Top 7 JavaScript trends to watch and apply in 2018

Daniil Kopilevych
Daniil Kopilevych
Marketing Manager
Apr 27, 2018 7 min read
Technology
Technology Apr 27, 2018 7 min read

For several years in a row, JavaScript has been holding the top rank in the rating of the most popular development technologies. Such popularity is not without reason, as JavaScript and JavaScript-based tools and frameworks have proved to be reliable, convenient and effective for web development.

“Any application that can be written in JavaScript, will eventually be written in JavaScript”

Atwood’s Law

However, the world does not stand still, and this is especially true for software development environments. In an attempt to make the development process faster, easier, more streamlined and efficient, the tools and platforms are constantly being enhanced, improved and integrated with each other to create complete development toolkits. That is especially evident in the JavaScript family where new tools or integrations appear quite often.

So, let’s look at the main JavaScript trends for 2018 and see what a startup or product company can use to put together a complete toolkit for creating robust and secure web and mobile applications.

1. Front-End Development Frameworks

Let’s start our analysis of JavaScript trends with a true clash of titans. Just like there are dog-lovers and cat-lovers, in the realm of front-end development there are adepts of React or Angular.

Both are powerful development frameworks, and both have true global heavyweights on their side.
Angular is used by Google which already speaks for itself. Besides, such resources as Forbes and Weather.com also opted for Angular as their front-end development platform.

React, on the other hand, is a brainchild of Facebook which makes it the natural choice for Facebook front-end developers. React’s fan club also includes Uber, Airbnb and PayPal who trusted it enough to use it for their front-end.

So, until recently, the matter of selecting the JavaScript framework for front-end development in many cases was the matter of Angular vs. React. However, recently the circle of popular JavaScript frameworks was expanded with the arrival of Vue.js, a new framework that was released in 2014 but has already managed to earn the trust of Expedia and GitLab.

The latest trends show that, although Angular still enjoys its usual popularity and community support, there is a growing interest to React which the developers named the most loved framework of 2017 (according to the Stack Overflow Survey 2017).

Most popular js frameworks - Top 7 JavaScript trends to watch and apply in 2018
Image credit: https://insights.stackoverflow.com/survey/2017#technology

If we briefly compare Angular vs. React vs. Vue.js, the first thing we should say is that out of the three, Angular is a complete, ready-to-use solution, while React and Vue.js are somewhat more flexible and can accept third-party libraries, if necessary. However, in this case, the developers should be rather careful, as it may be easy to build an ineffective architecture.

Both Angular and React are immediately equipped with an extensive set of build tools or boilerplates that take some getting used too. Vue.js, on the other hand, is very lightweight and intuitive, delivering pretty much what is expected of it. It is also very easy to learn, compared to React.

It seems that in 2018, all three frameworks will enjoy the same popularity, with React getting more supporters and Vue.js following closely.
Generally, Angular is the framework of choice for teams developing large, complex applications, while React and Vue.js are preferred by those who like flexibility in their working tools.

2. Back-End Development Framework

Of course, web development must include both front-end and back-end, so in our analysis of the main JavaScript trends, we will look at the back-end development tools, as well.

Here, Node.js is definitely the leader. The same Stack Overflow Survey we mentioned earlier names Node.js the most popular framework.

What is the reason for such popularity? Node.js can create easily scalable web applications which is an extremely important factor in today’s web app development. Another advantage is its outstanding performance and speed which makes it a great environment for the development of applications where performance is critical:

  • Applications using real-time messaging
  • Content-heavy applications with a lot of data to be processed
  • E-commerce applications that are very sensitive to the processing speed

If you are putting together a technology stack for your startup, you should definitely consider Node.js as one of your tools of choice. It is easy to learn and simple to deploy, and its performance is still outstanding.
Of course, Node.js has other 
benefits for startups that can help you launch yours smoother and faster.

It is very likely that Node.js keeps its ground in 2018, too, as it is constantly under development. Its huge community makes sure that it remains the most reliable, efficient and secure back-end development framework.
If you choose Node.js, you will be in the company of such global whales as 
LinkedIn, Uber, and eBay, and they cannot be wrong.

3. Cross-Platform Mobile App Development Framework

In our analysis of the JavaScript trends, we will also touch upon the tools of mobile application development. The world of mobile apps rests on two pillars – Android and iOS, so any application determined to achieve success should be available in both versions.

You can opt for native development creating two separate applications. Or, you can use React Native, another Facebook product, and make one application suitable for both mobile platforms.

React Native is getting quite popular with mobile application developers for its obvious business benefits:

  • Cost-effectiveness. Development of one application instead of two requires only one development team. Besides, native development means knowledge of two programming languages – Java for Android and Swift or Objective-C for iOS. If you develop with React Native, you only need to know JavaScript.
  • Shorter time-to-market. Developing, testing and deploying a single application takes less time than developing two different applications.
  • Availability of reusable components. At the moment, the React Native community amounts to as many as over 30 thousand members, so you are sure to find extensive peer support and a lot of components that you can use in your application.

React Native - Top 7 JavaScript trends to watch and apply in 2018

However, for fairness sake, we should also mention the aspects in which native development proves to be better than React Native:

  • Integration of APIs and third-party libraries. React Native does not support many APIs or third-party libraries, so certain integrations may prove somewhat difficult. Of course, you can embed them using native programming languages, but isn’t that what you wanted to avoid?
  • Performance. If you are planning a complex application with technologically-intensive components, such as, for example, AR/VR, use native development. You will get both easier implementation and more robust performance.

To sum it up, if your application is not going to be too complex, if you can use ready-made components and if you have a strong team of JavaScript developers – choose React Native.

4. API Architecture

If you need to create an API architecture, check GraphQL.
It has been one of the hottest
web development trends recently, and it seems to remain so in 2018.

Since 2000, the API realm has been dominated by REST APIs, until GraphQL came on stage in 2015. The need to create a new approach to API appeared due to data over-fetching or under-fetching that is characteristic to REST. In REST, if you make a request to a certain resource, you are going to receive all its properties, even those you do not need. On the contrary, if the property you need is contained in another resource, you should make another request.

That is where GraphQL truly shines.
With GraphQL, you will get exactly what you asked for, no more and no less. It searches multiple databases, too, so there is no need to send additional queries to get all resource properties you need.

As a result, GraphQL is much more lightweight than REST and, consequently, creates much less network load. This, in its turn, improves the application performance.

Top 7 JavaScript trends to watch and apply in 2018
Image credit: https://code.facebook.com/posts/1691455094417024/graphql-a-data-query-language/

Having mentioned the pros, we also should mention the cons of GraphQL:

  • Need to learn a new query language. Although easy to learn, GraphQL is still a new methodology of creating API architectures, so it takes some learning to start using it.
  • Lack of versioning. GraphQL supports no versioning, so the developers have to watch for deprecated features to update their applications

5. Application Rendering Framework

This new approach to application rendering is created specifically for applications built with React.
Next.js is a JavaScript-based framework rendering your app on the server side. This way, the application content is generated by the server. When you download a page, it already has all the content.

Why should you use Next.js? The main reason is that it works right out of the box making the process easy and requiring no complicated setup.
Another point is that your content becomes much better search-optimized, especially when you need to have SEO on several search engines – Google, Bing, Baidu, etc.

However, server-side rendering requires more server resources, so you should take that into account while planning your budget. Also, though in most cases server-side rendering improves the performance of the app, pages containing long lists of data may take even longer to load.

6. UI Development Environment

In this category, we will talk about Storybook. Again, this is a tool for React applications. If you use Storybook to develop your UI, you will be able to create and test the UI components outside the application proper.

How can Storybook be useful for application development?
It allows creating UI components without interfering with the UI development as such. Therefore, the total development will take less time which is especially noticeable in applications where a single screen has to represent several states.

With faster and less cost-consuming UI development, the application can be finished earlier, thus reducing the time-to-market.

Top 7 JavaScript trends to watch and apply in 2018
Image credit: https://storybook.js.org/

7. Testing Tools

Our technology stack would not have been complete without testing tools, as everything that is developed also needs to be tested to prove that it works as intended. Jest is one of the most popular frameworks for automated testing of applications built with JavaScript. Generally, you can use it with any JavaScript app, however, it is truly great with those created with React.

Why do we recommend Jest as your testing tool in 2018? First, it is very easy to set up. It practically works out of the box. Another advantage is that Jest runs its tests in parallel, thus increasing the overall performance. Besides, Jest can test only the changed files, so that the time needed to complete the testing is reduced.

Jest creators claim that they were so determined to make it work right out of the box, because with a ready-to-use tool testing engineers will write more tests and thus end up with a cleaner and better performing code. Seems quite logical, doesn’t it?

Conclusion

As you can see, you can put together a complete development toolset based on JavaScript. At the same time, in this article, we have barely scratched the surface, as the market of JavaScript tools is abundant and diverse.

As we said at the beginning of the article, JavaScript is the most popular programming language, and this means that the evolution of JavaScript tools will continue.
In 2018, we are going to see both new solutions and improvements of the existing ones with the ultimate purpose of making development easier and more reliable.
So, stay tuned for the news from the JavaScript universe!