Essential JavaScript Libraries and Frameworks You Should Use

Essential JavaScript Libraries and Frameworks You Should Use

As a programmer, you are familiarized with JavaScript, a dynamic programming language that has been evolving consistently ever since it launched two decades ago. To improve development workflow, working with the latest JavaScript libraries and frameworks is key.

This is an article that presents the best JavaScript libraries and tools, as well as most popular JavaScript frameworks that you may need to start learning as soon as possible considering the fast-paced advancements that define JavaScript as a programming language.

The Difference between JavaScript Libraries and Frameworks

We often hear terms such as JavaScript library or JavaScript Framework but for many people new to the field don’t know the difference between JS libraries and JS frameworks. Many online venues have tried to come up with answers to this frequently asked question.

  • What is a JavaScript library?

A good answer states that a JS library is a library of pre-written JavaScript codes designed to enhance easier development of JS-based applications. Subsequently, a JavaScript library could contain several methods, objects, or functions, which depends on the language.

Your application, parent code, can call on the JS library to permit access to functionality.

  • What is a JavaScript framework?

A JavaScript framework is a javascript collection of libraries that will call on and use the parent code in a particular way. A framework defines the entire application design owning control of your application and offering callbacks and hooks upon which you can build.

JavaScript Libraries

A JavaScript library is a piece of code that can be reused to provide specific functionality. It is different from a framework in its control flow: a library offers functions, classes, and objects to be called by its parent code, i.e., to be used in your application.

The library will extract or select different layers, which means that you will not need to be concerned about the details of implementation. Call a function in the library and hand it several parameters. The JavaScript library will execute it and return the control to you.

JavaScript libraries do not impose structural constraints to limit the way you use the library.

Check out this popular collection of JavaScript libraries:

  1. React

The developers of Instagram and Facebook are the creators of React, a versatile JavaScript library, which developers have designated as the most-loved technology as per the 2017 Stack Overflow Survey. Th GitHub star count rates it the most popular JavaScript project.

React lets developers generate an interactive user interface via a declarative method that allows full control of the application state by stating “the view should look like this.”

React employs a component-based model and each component is a reusable user interface element with its own state. Using a virtual DOM, React is one of the best JavaScript libraries that takes worries related to the direct manipulation of the DOM out of the equation.

React is a feature-rich Java Script library and some of its most outstanding characteristics include optional JSX syntax, one-way data flow, and a command-line tool that enhances the creation of a React project with no need to configure building.

  1. jQuery

What is jQuery? jQuery is a JavaScript Library, and you can download jQuery on jquery.com or the JavaScript website, where you can also find jQuery documentation on how to use jQuery. The jQuery library is a free cross-platform software using permissive MIT license.

What is jQuery used for? JavaScript jQuery allow easier DOM manipulation and make JavaScript more accessible. Is jQuery a framework? No, Java Script jQuery is a library, not a framework. It is a developer-friendly library due to easy syntax and soft learning curve.

jQuery is one of the most popular JavaScript libraries and its popularity as a reliable website builder with cross-browser support was powered by fundamental characteristics, such as event handling, DOM manipulation based on CSS selectors, and ability to make AJAX calls.

JavaScript as a programming language has evolved extensively and several of the latest jQuery features have been integrated with the newest ECMAScript specification.

Today’s top JavaScript frameworks and libraries no longer require DOM manipulation techniques as they have a built-in method of binding the DOM. Within this context, jQuery may not be as popular as it used to, but it remains one of the most used JavaScript libraries.

  1. D3: Data-Driven Documents

D3 is a visualization library that uses standards such as HTML, SVG, and CSS. It is a powerful and unique JavaScript library that enhances the control over the final result substantially.

D3: Data-Driven Documents binds the data to the DOM and makes the transformation to the document. With its own ecosystem of libraries and plugins, D3 has extended its basic functionality. Also, there are numerous tutorials and documentation available online.

  1. Underscore and Lodash

Underscore entered the JavaScript realm in 2009 and was developed by Jeremy Ashkenas as a versatile utility library encompassing more than 100 different functions. Such functions let developers control objects, arrays, and other functions.

Key features include functional programming helpers, such as map, filter and reduce. FP, or Functional Programming is a popular paradigm that shuns changing state and altering data.

Lodash entered the world of JavaScript libraries in 2012. Designed by John-David Dalton, Lodash offers consistent iteration support across various environments for strings, arrays, and argument objects.

Today, Lodash is Underscore’s superset defined by enhanced documentation and more features. Most developers, including Underscore contributors, are now working with Lodash instead of Underscore.

The standards of JavaScript have evolved so much that many of the utilities made available by external libraries are now included in JavaScript.

Within this context, Lodash and Underscore may no longer be needed although both Lodash and Underscore remain excellent utility libraries particularly helpful for FP applications.

Popular JavaScript Frameworks

JavaScript Frameworks establishes and controls the control flow of your application. It defines the skeleton and tells developers how essential elements should be organized. The best JavaScript frameworks also provide basic functionality to set up the application.

Using a JavaScript Framework, you become compelled to respect the design patterns and principles of the respective framework. The framework calls you, whereas you call a library.

JavaScript frameworks frequently consist of numerous libraries. They have a high abstraction level and a series of inbuilt features, including testing, template binding, data binding, AJAX calls, or event handling. Here are some of the best JavaScript frameworks:

The Big Three of JavaScript Frameworks

Three major frameworks govern the world of JavaScript in the popularity category, i.e., Angular, Vue, and React. These frameworks are the best place to start learning a framework for new developers. There are plenty of learning resources available.

  1. Angular

Once coined as the most popular and the best javascript framework as well as the best front end framework for JavaScript, Angular had the support of Google as well as that of a solid group of corporations and individuals. Angular’s latest version was released in 2016.

  1. Js

Vue.js is a progressive JavaScript framework released in 2014 by Evan You at a time that he was still a part of the Google team. An open-source framework, Vue.js has changed dramatically since 2014 and is now considered a refined SPA.

Vue’s progressiveness makes it a powerful JavaScript framework because you can add it into your application progressively. It is a framework that can be easily mixed and matched into your JS projects, a great feature that both Angular and Ember lack.

Features available with Vue.js include templates, components, two-way data binding, reactivity focus, and transitions.

  1. Bootstrap

Bootstrap is a front-end JavaScript framework that was created for those who don’t like design. Formerly known as Twitter Blueprint, Bootstrap promotes itself as the best JS, HTML, and CSS framework for mobile-first, responsive projects.

Mark Otto and Jacob Thornton, who were part of Twitter at the time, launched Bootstrap in 2011. It is a framework that people who are not designers can use to produce without great effort reasonable-looking sites and implement responsive design.

Bootstrap uses JS plugins and CSS icons, styles, and components. The plugins include models, alerts, dropdowns, and buttons, among others.

  1. Ember.js

Another open-source JS framework, Ember.Js is a build tool developed by Yehuda Katz as SproutCore 2.0 and released in 2011. It has an inbuilt router and Ember Data. Ember.js is considered an adaptable, rigid framework focusing on convention rather than configuration.

Ending thoughts on JapaScript Libraries

Many new developers feel discouraged by seasoned developers who claim the JavaScript arena is changing too fast. As a new developer, you may hear complaints about how there are too many JavaScript libraries and frameworks emerging too quickly.

Yes, the JavaScript world is a fast-paced environment; there’s no point denying the obvious. However, you still need to learn a framework if you want to enter the JS realm. This article only offers a quick glance at the vibrant world of JavaScript libraries and frameworks.

Move on to the next level and select a framework and library and commence learning!

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