With the help of contributions from the Godel experts and research from various sources, we have identified trends and provided a summary and examples of popular technologies in Frontend Software Engineering industry during 2021, 2022 and which of them have carried on so far into 2023.
How was the research conducted?
Because the FE-related area is quite big, the main idea is to split the research into several important significant parts:
- Frontend frameworks (React.js, jQuery) – browser-first frameworks only;
- Backend frameworks (Nest.js, Express);
- Browser/Server frameworks (Next.js, Nuxt.js, Gatsby);
Analysis will be provided separately for each identified group. The steps will be the same for all groups.
There was a strict trend of growing popularity of typed languages in Frontend Software Engineering. During the last several years TypeScript became a very popular JS-based language that was integrated into many different frameworks.
According to the last 2022 StackOverflow Survey, the popularity level of TypeScript is high. In comparison with the same Survey of 2021, it moved one place up from 7 to 5 with absolute growth 30.19% to 34.83%. Godel Experts think the reason for such a significant increase is in active integration between many frameworks with TypeScript, active community development of TypeScript libraries and the ability to support big strictly typed enterprise projects.
The satisfaction level of TypeScript is significantly bigger (more than 2 times – according to the JamStack Survey of 2022): Programming languages by usage and satisfaction.
Currently, the most popular and widely used framework is React.js (according to JamStack, NPM Trends, StackOverflow and others). React.js took over jQuery in previous years and is still growing (according to JamStack). Currently this framework is the most used frontend framework.
According to the StackOverflow Survey 2022, this framework has about 44% of all respondents. Node.js has the first place in rating but it can happen due to the reason that Node.js is the base for the majority of modern Backend frameworks.
React alternatives are: Angular, Vue.js, Svelte, Preact (according to Usage chart of State Of JS 2022)
All other tools have a less bigger ratio over time. We also noticed that several potential candidates took their place in the overall interest chart. They are Qwik, Solid, Lit and Alpine.js. They are not widely used but require additional attention. This is displayed in the chart below:
The Top 3 biggest and most popular frameworks (according to JamStack Survey 2022, NPM Trends and StackOverflow Survey 2022) are React.js, Angular and Vue.js.
Most of the respondents who support Angular are professional developers. That means that Angular is quite difficult for beginners to deep dive into. The difference is significant: Angular is at the 5th place for Professional Developers and 9th place for those who are learning to code. It’s still recommended for big enterprises.
Vue.js has almost the same position (6th and 7th place appropriately) in the same rankings. After migration to the more difficult idea after Vue 3 release, it became increasingly difficult for beginners to use. Godel Experts think its popularity will grow in the future.
React.js is the leader of this board. It’s still simple (according to JamStack surveys for 2021, 2022, StackOverflow Survey 2021, 2022). After no new features in the release 17.x, it brought several new ones in the last 18.x releases. According to the same Surveys, it fits requirements for small, medium and enterprise-size projects and will keep its first place in rankings.
A lot of modern JS-frameworks use Node.js as the platform to work on. Currently, there are several alternatives that have quite a big interest from the developer’s side. One of the most significant examples is Deno. It is actively growing but still 8.3 times less popular than the leader – Node.js runtime:
Because the majority of respondents use Node.js as the main runtime environment, almost all provided frameworks are for the given Runtime.
The chart with the most popular Backend frameworks according to the State Of JS Survey 2022 shows that the leader with more than 50% of answers from survey respondents is Express:
According to the Stack Overflow Surveys 2021 and 2022, there are no other frameworks in the charts apart from Express. It can be explained by the assumption that the majority of not very big projects use Express as the main Backend framework. We believe this is the reason why it has its position.
Stack Overflow trends show us that Nest.js appeared in the charts during the year 2022. It can be explained by growing popularity and quite a stable codebase, active maintenance and reliability.
The growing popularity that was shown by almost 2 times increase in downloads during 2022 can say about the potential of this technology in Backend development. At the same time, it’s not significant in comparison with the leader – Express.
Godel experts recommend paying attention to the Express now and also think about Nest.js as a potential alternative that can be used in a big project with professional and high-skilled developers because of the high threshold of entry
Next’s appearance in the Stack Overflow Survey 2022 shows a constantly growing popularity of rendering frameworks. The Survey has only one framework based on React due to its popularity.
This framework became almost 2 times more popular in absolute values according to the chart above. This framework can be recommended by Godel Experts to use at big enterprise applications and at small applications because of the very big community.
At the same time, not so many alternatives exist. They are not very popular in comparison with Next and have 4-5 times less of downloads according to NPM Trends source:
The low amount of Gatsby downloads can be explained by paid plans to fully use its functionality. It is recommended for enterprise applications.
Nuxt is the Vue server rendering framework that saw a significant and major update in Q4 2022. At the same time, the chart shows no activity from the community side. It means it’s not popular enough and not recommended for new projects right now by our Godel Experts.
As the potential alternative to the provided examples, SvelteKit is the rendering framework for Svelte-based applications. Its popularity is not high according to the StackOverflow Survey and JamStack Survey but was highlighted as very useful and interesting for people in the StateOfJS survey. It can be explained by the overall popularity of Svelte but for now we wouldn’t recommend using it on real projects.
This research project has shown which trends have carried over into 2023. It shows that the Frontend Software Development area contains a lot of different and quite stable leaders like JS and TS in languages, React.js in Frontend Development, Express in Backend Development and Next in Rendering frameworks.
Godel Experts think that their growing popularity displayed will help them to be the most significant frameworks/languages. Trends show that they will become even more popular if their development direction doesn’t change.
However, almost all groups have new potential alternatives. If a technology is stable and has constant interest over the years, if it’s still growing in popularity, then it should be marked as stable and important. Good examples of this are Nest.js in Backend Frameworks and Svelte in Frontend frameworks. But they still have not so many usage cases provided by respondents.
There is a place that constantly changes now – Frontend tools, because they are out of scope due to their limitations of use at real projects (usually they can’t be used without frameworks). Overall, the conclusion is that the Frontend Development area has become more stable and ordered. Almost all fields have their leaders with potential alternatives, most of them have big and stable communities. That is the reason why a new technology or framework should pass several stages to become a significant and popular thing.
Charts and diagrams illustrated by Aliaksandr Soryn, Head of Design at Godel
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