JavaScript
February 20

The Overview of JavaScript Frameworks: Which One to Choose for Your Project?

From Sandbox
Ten years ago, companies who wanted to create cross-platform projects would have to cooperate with different development teams and experts. However, 2009 has changed the game, because the developers from Nitobi (later purchased by Apache) presented Cordova – a fresh framework that was able to convert web applications into mobile systems. Linking the devices’ APIs via plugins, developers could access smartphones and tablets. Cordova is a JavaScript-based tech compatible with various platforms.

In this guide, we will review three more JS-driven systems, look at their unique features and compare them.

Mobile Apps: Types and Features


But let’s start with some basic stuff. For developers, there’s no secret that applications can be either native or hybrid. We want to briefly cover what these terms mean and how they differ.

Native apps are those created using a native language for a single specific platform (e.g. Kotlin – for Android; Objective C – for iOS). Developing native software products is costly as you have to design a whole new app for each platform separately. At the same time, these applications can help certain systems realize their full potential.

The second type is hybrid apps. As a rule, they are based on uniform languages and are compatible with different operating systems. They are cheaper to build as you can utilize a set of universal tools for all systems. However, users usually interact with hybrid applications via WebView or browsers. Thus, they are slower and also can’t provide the same user experience as native apps can, because they lack platform-specific features.

Since hybrid products often rely on JS frameworks, let’s check them and discover how they can help during development.

Ionic


It was launched in 2013 and designed for designing applications using simple tech like JS, HTML5, and CSS. Products created with Ionic work with mobile, desktop, and online platforms.

Note that this tool is focused on UI instead of back-end solutions. To develop products with Ionic, you still need additional tools like Cordova for wrapping the code. As for now, the set is integrated with Angular, while extensions for Vue and React are under development.

Programs powered by Ionic run in low-level browsers and make use of the device’s features like GPS or Camera. As an example of Ionic apps, we’d like to highlight the official MarketWatch product and the Turkish version of McDonald’s app.

NativeScript


The next open-source JS-powered framework was launched a bit later than Ionic. The authors created NativeScript in 2014 with the purpose of designing native apps through JavaScript or another uniform language like TypeScript. It also works with Angular and Vue. The end products are the same as ones created via native frameworks. In addition, developers can utilize third-party libraries without code wrapping tools at all.

To transform JS elements into ones understandable by the devices’ APIs, NativeScript uses bridges – runtimes for interactions between interfaces and the code. Technically, it’s possible thanks to JS Virtual Machines (e.g. V8 for Android and JavaScriptCore for iOS). Among products built with this framework, you should check apps for PUMA and Strudel.

React Native


It was launched in 2013, but went open-source in 2015. React Native is a well-known tool for launching native apps, according to the users of GitHub. Obviously, the system is based on the React library which focuses on designing UIs, but React Native also has a lot of widgets which help developers deliver native experience.

Basically, the system transforms your code into a set of native views for platforms. Let’s say, it converts initial text modules into UIView for iOS and into TextView for Android. Hence, we can get the layout close to the native one instead of launching applications in browser views.

React Native is widely popular and even Facebook developers use it (e.g. for creating fresh features like Wellness Check). As well, large companies such as Bloomberg, Tesla, and Vogue use this tool.

Comparison Table


It’s high time to compare the three described systems to reveal which one is the most suitable.

1. Usability and Performance


First and foremost, you should find the framework which meets your needs perfectly. It implies, the choice will largely depend on the industry you want to enter. Thus:

  • Ionic is wonderful for Progressive Web Apps and has the best reusability. Simply put, it stands for Write Once, Run Everywhere idea.
  • NativeScript handles more complicated applications with a focus on UX/UI, so it’s wonderful for creating mobile apps and other products.
  • React Native has the best performance and is perfect for speed-dependent apps. It has worse reusability and follows Learn Once, Write Everywhere idea.

2. Widgets


Pay attention to this point if you want to implement various extensions:

  • Ionic. A lot of applications and widgets including Google Maps.
  • NativeScript. Supports numerous extensions – there are almost 1000 of them.
  • React Native. Doesn’t have a separate marketplace, but works well with third-party apps.

3. Popularity


Without doubt, React Native is the winner when it comes to popularity. It has 1700+ contributors, while Ionic and NativeScript feature 272 and 119, respectively. The community of developers prefer using React Native for various tasks regardless of its poor reusability.

4. Difficulty


Here, everything depends on your tech background. Ionic will be simple for nearly everyone because it offers more understandable approach to coding. As well, there are lots of guides to read about this framework. NativeScript and React Native are pretty similar. If you know JavaScript, it’ll be easier to start with these tools.

Which Framework to Choose?


All in all, you should outline your exact requirements to select the best tool. Although these frameworks are focused on creating smartphone/tablet apps, they have different approaches and specifications. For instance, Ionic is simple and flexible but it can’t handle projects with advanced graphics requirements. React Native features really high performance but forces you to design a new UI for each platform. Finally, NativeScript is relatively fast but apps require much space on your device. Choose wisely!

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