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Guide to Frontend Web Development Languages

Anna Sharland
Guide to Frontend Web Development Languages

If you’re looking to get into web development, or advance your skill set in the field, it can be hard to decide which programming language(s) to learn first. To help you make an informed decision, I’ve put together this guide to some of the most popular frontend web development languages, with an introduction to what each one does and why they might or might not be the best choice for you! But first, a little background...

JavaScript Framework Overview

JavaScript frameworks are used for creating interactive websites and applications. JavaScript is a powerful, dynamic programming language that runs on top of HTML5 and CSS3, which helps make it one of today’s most powerful front-end development tools. There are multiple types of JavaScript frameworks available depending on what you need. The three major categories include MVC (Model View Controller), Frameworks and Libraries. These different types have been popularized by developers across all industries including Google, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest who have created their own open source version to use internally or provide as an add-on in their companies/applications. MVC has been around since 1999 when Ruby on Rails was first released and quickly became popular among software engineers working with object oriented languages such as PHP or Java.

React JS

This library has quickly risen in popularity and is used by companies like Facebook, Instagram, Uber, Netflix and many more. If you're looking for an app solution or want to start developing a larger web application using front-end technologies then React is definitely worth checking out. It's been described as HTML for apps because it gives developers tools that let them build interactive UIs (user interfaces) for web and mobile apps. Best of all, it runs on both JavaScript engines and web browsers so there's no need to learn another language! If you already know JavaScript then React offers a simple way of creating reusable UI components that can be built once and easily reused in other projects.

Vue JS

Vue.js is an open-source progressive JavaScript framework that focuses on MVVM pattern. It provides reactive data binding, filtering, routing and asynchronous components out of box. Vue is suitable for building high-load apps but also works great in low load ones as well. However, if you need to solve complex state management issues or want a lightweight solution with simple API which is easy to learn and quick to develop, Vue might be your first choice.

Angular JS

Angular is a JavaScript framework that’s used to create Single Page Applications, commonly referred to as SPAs. By design, SPAs are supposed to work in tandem with a backend server-side language such as PHP or NodeJS. Angular is an MV* framework (Model-View-Whatever), meaning it follows a pattern for organizing code for presentation. The Whatever portion of that model is meant for whatever tool you want to use for data retrieval and manipulation.

Polymer JS

Polymer is a library that takes advantage of Shadow DOM in order to structure your code in small, reusable modules that you can attach and detach from each other. Because of Polymer’s use of Shadow DOM, it allows for increased performance and helps to prevent against memory leaks. The modularity also gives you flexibility when it comes to structuring your UI code.

Meteor JS

MeteorJS is a Javascript framework for building web and mobile applications. Meteor JS simplifies both front-end and back-end development. It is written in javascript, which allows it to be used with any operating system or programming language that can run a javascript interpreter, including all versions of Linux, Mac OS X, and Microsoft Windows. A disadvantage of Meteor JS is that you must use Blaze (the templating language) which limits what other tools you can use with Meteor js. An advantage over other frameworks are that Meteor JS comes fully loaded with data modeling libraries for MongoDB, as well as an easy interface for connecting other databases.

Knockout JS

So what is Knockout JS? KnockoutJS is a JavaScript library that makes it easier to work with observable arrays and data-binding. This means you can use declarative code and encapsulate a lot of complexity in your application into reusable and elegant components. However, it comes at a cost — lots of boilerplate code. While there are many ways to implement a binding or data access layer in an application, KnockoutJS tries its best to make it simple for you.

RequireJS/AMD Loader Scripts

RequireJS is a JavaScript library that you can use to load other JavaScript libraries. It works very similar to modules in that it requires things and exposes them as global variables. Instead of having one big script file, you can have smaller ones. This means faster loading and fewer HTTP requests being made. There’s one problem though: How do you tell RequireJS what code belongs in which file? That’s where AMD Loader scripts come into play.

DerbyJS – Pure Client Side MVC Framework (Similar To Backbone)

DerbyshireJS is a front-end framework for Node.js that provides client-side MVC. If you’re familiar with Backbone, it works in a similar way. This makes it a solid choice for small teams and front-end heavy projects (like Single Page Apps). The core of DerbyJS is its JavaScript library, but there are also versions available for Python, Ruby, and Java, if you’re using those languages in your stack.


There are two types of front-end developers; those who use CSS and HTML, and those who just use Bootstrap. Bootstrap is a toolkit created by Twitter that allows developers to create web apps with minimal effort. Bootstrap’s simple, consistent style means that once you learn how it works, you can apply it very quickly. While CSS and HTML are similar in that they both allow you to add color, images and text across your website, each have their own pros and cons when using them together. HTML works on its own whereas CSS needs something for it to hook into (like an element within an HTML document). If you don’t need any advanced functionality then HTML + CSS is enough.

Anna Sharland
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