5 Things to Look For in a Front-end Framework and The Top 10 to Choose From

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June 13, 2024 at 2:37PM UTC
Here's everything you need to know about the top 10 best front-end frameworks for 2019.
But first, what are the front end frameworks? 
"A framework is a standardized set of concepts, practices and criteria for dealing with a common type of problem, which can be used as a reference to help us approach and resolve new problems of a similar nature," according to awwwards. "In the world of web design, to give a more straightforward definition, a framework is defined as a package made up of a structure of files and folders of standardized code (HTML, CSS, JS documents etc.), which can be used to support the development of websites, as a basis to start building a site. Most websites share a very similar (not to say identical) structure. The aim of frameworks is to provide a common structure so that developers don’t have to redo it from scratch and can reuse the code provided. In this way, frameworks allow us to cut out much of the work and save a lot of time."
Essentially, the aim of frameworks is to have a common structure for developers so that they don’t have to redo their work from scratch and can, instead, reuse the code that is already provided.
"There are basically two types to differentiate: backend and frontend (this distinction is drawn depending on whether the framework is for the presentation layer or the application/ logical layer)," according to awwwards. "It’s important to understand that frameworks are a conceptual notion: a pre-prepared standard kit from which to work. The concept of a framework can be applied to different processes carried out on the web: the programmer’s layer, which connects the database to the site content and uses PHP language, and the designer’s layer, where that content must be presented in HTML documents with defined CSS style sheets so it can ultimately be viewed in a browser."

5 things to look for in a front-end framework

There are five things you should look out for in a front-end framework, as front-end frameworks typically consist of a package made up of a structure of files and folders of standardized code (like HTML, CSS, etc.).

1. CSS source code for creating a grid

The CSS source code allows developers to simply position various elements that make up a site sign.

2. Typography style definitions.

Typography style definitions for HTML elements allow developers to know what typography they're working with.

3. Solutions for cases of browser incompatibility.

This is important so that the developer can make sure that the site displays correctly in all browsers.

4. Standard CSS classes

The creation of standard CSS classes can be used to style advanced components of user interfaces across different sites on which developers work.

5. Pre-built site components (i.e. side panels, buttons and navigation bars)

These help developers so that they don't have to constantly recreate this work and can instead focus on more advanced sections of the site.

What are the top 10 front-end frameworks?

1. Bootstrap

Bootstrap is one of the most popular front-end frameworks out there, and it has tons of stars on Github with plenty of resources to answer any questions you might have. Its description: “Sleek, intuitive, and powerful front-end framework for faster and easier web development.”
  • It's one of the most popular platforms, so it's been tried and true.
  • It's been around since 2011.
  • There are many third-party plugins available.
  • Unique components include Jumbotron and Card.
  • There's easy customization with Sass.
  • There is no icon set.
  • There's no online customizer.

Notes on Bootstrap

The main strength of Bootstrap is its huge popularity. Technically, it’s not necessarily better than the others in the list, but it offers many more resources (articles and tutorials, third-party plugins and extensions, theme builders, and so on) than the other four front-end frameworks combined. In short, Bootstrap is everywhere. And this is the main reason people continue to choose it.
If you’d like to learn more about Bootstrap, check out Your First Week With Bootstrap, Bootstrap: Related Tools & Skills, and 8 Practical Bootstrap Projects.

2. Semantic UI

Semantic is another concise and intuitive front-end framework for developers. Its description: "A UI component framework based around useful principles from natural language."
  • It utilizes natural language principles, so it's readable and understandable.
  • It's been around since 2013.
  • It has tens of thousands of stars on GitHub at the time of writing this.
  • Unique components include Divider, Flag, Rail, Reveal, Step, Advertisement, Card, Feed, Item, Statistic, Dimmer, Rating and Shape.
  • There are only some basic starter templates offered.
  • Only manual customization is offered.

3. Foundation

Foundation offers a ton of customizability for developers, so it's great for experienced professionals who want to cover the basics but still have creative authority. ZURB backs it, so it's reputable, as well.
  • It's backed by ZURB.
  • It's been around since 2011
  • It has tens of thousands of stars on GitHub at the time of writing this.
  • Unique components include Icon Bar, Clearing Lightbox, Flex Video, Keystrokes, Joyride, Pricing Tables
  • There's only a basic GUI customizer.

4. UI Kit

UIkit is not as popular as its competitors, but it does boast high quality for developers interested in iOS apps, in particular.
  • It's great for iOS apps.
  • It has a basic style that's easy to develop.

  • It's not as widely used.

5. Stylus

Stylus has an expressive CSS language, though this front-end framework can only be used on Node.js applications, which narrows its scope.
  • It features a stylish CSS language.

  • It can only be used on Node.js applications.

6. React

React is a game-changer in front-end frameworks, created by Facebook software engineer, Jordan Walke.
React is characterized by the following number of pros and just a few cons:
  • Virtual DOM improves both the experience of the user and work of the developer by helping to update users' changes without the other parts’ interference. It does this by applying isolated components.
  • React deals with isolated components, so developers can reuse them anytime they need, and so system upgrades will not impact or change the system.
  • Direct work with each component demands one-direction data flow, which stabilizes the code.
  • All updates are released to the community with an open-source library.
  • There's a lack of documentation because of the high pace development.

7. Vue.js 

Vue.js is for building users' interfaces, created by Evan You and initially released in February 2014. 
  • It's easy to learn and integrate.
  • It can be applied to both represented components and complete, single-page applications.
  • It boasts a component file layout and logical structure.
  • It's extremely flexible, and it can be integrated with several libraries and applied for bigger projects.
  • Too much flexibility can lead to code irregularities.

8. Pure by Yahoo

Pure by Yahoo is a lightweight framework written in pure CSS. It includes components that developers can use together or separately. Its description:  "A set of small, responsive CSS modules that you can use in every web project."
  • It was created by Yahoo, so it's been tried and true.
  • It's been around since 2013.
  • It has tens of thousands of stars on GitHub at the time of writing this.
  • It boasts a component file layout and logical structure.
  • It's extremely flexible, and it can be integrated with several libraries and applied for bigger projects.
  • There are no unique components.
  • There is no icon set.

9. Ember.js 

Ember.js is a great front-end framework for developers that also provides several external tools to help them along.
  • It's easy to use and build with.
  • It's full of useful tools to add to the toolkit of an Ember app developer.
  • The Ember Inspector makes for easy inspection of Ember objects in the browser’s developer tools.
  • Developers must be willing to follow Ember's structure.

10. Angular

Angular first came around in 2010 and quickly became one of the most popular JavaScript MVC frameworks out there, offering two-way data binding, dependency injection and more.
  • Developers can create with single parts and reuse these components in the app.
  • The coding process is easier for many developers because TypeScript is the core language.
  • Angular Material streamlines Material Design interface engineering.
  • Some developers may find it difficult to manage the components.
  • There's a learning curve with Angular that isn't necessarily present with competitors.

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