Top Tools for JavaScript Development

Updated: Jun 10, 2019

JavaScript is one of the most widely used scripting languages by the developers worldwide. JavaScript came into popularity list due to its powerfulness, resourceful, and intuitive, when we require our website to be a little different.

Choosing a development tool based on its popularity isn’t a bad idea. Popular tools are usually more stable, and they often have more resources and community support than less popular tools.


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Developer Satisfaction is another key indicator of a good tool.

The true beauty of JavaScript is not the language itself, but the ecosystem of thousands of tools and libraries developed by resourceful developers around the world.

The main  categories for a modern JavaScript developer includes the most popular tools for each category according to developer popularity and user satisfaction.


Language flavor


The ECMAScript specification is a standardized specification of a scripting language developed by Brendan Eich of Netscape; initially it was named Mocha, later LiveScript, and finally JavaScript. It was created to standardize JavaScript, so as to foster multiple independent implementations. JavaScript has remained the best-known implementation of ECMAScript since the standard was first published, with other well-known


Front-end frameworks

React vs Angular

Angular and React are among the most popular JavaScript frameworks for front-end developers. Moreover, these two – together with Node.js – made it to the top three frameworks used by all software engineers on all programming languages, according to StackOverflow Developer Survey 2018.

Both of these front-end frameworks are close to equal in popularity, have similar architectures, and are based on JavaScript.

Let’s put them face to face for more comparison points that might be of interest to some developers.


Technology type:

Angular: Component-Based Framework using Typescript

React: User Interface Library with a component-based architecture using Javascript


Data binding

Angular: 2-way data binding

React: 1-way data binding


Size

Angular: Quite large and since it needs to be shipped to the client side, it increases the initial load time

React: Quite small in size, especially when compared with Angular


Learning Curve

Angular: Quite steep, given the number of features and options you have in Angular

React: It’s easy to pick up and learn


Performance

Angular: Comparable to React, Angular 2 and 4 are some

React: Faster than Angular thanks to the Virtual DOM


Simplicity

Angular: Quite complex

React: Fairly simple but takes some time to set up a project and configure everything


Scalability

Angular: Easy to scale thanks to the power CLI and generation tools, It’s also used by many large companies.

React: Fairly easy to scale and is quite testable which facilitates the scaling procedure


Task runners

Gulp Vs. Grunt

How To Choose

I don’t think there’s any question about the fact that both Grunt and Gulp are great tools and have helped people save countless hours of time over the years. Grunt is a bit slower for now, but has a much bigger community. Gulp is faster, has a cleaner API, but is lacking the user base.

I think that the decision will ultimately come down to continuity, available plugins and preference.

(1) If you’ve been using Grunt/Gulp for a while now and you’re happy with it, there’s no reason to switch.

(2) If your project requires plugins which are not provided by Gulp and you’re not prepared to write one yourself, you will need to go with Grunt.

(3) If the above two considerations do not apply to you it will come down to preference. I suggest trying out both and seeing which one sticks with you.

As I said, I chose to use Gulp because I like its cleaner API better but I am perfectly comfortable using Grunt if a project calls for it. What you should not do is read that Mr. Know-it-all said that Gulp is better and accept it. While there are differences, there is no clear winner and both projects can, and will, coexist. Try them out and make up your own mind.


Package managers

npm vs. Yarn

2016 was the year that Yarn emerged onto the scene as a new alternative client for the Node.js package registry. npm remains the default package manager for Node.js, but extreme growth is expected for Yarn. It seems to be on track to be the preferred client to the Node.js registry due to its performance, which is several times better than that of npm.

For now though, npm remains the de facto package manager for JavaScript, although it’s not the only game in town. Ryan Lewis, a Node.js committer, recently presented on the future of Node.js at the All Things Open conference. During the event, several developers asked whether the Node.js Foundation might make Yarn the new standard interface for the Node.js package registry.

His answer:  "Probably no,” since the foundation doesn’t want to do anything that might fragment the ecosystem. So while Yarn was talked down in a recent foundation meeting, the members did express interest in its performance gains. Lewis says a more likely outcome is that npm will begin incorporating Yarn’s features and remain the default path to the Node.js package registry.


Testing frameworks

Mocha Vs. Jasmine

Almost half of developers don’t use testing in JavaScript, according to the State of Front-End Tooling 2016 survey. The State of JavaScript 2016 survey has similar conclusions, showing that many developers aren’t satisfied with the state of JavaScript testing.  However, interest and satisfaction with Mocha and Jasmine are growing, and Mocha only has a slight edge on Jasmine. Also, new JS testing frameworks such as Enzyme and Tape show promise for helping to build a more vibrant JS testing ecosystem.


Mobile frameworks

Native apps Vs. Apache Cordova

While native apps still provide the most performant experience on mobile devices, some members of the JavaScript community believe that the emergence of Progressive Web Applications (PWAs) spells doom for native apps and the frameworks like Cordova that enable web-native mobile apps. Maximiliano Firtman, author of High Performance Mobile Web, says PWAs will mean “the beginning of the end for most WebView-based apps, such as Apache Cordova and PhoneGap apps.”

So while these are the frontrunners for JS mobile frameworks for the moment, expect React and AngularJS to be here next year, when they will likely be the tools of choice for PWAs.


Editor

Sublime Text Vs. Atom

JavaScript developers don’t usually prefer a sophisticated IDE, as most Java and .NET developers do; lightweight text editors with a plugin system and syntax highlighting are all that most JS developers want. These are essentially the main features that Sublime Text and Atom have.


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