongo and Express, and it is still brand-new. This is the time to get started with Keystone. The system is still fluid enough that your input could help change and shape it, before it becomes as polished as Node.

Are Angular and Ember still around?

Well, of course they are. But they are no longer alone. When previously they hogged their corner of the JavaScript world – front-end frameworks, there is a new contestant in the ring. Vue.js has a somewhat steep learning curve, but it’s simplicity and effectiveness has converted many. It can do in just a few lines of code what may take twice as much in Angular or Ember, and as such it has gained quite a following already. In fact, just at the end of last year, Vue 2.0 has been released, bringing with it many new features and fixes, largely determined by the community. The developers have been very keen on input, and made Vue better with the help of their users.

A big sale point is the plugins – there are many already, and new ones are constantly in development. One that stands out is Vuelidate, a no-dependency lightweight plugin that allows you to validate your data, based on custom validations as well as standard ones such as Length or required. Not convinced yet? How about Vuetify then, a framework that lets you build applications from variable and reusable components. It aligns in a 12-column grid, the same way Bootstrap does, adding an element of familiarity.

If Vue can’t entice you, how about Svelte? It is one of the newest frameworks out there, having only been released mid-November 2016, but it has made quite the splash. I won’t go into too many details, but the advantages of Vue, combined with a much, much, much smaller file size have the community shivering with antici…pation.

A ‘Hello World’ with Vue will be somewhere in the 5kb range (which is already pretty decently small), but Svelte can do it with 2kb. For reference, a similar thing in React will be in the realm of 40kb. Depending on your project-size, Svelte could make a huge difference. That being said, it is still in it’s infancy, so you may want to hold off on basing your next big thing on it just yet.

Any news on React?

While React is still huge, it’s just about reached it’s high-point. Too many more lightweight frameworks are on the market now, it is slowly becoming a bit dated. That certainly doesn’t mean you should abandon it altogether, quite the opposite in fact.

Many big cheeses still very much rely on it in their projects and with good reason. What made it great still applies. Facebook is built on it, and it’s usefulness for building UIs is not to be disregarded. So, instead consider combining it with something else.

Meteor for example.

While Meteor can be combined with pretty much any framework, it yields particularly amazing results with React. Users have found them to be particularly fast-paced and simple together. In fact, a platform made of these two has been specifically built in order to create social media networks with it. It’s called Telescope, and it’s great to build social media type apps.

All of the above mentioned mainly affect the user experience, but there is one new(ish) framework that makes it easier on the developer too. Aurelia.io it is called, and it’s main focus is to take out a little of the hassle of developing and instead putting more focus on the creativity of the work. Or at least, that’s what the developers claim. Sounds a little eccentric, they also refer to JavaScript as EcmaScript on their website, which while true is a little dated, however, the framework itself has merit.

It’s made of small, lightweight modules that can be combined and used as they are needed, rather than having one solid framework. They also place a lot of stock in making Aurelia easily testable, thereby, again, making it easier on the developers. It is a rare boon to find a framework that prioritises developer comfort without compromising on user results.

Aurelia doesn’t have any ground-breaking features, nothing that hasn’t done before, but it’s refreshing focus on the developers will make your work a little more comfortable. If only for the novelty, give it a try. 2017 is a great time to try something new after all.

But I like Angular/React…

And if all of these novelties aren’t for you, have a look at Angular 2. It is, as you may have guessed, the next generation of Angular, and it comes with some nifty improvements. It’s very popular, as much as Angular was when it first got big – though you should probably look into React a little first. Odds are, if you’ve read this far and you’re still interested, you already know React, or at least know of React, but in case you have not: it will make the learning curve a lot less steep if you are familiar with React.

A big bonus here is that it’ll look good on your resume. Really getting to know a framework takes some work, but if you are really comfortable with Angular2 (or React) you will find it to be a big bonus, career-wise. Angular/Angular2/React may take up to half a year for you to really, really get good at them. The learning curve is generally not that steep-especially not compared to Vue- but there is a lot to learn. Great functionality takes time to learn…that at least hasn’t changed in 2017.

Here’s to hoping it’ll be a good year!

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