State of JavaScript Survey Results Published, React Emerges as Clear Winner in Front-End Frameworks

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The results from Sacha Greif’s “State of JavaScript” survey were published today. Greif, who is co-author of Discover Meteor and the creator of Telescope, began his journey in modern JavaScript development a year ago with a beginner’s course in React but was overwhelmed with the many options for extending his knowledge into other frameworks. He launched the 89-question State of JavaScript survey to get a better picture of ecosystem and was surprised to receive more than 9,300 responses.

Instead of analyzing all the results himself, Greif enlisted the help of experts for each topic to give the results a more informed, well-rounded presentation. The survey covers front-end, full-stack, mobile and testing frameworks, build tools, developer profiles, and much more.

React won out in terms of developer satisfaction for front-end frameworks at 92%, closely followed by Vue.js (89%). Redux is the most popular tool for state management by a wide margin.

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In breaking down API layers, REST APIs dominate the landscape with 79% of developers who have used them before being willing to use them again. Firebase comes in much further behind at 18%, followed by GraphQL at 5%.

Greif’s questions regarding build tools show that Webpack and Gulp are used roughly twice as much as Grunt and Browserify. Grunt, however, has a high dissatisfaction rate with 42% of those who have used it before indicating they would not use it again.

The State of JavaScript survey results are packed full of insights for those who are currently working in the industry or looking to begin their JavaScript education. Conclusions from the opinions section of the results are not surprising: a majority of developers think building JavaScript apps is overly complex right now and the ecosystem is changing too fast.

“If one thing has become clear to me, it’s that the growing pains that JavaScript is going through right now are only the beginning,” Greif said. “While React has barely emerged as the victor of the Front-End Wars of 2015, some developers are already decrying React for not being functional enough, and embracing Elm or ClojureScript instead.”

As the WordPress development community moves towards incorporating more JavaScript and API-driven interfaces into projects, React has so far been the framework of choice. It powers some of the most visible applications and plugin interfaces, including Calypso (WordPress.com’s publishing interface) and the Jetpack admin.

Greif plans on offering the survey again next year, which may reveal major changes in the most used technologies, given how fast the JavaScript ecosystem is changing. Sign up to be notified when he opens it again in 2017.

13 Comments


  1. And Backbone is what WP core advocates sort of *sigh*. I’d like to see Vue become the defacto WP JS framework on frontend and backend. React is a bit too steep in learning curve I think.

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  2. Graphs where you have to use a colorpicker to figure out the legends are always fun..

    #lookmomimadesigner

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  3. so backbone which is the backbone of many complex JS in wordpress is in “used it once, never want to use it again” category, or in my case “tried to use it once, and afraid I will have to use it again”.

    JS in wordpress stand against everything which wordpress stands for, it is simply not hackable, not by a novice and not even by the experts.

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    1. You are not alone. Backbone and underscore templates is crap compared to almost all other tools. I’d like to see Vue 2.0 be the defacto standard in WP.

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  4. Is it just me or does each bar on that graph have its own secret y-axis scale?

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  5. I’m pretty much a JS novice and learned quite a bit about Backbone in less than a week. I’ve tried React and Angular. Neither stuck. However, I’m sure I could’ve learned enough to use either for the project I was working on. I could probably say the same about other JS frameworks.

    I rolled with Backbone because it was in core WP and things like media views already relied on it.

    In the WP community, we need more documentation on the JS included in core. The PHP in WP has always been well-documented, both in the code and on the Web. The same cannot be said for the JS (though inline docs are improved today).

    What we seem to be missing, regardless of the JS framework used, is WP folks who are teaching others how to build with JS.

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    1. What we seem to be missing, regardless of the JS framework used, is WP folks who are teaching others how to build with JS

      Agree. I would like to learn how to build with JS, but don’t know where to start with.

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    2. Better to switch to Vue than force Underscore and Backbone down peoples throats. Sticking to that is equivlence of sticking with PHP4.

      What we seem to be missing, regardless of the JS framework used, is WP folks who are teaching others how to build with JS.

      There is nothing specific about JS for WP. I made a plugin that reproduces basic WP media library functionality with Vue and WP API in just few hours.

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      1. I’ve been meaning to check out Vue. I need a project though to really try it out.

        Media views and the customizer both are good examples of WP-specific JS. We need more tutorials on them. Even without those things, it’s not about JS specific to WP. It’s about teaching things in a relatable manner.

        There’s tons of JS resources (probably one of the, if not the, most documented languages out there). However, it needs a WordPress spin. Like, “how to do X with Backbone.js/Vue.js/Etc. in WordPress”.

        It takes someone who is not just a good programmer but also a good teacher and writer. I know plenty of folks who can do the code, but they can’t teach it in a way that other WP developers can relate to. You’ve got to get developers from “cool, but I don’t know what I’ll do with that” to “oh, I totally need to try this in a WP plugin”. Sometimes, jumping from one point to another is not automatic. Developers need that light-bulb moment where it all makes sense.

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      2. The problem is not with “how to do X”, the problem with all JS frameworks is with “WTF X is not working” moments. In wordpress media you have backbone over underscore over jquery. This is three times removed from what the browser actually does and what the browser debuging tools provide. The need to learn totally different concepts to understand how backbone and underscore actually work make the media library impossible to hack. As a contrast, the customizer code is ugly, but because it do not have the additional abstraction layers it is at least possible to follow and debug it.

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      3. I currently mostly use Underscore templates and jQuery to handle frontend and backend things in WP since distributing Vue with my plugins seems like a really stupid idea. I have tried to work with Backbone but I would rather not ever touch that ever again.

        The thing is there really shouldn’t be anything special about working with PHP, JS, layouts etc in WP compared to other setups. WP keeps reinventing things or stick to old stuff far to long.

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