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How to Choose a Right JavaScript Framework

March 31, 2010 • By

JavaScript frameworks allow you to develop and code with JS rapidly. Frameworks speed up your development process and reduce the amount of code needed to produce certain functions. Below we’re going to dive into JavaScript frameworks and analyze the most widely used of all. We are mostly going to elaborate on how to choose a framework and the questions you need to ask before you make a final choice.

Choosing a JavaScript Framework

As with any choice, there are several variables to consider before having a definite answer to which framework you would choose. You wouldn’t want to choose the first framework you come across because quite simply, it may not benefit you at all. The way we go about deciding which framework fits best with our needs is by asking a few questions. These questions will allow us to take a deeper look at the reasons why we may need a framework in the first place.

1) What’s the level of Maturity the Framework Operates on? If a framework shows signs of age it means that it’s probably going to be around for quite some time. You wouldn’t want to choose a framework that’s here today and gone the next. Not only will it make you unstable but your projects will ultimately suffer as well.

2) What’s required for the project(s) at hand? What do your projects require of you, do they need to operate on AJAX, or do they need to have a wide range of effects at their fingertips? All of these questions will help you analyze what is required of your projects. If a framework can’t provide at at least a majority of the things you need to develop and build your project, then it isn’t worth the trouble.

3) Analyze what is required of YOU to operate and maintain this framework? What level of skill would you need to install and interact with the code? And is it lightweight, hard to use, or does it have an extensive library? The above questions help you study the usability aspect of your framework. What good is a framework that’s hard to use? Not very good at all.

4) How often are new updates released? Using a framework actively means you’re always on the look-out for updates and new tweaks. You wouldn’t want to develop an application only to find out you’re going to have to be stuck in the “prehistoric age” for a long time due to no regular updates. Make sure you pay special attention to this area.

5) How well is the framework documented? Does it have official and detailed documentation for the API? Is the frameworks documentation updated regularly? Does the framework have detailed examples, syntax, and images to guide you? These questions on documentation can save your “hiney” more than once if you need to find something in rush without deviation.

6) What’s the community look like? Is it active, does it have experienced users, is it supportive? All of the above questions about the community will help you determine if the framework itself can offer you help through other venues such as a community. Many frameworks have communities, but they’re simply to young or they’re not strong enough. These sort of communities would be ideal for advanced developers.

Related Framework Questions

We’ve outlined several relevant questions (most with answers) pertaining to frameworks:

jQuery

jQuery is a well documented JavaScript Library that enhances the way you write your JS code. It stands for rapid development it being a fast and concise framework. Features that arrive with jQuery are event handling, quality animation, document traversing, Ajax interactions, CSS3 compliant, cross-browser compatibility and more. jQuery is one of the most widely used and easily the most popular of libraries for JavaScript.

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Mootools

MooTools is a powerful and flexible JavaScript framework that gives you flexibility. This modular and Object-Oriented framework was designed for the more knowledgeable and advanced developers. It comes with cross-browser compatibility code, easy to understand documentation, and an interactive API. MT is released under the Open Source MIT License which gives you the advantage allowing you to modify and customize it to whichever way you’d like.

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Prototype

Prototype is a JavaScript Framework that aims to ease development of dynamic web applications. Featuring a unique, easy-to-use toolkit for class-driven development and the nicest Ajax library around, Prototype is quickly becoming the codebase of choice for web application developers everywhere.

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ExtJs

Ext JS is an extensible JavaScript library that allows you to build rich Internet applications. With this cross-browser framework you’ll get high performance, customizable UI widgets, well designed and extensible component model, an intuitive API, and the support of a strong community do over 1 million developers.

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script.aculo.us provides you with easy-to-use, cross-browser user interface JavaScript libraries to make your web sites and web applications fly. You’ll get animation framework, drag and drop, Ajax controls, DOM utilities, and unit testing. It’s an add-on to the fantastic Prototype framework.

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MochiKit

MochiKit is a highly documented and well tested, suite of JavaScript libraries that will help you get web applications done, fast. The developers behind it took all the good ideas they could find from our Python, Objective-C, etc. experience and adapted it to the crazy world of JavaScript. MochiKit has HUNDREDS of tests. They build real applications with this thing. So even though development can move fast, they make sure to get tests written. Also, as far as server-side goes, MochiKit is totally agnostic.

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QooXdoo

qooxdoo is entirely class-based and tries to leverage the features of object-oriented JavaScript. It is fully based on namespaces and does not extend native JavaScript types to allow for easy integration with other libraries and existing user code. Most modern browsers are supported (e.g. Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, WebKit/Safari) and it is free of memory leaks. It comes with a comprehensive API reference, that is auto-generated from Javadoc-like comments and from the syntax tree representing the code.

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midori

midori is an ultra-lightweight JavaScript framework that gets the job done without getting in your way. You’ll be able to use CSS selectors to quickly and easily access matching elements within a page. Drag and Drop functionality as well. You’ll also have Pop-up menus, auto complete, inline edit, table selection, and various utility methods at your disposal.

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Yahoo! UI Library (YUI)

The YUI Library is a set of utilities and controls, written with JavaScript and CSS, for building richly interactive web applications using techniques such as DOM scripting, DHTML and AJAX. YUI is available under a BSD license and is free for all uses. YUI is proven, scalable, fast, and robust. Built by frontend engineers at Yahoo! and contributors from around the world, it’s an industrial-strength JavaScript library for professionals who love JavaScript.

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SproutCore

SproutCore is an open-source platform for building fast rich cloud applications on the web.  Specifically, the tools its team develops are suitable for building large-scale applications that scale to many millions of users across many different devices. The best way to get started with SproutCore is to install it!  Then, go through a tutorial or two and read the guides.  You can also get on the IRC channel (sproutcore on freenode), join the Google Group and get in touch with the fine developers all over the world building awesome apps with our platform.

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