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Frameworks for Developing Single Page Applications

Nowadays, single page applications have become very popular, considering their huge potential in building web and mobile applications. In fact, web application development is traversing along a new path with the introduction of this concept. A Single Page Application, or SPA, is a type of web application where navigation becomes possible without refreshing the page and codes like HTML, CSS, JS, etc. are brought in dynamically by loading the page only once. It provides an admirable user experience by being fast as well as responsive.

The Importance of frameworks for developing single page applications

For building single page applications, a powerful framework is mandatory. In fact, the frameworks used should be capable of dealing with the complex architecture involved in developing several web applications in order to make it interactive and rich. Though each framework is not used on a regular basis, it is ideal to have a basic knowledge of the existing frameworks used for developing single page applications. Some of these include AngularJS, ReactJS, Backbone, EmberJS, MeteorJS, PolymerJS, Aurelia, Vue, Mithril.js, Node.js, etc.

Here we will discuss some of the most popular frameworks for developing single page applications:

1. AngularJS
Angular is one of the open-source, front-end, JavaScript-based frameworks widely used in creating single page applications on the client side. It has been developed by Google and the popular users of AngularJS include Microsoft, Google, and PayPal. It is capable of transferring the entire content directly from the server to the browser, loading all the pages at the same time. Once they are loaded, the page does not reload if a link is clicked upon; instead, the sections within the page are updated instantly. AngularJS enables faster loading of pages as there is less load on the server. The two-way data binding feature saves the burden of writing numerous codes. Here, automatic integration of data between model and view components takes place. Further, AngularJS works on MVC architecture.

2. ReactJS
ReactJS is more of a library than a framework which is used for creating User Interface (UI) applications. Released in 2013, the growth of this JavaScript framework was real quick. It is one of the most preferred frameworks when a highly performing enterprise application is to be provided to the users. React is comparatively more flexible than AngularJS as the developers need to deal with stand-alone libraries, which enables a good response time. React is mostly used for the ‘View’ component in the MVC architecture in which the UI could be updated without going back to the server to obtain a new view. ReactJS is widely used for creating widget-based views and promotes one-way data binding combined with Flux Controls. Further, a page based on ReactJS includes a virtual DOM. Maintenance of ReactJS is quite easy, owing to its component-based architecture. Both the server and the client side can utilize ReactJS, which enables distribution of the load from the server to the client if required.

3. EmberJS
EmberJS is a highly opinionated, open-source framework which promotes greater flexibility. It follows a widget-based approach known by the name Ember components. The templates incorporated with Handlebars get updated automatically as the data changes, using minimal coding. The popular users of EmberJS include Microsoft, Netflix, LinkedIn, Live, Vine, etc. Apple Music, which is a desktop application also uses EmberJS. Furthermore, it has a powerful routing system. It works on the MVVM pattern and follows the Convention over Configuration (CoC) model. The data library offered by EmberJS is quite resourceful. Its friendly API makes many prefer EmberJS over other frameworks. It follows a two-way data binding pattern. It was named as “the best JavaScript framework” in 2015.

4. Backbone.js
Backbone.js is a JavaScript library which was first released in the year 2010. It is lightweight and flexible, especially for structured codes. It works on an MVP-based architecture. Backbone does the communication via events which prevents messing up with the application. It is a free, open-source library which offers around 100 extensions. Further, it helps to separate business as well as UI logic. There are various tools offered by Backbone.js like models, events, views, routers, etc. in order to integrate the client-side applications. Further, if there is any change in the model, the HTML code gets automatically updated. The client-side web applications and mobile applications could be created in a well-organized format using Backbone.js. Many customers including Sony Entertainment Network, Airbnb, SoundCloud, etc. use the services offered by Backbone.js.

5. Meteor.js
Meteor.js is a free, open-source, full-stack, JavaScript framework which is created using Node.js. It is fast in building reactive applications on Node.js platform. Meteor works on data on wire principle which implies that the data is sent by the server instead of HTML, rendering it to the client. With Meteor in action, different applications could be built in one language that is JavaScript, using lesser number of codes. Well-known companies like Mazda, Honeywell, Qualcomm, etc. make use of Meteor.js. It enables live-browser reloading as well. In other words, whenever some changes happen on the front-end, this framework reloads live pages by default. This enables the concerned DOM element to get refreshed without having to reload the whole page. Meteor.js is quite easy to set up while doing projects and promotes higher scalability as well.

Now that the popular frameworks for developing single page applications have been discussed in detail, let’s compare each of them.

Comparison of AngularJS, ReactJS, EmberJS, Backbone.js, and Meteor.js

Needless to say, it is very important to select the right JavaScript framework for building powerful single page applications. The field of web application development undergoes constant changes where new frameworks are added regularly and the existing ones are updated. Though it is a Herculean task to understand the differences between these, it is better to set your sails accordingly.

Let’s compare the frameworks listed above.

In general, it is wise to choose a framework for your project after analyzing it from different perspectives like size, maturity, features, dependencies, and interoperability.

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