Software

Why Is React.js By Far The Most Used Front-end Web Development Technology?

There are quite a number of frontend JavaScript libraries and frameworks that software developers see as technically sound and happily work with across different projects. The 2021 State of JavaScript survey published in early 2022 lists 10 frontend frameworks and libraries used by a significant number of developers:

  • React.js
  • Angular
  • Vue.js
  • Svelte
  • Preact
  • Ember
  • Lit
  • Alpine.js
  • Solid
  • Stimulus

But despite the choice and fact that most of the alternatives listed can be applied to most frontend JavaScript projects, the React.js library is by some distance the most used of all 10.

The State of JS report 2021 canvassed over 16,000 JavaScript developers hailing from every corner of the world and of those who used frontend frameworks and libraries, 80% had worked with React over the past 12 months. 

The next most used were the Angular and Vue.js frameworks. However, with 53% and 51% of JS developers having used them in the past year, the gap in usage compared to React is vast. 

Every popular framework and library, especially React, Angular, and Vue, is widely accepted as an excellent development technology. Google created the TypeScript-base Angular. Vue.js was developed by Evan You who worked for Google and was a key part of the AngularJS team. He aimed to take the bits of Angular he liked best to build an even better, lighter, and more intuitive framework and Vue is now almost as used as Angular despite lacking the backing of a tech giant. 

Svelte and Preact are relatively new options for frontend JS development but have been quickly rising in usage over the past few years. Both have succeeded in making the transition to commercial usage, which is generally a strong indicator an open-source technology is maturing and users are confident it is relatively future-proofed.

But no JavaScript library comes even close to React when it comes to its level of usage in web development projects. And it’s popular with developers too, with 84% of the 80% of frontend specialists who had used the library in the past year showing high levels of satisfaction.

Why Is React.js So Popular That It Now Genuinely Dominates The Commercial Web Development Market?

Let’s look at several of the most often cited reasons:

  • Efficiency – easy to read, understand and implement

The best technologies have much in common with the best art – they simplify the complex. If React has one quality that has been most influential in its rise to dominance, it is that it is simpler to read and easier to use than most other JS libraries or frameworks. And crucially, React achieves that without being highly opinionated. React developers have more flexibility to precisely customize what they build compared to their closest rivals Angular and Vue. There are contexts in which a framework being more opinionated can be an advantage, such as large apps that prioritize consistency. But React’s combination of flexibility and accessibility has proven to be a winning one. 

  • Easy to maintain 

Reusable components are another quality of React.js that has encouraged its mass commercial adoption. Being able to use code elements as many times as appropriate across a project, or even between projects, makes it easier to both build and maintain applications. 

Components can also be combined into larger modules called wrapper components. As a project scales, being able to update components used across a project by updating just one and then replicating it across all other examples can save a lot of development time. That is highly cost-effective and unsurprisingly appeals to commercial users. 

  • Dynamic, flexible, and robust

The React library offers a huge and constantly growing resource of customizable components that allow developers to do almost anything in the context of dynamic application frontends. And it does so without compromising the reliability and performance of the supporting infrastructure beyond the front end. 

  • Easy to test

In React, views can be treated as functions of a particular state which allows developers and QA engineers to work together to manipulate states in React View. As a result, the output of React code and all its events, functions, and actions are easy to manage, as is identifying anything that isn’t working as it should. 

  • Closely aligned with React Native

React Native is a sister library for mobile development. Not only is React Native considered a very good mobile library indeed, it is also very closely aligned to React.js, making it relatively easy for React developers to learn React Native. This is attractive for developers, as it makes them more flexible and valuable. 

And it is attractive for the organizations who employ developers as the same specialists can often work across both web and mobile application projects. Much of the same code base can also be replicated across the web and native apps. 

  • Continues to improve

Thanks to the support and continued development from Meta Labs (previously Facebook), which created React, and a large, active open source community, the React library continues to evolve and improve all the time. As good as it is now, React will only keep getting better over time as the library is added to and optimized. 

  • A large pool of React developers

For businesses and other organizations, it is strategically important to build applications with mainstream, mature open source technologies that benefit from a large pool of developers with expertise and experience in them. It means they can be confident they will be able to hire React developers as needed and that costs will remain manageable.

Conclusion

If a company needs to hire developers with a rare tech stack it is often both difficult and expensive to find the right specialists. React’s relatively low barrier to entry, and commercial popularity should guarantee a deep pool of developers to hire from for the foreseeable future. 

React is popular as a result of, but not only, all of the qualities listed here. Its technical strength, efficiency and simplicity make it popular with developers and project sponsors alike. That’s created a virtuous circle that encourages large numbers of developers to learn or specialize in React and means good React developers always have plenty of professional opportunities.

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