JavaScript Frameworks: The Best 10 for Modern Web Apps

JavaScript Frameworks 2015

Building web applications using plain JavaScript? No Way! In the times of rapid app development, we need better ways to quickly develop interactive web applications and that is where JavaScript frameworks come to the rescue. JavaScript frameworks are the backbone of single page web applications developmentand provide superpowers to plain HTML and JavaScript.

Plain JavaScript along with jQuery has been used for years to build complex web interfaces but with lot more effort and complexity in code development and maintenance. 

Use of JavaScript Frameworks give you space to focus on developing interactive elements of the user interface without worrying too much about code structure and code maintenance.

Most of the JavaScript frameworks work on MVC design paradigm and enforce structure to ensure more scalable, reusable, maintainable JavaScript code. It however is not necessary that all frameworks ride on MVC pattern, there are many variations to it and one has choice to go with MV*, MVVM, MVP as is best suited to the project needs.

JavaScript frameworks are mushrooming everywhere now a days. Let us look at the best 10 JavaScript frameworks that are most advanced, feature rich, popular among developer community and make it possible to build complex and feature rich single page interactive web applications.

1. Angular.js

AngularJS, the baby of Google, is the big daddy of JavaScript frameworks. It was first released in 2009 and made available as open source framework under MIT license. Ever since its release, Angular ecosystem has grown beyond imagination. It currently boasts the biggest community of developers and is the most used JavaScript framework for developing Single Page Web Applications.

AngularJS framework gives super powers to HTML by adding all the necessary features required to build dynamic views (interactive user interface). It gives option to extend HTML attributes by the use of Angular directives. Extending HTML with AngularJS is very simple, one can use standard AngularJS directive or develop a custom directive and mount it on any div. 

When Angular compiler compiles and renders the HTML on user interface, it does the DOM manipulation and attaches all features provided by the directive used. Of course, this is just one aspect of how AngularJS can be used to empower web applications.

Two way data binding is at the core of Angular.js. When user interacts with the interface and provides an input, the view and the model (JavaScript objects) are synchronized, the logic in the model is executed and the DOM gets updated.

The reverse is true as well, if model gets updated, view is re-rendered. This essentially takes away all the pain of writing manual code for DOM manipulation

Recently released Framework ReactJS is giving tough competition to AngularJs but Angular is holding the ground tight and growing in demand as ever before. The main reason behind Angular's continuous growth is the improvements and advancements it brings in with every new release. 

You can read more about Angular at the official website -

2. React.js

What powers Facebook and Instagram’s user Interface? React.js JavaScript Framework is behind the user interface of Facebook as well and Instagram. This gives us a quick idea about how powerful is ReactJS when it comes to building large scale applications of extreme dynamic nature.

ReactJS was first released as open source in 2013 under BSD license. The community is growing rapidly ever since its release and I must say it is the fastest growing JavaScript framework as of today. One can find tons of resources, tutorials and React component libraries to get going within no time.

ReactJS is best at rendering complex user interfaces with high performance. The basic fundamental behind React is the concept of virtual DOM. ReactJS utilizes a virtual DOM, which can be rendered either at client side or server side and communicate back and forth.

When the data manipulation is much more dynamic and complex, client side DOM manipulations become performance intensive.

The React approach to handle this is –

  • Render the DOM at server side, the virtual DOM.
  • Compare virtual DOM to the browser/actual DOM and figure out differences.
  • Update only the selective/changed nodes of browser DOM instead of re-rendering the entire DOM.

Another biggest advantage of react is the re-usability it brings on the table in the form of reactive components. React component libraries can be created and used across applications or made available for public use.  

Material-UI framework implements Google’s material design using react components, a great example. 

If you want to get further inspiration then head straight to Instagram, its user interface is completely powered by React.JS.

You can know more about React at -

3. Ember.js

EmberJS is another powerful MVC JavaScript framework. Ember was initially released in 2011 as open source JavaScript framework by Yehuda Katz under MIT license. EmberJS competes with the likes of Angular and React when it comes to building interactive frontend user interfaces and also has a very active community of developers.

Ember also rides on the principal of two way data binding like AngularJS, i.e. update view when model changes and update model when the view changes, keeping both in sync all of the time.

Ember is managing to be among the top JavaScript Frameworks by continuously strengthening itself with new superpowers. It is coming up with Fastboot.js module that allows server side rendering of DOM, the concept similar to what React is already using for better performance in complex UI rendering.

Ember targets the best of both AngularJS (two way data binding) and ReactJS (server side rendering). The way Ember community continues to power it with awesome features, I am more than sure that it will continue to ride the growing wave of JavaScript Frameworks.

You can read more about Ember at -

4. Aurelia.js

AureliaJS is the creation of Rob Eisenberg and team who come mostly from the world of Angular and Durandal. Aurelia though is an open source product is officially managed by Durandal Inc., a startup company that creates libraries, tools and frameworks to support next generation of web development.

Aurelia is just released, in January 2015, and is ready for production use. It extends the capabilities of Durandal and is termed as NextGen version of it by Eisenberg. For the existing developers who work in Durandal or Angular1 and 2, Aurelia comes with a clear migration path.

AureliaJS is new but if you are evaluating a JavaScript Framework, it definitely needs a consideration. It is managed by highly professional community and carries a great legacy.

A power fact about AureliaJS is that it is highly modularized and comprises of many independent small libraries. One can use entire framework in the project, use few of the required libraries, or extend the selected libraries to create custom framework.

Aurelia is self-contained package and doesn't have any external dependencies except for polyfills.

You can read more about AureliaJs at official website -

5. Meteor.js

Love developing complete web application in pure JavaScript? MeteorJS is the magical full stack platform for building end to end mobile and web applications completely in JavaScript at lightning speed. MeteorJS is the power player and comes equipped with all the features you need for frontend rendering, backend development, business logic and database management.

Meteor is the baby of Meteor Development Group, it was first released in 2012 as an open source JavaScript framework under MIT license.

Ever since its release, the MeteorJS ecosystem has grown huge at rapid pace and the community too is vibrant and helpful. You would find tons of resources, tutorials and custom packages that give super powers to MeteorJS.

The best thing about MeteorJS is that you use only JavaScript for end to end application development, no need to invest time learning anything else. Meteor.JS is modular and the packages and libraries can be used on demand.

The server side packages run in the node.js and you do not need anything else but MeteorJS packages to access the database, all in JavaScript, this makes MeteorJS applications real time web applications.

From Performance perspective, any changes in the database are reflected back on the UI in the real time and vice versa without the handshake between different languages or without major overhead of server response times.

You can read more about Meteor at -

6. Backbone.js

Are you looking for a lightweight but full featured JavaScript Framework? Backbone.JS is the one for you! It was first released in 2010 by Jeremy Ashkenas as open source JavaScript Framework under MIT license.

The popularity and power of backbone can be judged from the fact that biggies like Pinterest, Foursquare, Walmart, Disqus and Delicious are using backone.js. This is just a small subset of backbone users and the actual list is really huge to be covered here.

The good thing about backbone is that it is simple, small size package and easy to learn. You can get started building apps with Backbone JavaScript Framework within no time.

Backbone is very flexible in a way that it comes with just the minimal and you can build anything on top of it, by writing your own code or by using third party JavaScript frameworks. One can even build a fully functional opinionated framework with backbone at the core.

Over the past few months or so, I see comparatively slow growth in Backbone usage as compared to the rivals Angular, Ember or the newly launched React.

The main reason for that appears to be the sluggish release cycle of backbone and lack of power features that other frameworks offer out of the box.

It of course is still useful but more as a side framework rather than the core framework of your web project.

You can read more about Backbone at -

7. Polymer.js

Polymer.js is a different ball game altogether. Polymer was released by Google back in 2013. Polymer uses the concept of web components to extend HTML capabilities.

Web Components is the browser technology released by W3C using which new custom HTML elements can be created. For example <audio> is a standard HTML5 element but with the web components and related technologies you can create your own custom element  - like <my-audio>.

Polymer gives powers and brings structure in building custom HTML elements using browser based technologies that includes web components.

You can read more about Polymer at -

8. Knockout.js

KnockoutJS was initially released by Steve Sanderson in 2010 as open source JavaScript Framework under MIT license. Knockout works under the MVVM design paradigm and that makes it a little different from Ember and Angular.

Knockout has had its golden time but as of now it is growing at a much slower pace as compared to the earlier competitors like Angular, Ember or Backbone. The slow growth is simply because it lags way behind in terms of improvements and adding more features.

Developer community is slowly moving to frameworks like React and Angular. Knockout has a great legacy and can definitely make a come back but only if someone else adopts it and starts nurturing it with the latest and greatest of the world of JavaScript technologies.

You can read more about Knockout at

9. Vue.js

Vue.Js is the creation of Evan you. It was first released in 2014 as open source framework for public use under MIT license.

VueJs is relatively new and is gaining lot of traction among the community of developers. VueJs works with MVVM design paradigm and has a very simple API. VueJs demonstrate minimalism to the extreme and allows you to use selective modules, as required.

Vue is inspired by AngularJS, ReactiveJs, knockoutJS and RivetsJS and updates model and view via two way data binding.

While Vue is not in the league of Angular or Ember but conceptually has all the potential to be the JavaScript framework of future and hold respactable market share. It is holding the ground firmly after 10 months of its release and getting regular updates by the creator, Evan You. 

You can know more about VueJs at -

10. Mercury.js

We are seeing release of new JavaScript frameworks at a pace witnessed never before. The promising new entrants in any field definitely get a place in my top ten lists. Mercury.JS is one such framework that has just been launched and seems to have a bright future.

Mercury is the creation of Raynos and available as open source under MIT license. It is fast growing in popularity and is getting lot of attention from the community of JavaScript Developers.

Mercury appears to be inspired by react and runs on the concept of virtual DOM rendering. It is modern JavaScript framework, fully modular and can be used to the extent you need.

Looking at the underlying concepts, compact size, modular approach, performance and popularity, Mercury makes its place in list of best 10 JavaScript frameworks of modern times. 

You can know more about MercuryJS at


Phenomenon of JavaScript frameworks is not very old but has grown at a very fast pace in the last couple of years. JavaScript frameworks have become the default choice for creating complex user interfaces, specifically for Single Page Web Applications.

Different frameworks offer different concepts and methodology but attempt to solve the common underlying problem of rendering complex user interfaces dynamically and making single page applications much more useful and fast.

The frameworks mentioned in this article are among the best JavaScript Frameworks in the market as of today. Let us know your experience with frameworks and the framework of your choice via comments. 

About The Author: noeticsunil

Sunil is the founder and contributing editor at He writes about anything and everything that makes modern mobile apps, web apps and websites possible. Passionate about coding in any language including Python, Swift, JavaScript, PHP, Java, Android & iOS dev, not excluding CSS/HTML. 

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