12 Best JavaScript Frameworks and Libraries You Should Know About 2023

12 Best JavaScript Frameworks and Libraries You Should Know About 2023 _ MediaOne Singapore

JavaScript is like the heart of the modern web — it’s everywhere. And it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Languages will come and go, but JavaScript will always be around — all thanks to its dynamic, flexible, and engaging nature.
According to Stack Overflow’s survey, JavaScript is the most commonly used programming language, with 63.61% of developers using it.

Coursera ranks it as the world’s most popular programming language.

So, if you’re a web developer or aspiring to be one, it pays to know a little bit of JavaScript and, even more important, the best JavaScript frameworks and libraries to use in 2023 and their respective strength, capabilities, and use. 

What’s a JavaScript Framework? 

Simply put, a JavaScript framework is a collection of pre-written JavaScript code libraries that you can use to create your website or application much faster and more easily than if you wrote all the code yourself.

For instance, let’s say you want to build a basic application that displays data in a tabular format. With the help of frameworks and libraries, you don’t have to write all the code from scratch. Instead, you can just import the module that does what you want and tweak it to your liking. 

What’s a JavaScript Library? 

A JavaScript library is a collection of pre-written, reusable code with a single primary use case. Unlike frameworks, libraries do not provide overall structure or control flow for your application. Instead, they provide a single function or set of related functions to accomplish a specific task. 

A JavaScript library can have multiple methods, functions, and objects that you can use to accomplish a task.

Why a JavaScript Framework? 

It comes down to time and convenience. Instead of writing a complex piece of software from scratch in JavaScript, you can use a framework or library to do much of the heavy lifting for you. That way, your project is ready faster and with fewer bugs.

Plus, frameworks often provide useful features like data validation, security measures, and interaction with the database right off the bat. In other words, less time spent coding means more time available to focus on other parts of your project. 

It goes without mentioning the convenience of dealing with less code. Not only do frameworks save you time, but they also make your code more consistent and easily manageable.

Now that we got the basics out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the best JavaScript frameworks and libraries out there. 

#1. jQuery – one of the most popular JavaScript libraries

It is used for DOM manipulation, event handling, animations, and AJAX.

Built in 2006 by John Resig, jQuery is lightweight, cross-platform, and easy to learn. It’s open-source, feature-rich, and the most used JavaScript library in web development.

According to W3Techs, jQuery is used on 77.6% of all websites.

jQuery Features and Capabilities

  • An easy-to-use, minimalistic API
  • It’s lightweight, taking just 30kb to gzip and minify
  • It supports AMD (Asynchronous Module Definition) module
  • Its syntax is similar to CSS, making it easier to read and comprehend
  • It’s cross-platform and compatible with all major browsers 
  • It uses CSS3 selectors, making it easy to integrate with HTML and CSS
  • It’s open-source and well-documented. 
  • It can be extended with plugins, resulting in endless possibilities.

Its Shortcomings:

  • Requires understanding of CSS to be used effectively
  • It’s not a full-featured framework. 
  • It can be slow and inefficient for large projects. 
  • Debugging issues 
  • It has been criticized for having an outdated design.

jQuery Use Cases

  • Dom Manipulation with CSS3 selectors: making it easy to integrate with HTML and CSS
  • Event Handling: for Ajax, click events, mouseovers, etc. 
  • Animation: creating complex animations with ease
  • Creating plugins: for creating custom functionality. 
  • AJAX Requests: sending and receiving data without reloading the page.
  • JSON Parsing
  • Feature Detection
  • Control of asynchronous processing with Promise and Deferred objects. 

So, if you’re looking for a popular and versatile JavaScript library, jQuery is definitely worth checking out. It may not be as powerful or feature-rich as some of the other JavaScript libraries, but it makes up for that in its simplicity and ease of use.

#2. React (A Library, not a Framework)

React is a JavaScript library created by Facebook, and it’s quickly becoming one of the most popular libraries for web development. Released in 2013 (by Jordan Walke), React is an excellent library for front-end development. It’s easy to learn and use, making it ideal for beginners.

Initially released under the Apache License 2.0, React is now maintained by Facebook, with an MIT license. It’s open-source and completely free to use. 

React uses a virtual DOM and has a component-based architecture. It is also popular for its server-side rendering capabilities. 

React Features and Capabilities:

  • React code comprises Components or reusable pieces of code that render to a specific element in DOM (Document Object Model) with the help of React DOM Library. Meaning you can use the same component over and over again, with different properties.
  • React works on one-way data flow, which helps reduce a lot of boilerplate codes. 
  • React is highly optimized and can be used for complex projects with efficiency.
  • It features JSX, which provides a faster and easier way of writing React code.
  • It uses a virtual DOM instead of the real DOM, which creates an in-memory representation of the DOM. That helps to speed up Reacts performance when dealing with large datasets. 
  • It uses lifecycle methods like render and componentDidMount to allow developers to insert code at specific points in the app lifecycle. 
  • It supports JavaScript XML (JSX), HTML-like syntax developers use to write components.

React Use Cases:

  • It is the base for popular JavaScript frameworks like Gatsby and Next.js. 
  • It’s used by companies like Airbnb, Netflix, Twitter, and Facebook to develop their websites and apps.
  • React can be used to build one-page, mobile, single-page, multi-page, and progressive web applications. 
  • It’s used for developing user interfaces for games, virtual reality experiences, and augmented reality experiences.  
  • It can be used to build progressive web apps, combining web and mobile applications.

React is a great JavaScript library for building user interfaces and developing modern applications. It’s easy to learn, has powerful features, and is highly optimized for performance.

Why is React a Library and Not a Framework

The most important distinction between libraries like React and Frameworks like Angular or Vue is that React does not dictate the architecture of an application. It’s only concerned with rendering the UI but leaves the code that powers the UI up to the developer to put it all together.

#3. D3.JS (Data-Driven Documents)

D3.js is a powerful JavaScript library for manipulating documents based on data. Released in 2011, the library allows developers to create and control dynamic and interactive visualizations in the browser.

D3.js provides a wide range of tools for data visualization, including charts, graphs, maps, and force-directed diagrams. It also offers a low-level interface for manipulation of documents based on data. 

D3.JS Features and Capabilities

  • It emphasizes web standards, allowing developers to create interactive visualizations compatible with all modern browsers.
  • D3.js is excellent for creating dynamic and interactive data visualizations, such as complex data dashboards.
  • It is very powerful and can be used to create interactive web applications that provide an enhanced user experience.
  • It supports large datasets and can manipulate them quickly. 
  • It is relatively easy to learn, as it does not require any specialized knowledge of programming languages.
  • It’s also fast, efficient, and lightweight.
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D3.JS Use Cases

  • To Produce dynamic and interactive data visualization, like bar charts, line graphs, and heat maps
  • Binding data to a DOM and performing data-driven transformations like tweening and interpolations. For example, you can generate HTML tables from number arrays and create SVG elements from data sets.
  • Its functional code style makes it easy to customize and extend. 
  • Various modes for mutating nodes, like changing attributes or styles by taking a declarative approach, adding, sorting, and removing elements 
  • It’s an open-source library, which means it is constantly evolving and improving with the help of community contributions.
  • Create animated transitions, sequence complex transitions, perform CSS3 transitions, or morph SVG elements.

#4. Underscore.js

Underscore.js is a lightweight JavaScript library that provides many functional programming helpers for manipulating objects and collections. It also offers support for asynchronous functions such as promises, callbacks, and deferred objects. It supports functional programming concepts like mapping, filtering, reducing, and chaining. This library is relatively easy to learn and use.

Underscore.js Features and Capabilities:

  • It has features similar to those of Prototype.js (another JavaScript library) but with a functional programming design rather than an object-oriented one.
  • It has 100+ functions of four categories: Arrays, Functions, Objects, and Utilities.
  • It can search for specific elements in arrays faster than native JavaScript methods. 
  • It has built-in support for sorting, filtering, and mapping objects.
  • It allows you to extend existing objects with your own methods.
  • It supports asynchronous functions like promises, callbacks, and deferred objects. 
  • It can be easily integrated with other libraries like jQuery or React. 

Underscore.js Use Cases:

  • It supports functional helpers such as map, reduce, and filter, making it possible to work with large datasets. 
  • It can be used to create custom functions like merging or sorting objects.
  • It can be used to create custom events and sequences for complex transitions. 
  • It can be used to inject data into HTML pages without reloading the page. 
  • It can be used to perform calculations on objects and collections quickly and simply. 
  • It is useful for writing terse, elegant code without sacrificing readability. 
  • The library is lightweight and can be embedded into any project with ease.

#5. Anime.js

If you’re looking for an animation library with amazing features and capabilities, Anime.js is the way to go. It’s a lightweight JavaScript library with a wide range of animation effects and capabilities. It supports all modern browsers and is highly customizable, allowing you to create complex animations quickly and easily.

Released in 2019, Anime.js is one of the most popular animation libraries available. It supports 2D and 3D animations with a range of transitions, easing functions, and custom properties.

Anime.js Features and Capabilities: 

  • It supports all modern browsers and is lightweight, making it easy to embed into any project. 
  • It provides advanced timeline control with keyframes, sequencing, and synchronization. 
  • It supports a range of easing functions such as elastic, bounce, and linear. 
  • It runs with DOM attributes, CSS properties, CSS transforms, SVG, and JSS Objects. 
  • Its code is easy to decipher and use
  • Complex animation methods such as overlapping and staggering follow-through are made simple. 
  • It offers a range of animation effects, such as morphing, cross-fading, and looping. 

Anime JS Use Cases

  • Anime.js is a great library for creating beautiful animations quickly and easily. It can be used to animate elements on page load, transition between pages, create interactive games and stories, create complex custom animations with ease, and much more. 
  • It can create layered CSS transformations, with multiple objects being animated at the same time. It can be used to create interactive stories, virtual tours, and dynamic presentations. 
  • Play, pause, reverse, trigger, control events, and chain animation effects with Anime.js for a highly engaging user experience.

#6. Bideo.js

Bideo.js is a lightweight library for creating full-screen video backgrounds with ease. It supports multiple formats like MP4, WebM, OGG, and WMV. It can create responsive video backgrounds that scale to different devices and browsers.

Bideo.js Features and Benefits

  • It supports autoplay and looping. 
  • It can preload videos for faster loading times.
  • It can be used with HTML5 and Video.js libraries for full-screen videos. 
  • Customizable video settings such as playback speed and frame rate can be adjusted.
  • It supports multiple video formats. 

Bideo.js Use Cases

  • Bideo.js is often used for creating full-screen video backgrounds on websites. 
  • It can also be used for creating interactive video experiences, such as virtual tours or product demos.
  • Its flexibility makes it ideal for creating unique video experiences, such as animated videos with custom effects. 
  • It can be used to create dynamic visuals for presentations, games, and stories. 

Whether you want to create interactive experiences or add a video background to your website, Bideo.js is worth a look! It’s lightweight, easy to use, and provides plenty of features for creating engaging full-screen video backgrounds.

#7. Moment.js

Moment.js is a powerful, lightweight library for working with different time zones and calendar formats. It simplifies working with dates, times, and timestamps so you can focus on the task. It supports various formats, including ISO 8601 and RFC 2822.

You can streamline times and dates by validating, formatting, parsing, and manipulating times and dates. Moment.js also has features for converting timestamps into readable formats or strings, such as “3 days from now” or “2 hours ago”. You can also use the library to calculate time differences between two dates and times, express relative time, and more.

Moment.js Use Cases

  • The library is ideal for creating user-friendly calendars or event lists with dates and times. 
  • It can be used to make time conversions across different time zones, such as from UTC to local time. 
  • It can be used to convert timestamps into readable formats, such as “3 days from now” or “2 hours ago.” 
  • It supports many international languages, making it an ideal choice for global applications. 
  • It can be used to add a timer or countdown clock to your website or application. 
  • Object mutability enables you to manipulate dates, making it ideal for creating complex applications with many date-related elements.

The Top JavaScript Framework

A JavaScript Framework differs from a JavaScript library in that it provides developers with the structure they need to create applications and websites. It is a platform for developing full-stack web applications using JavaScript. 

The framework provides developers with the necessary boilerplates, components, and tools to create a feature-rich application or website quickly and efficiently. The most popular JavaScript frameworks and libraries are Angular, Vue.js, Node.js, Express.js, Bootstrap, and Electron.

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Each of these frameworks is unique in its own way and has certain advantages over the others.

#8. Angular

Google created Angular in 2010, and is the most popular JavaScript framework. It’s an open-source framework used to create dynamic, single-page applications (SPAs). It’s written in TypeScript and provides developers with high performance, scalability, and sophisticated features. 

It was created to simplify web application development and testing processes and works well with Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture. It also has great tools that make debugging and unit testing easier. 

Angular Features and Capabilities:

  • It supports 2-way data binding, dependency injection, and component-based architecture.
  • It uses directives to insert dynamic HTML into a static template.
  • It provides automated form validation and animation support. 
  • It’s quick and easy to declare static templates.
  • It has a comprehensive collection of tools such as CLI, code editor extensions, and performance monitoring tools. 
  • It has impressive extensibility features.
  • It supports server-side rendering (SSR). 
  • Overall, Angular is a great choice for complex web applications and hybrid mobile applications.

Angular Use Cases:

Angular is great for creating single-page applications (SPAs) and progressive web applications (PWAs). It’s also suitable for mobile application development. It’s popular for enterprise-level applications, and companies like Microsoft and PayPal use it.

#9. Vue.js

Vue.js is the new kid on the block, quickly becoming one of the most popular JavaScript frameworks. It was created by Evan You in 2014, and it’s a progressive framework for building user interfaces (UIs). It’s lightweight, fast-performing, and incredibly flexible, making it a great choice for MVPs and large web applications. 

Vue Features and Capabilities:

  • It uses Virtual DOM to reduce the cost of DOM operations.
  • It provides a powerful data binding system for efficiently updating the View layer. 
  • It supports component-based architecture and provides fast, reactive components.
  • It’s highly extensible, with support for plugins and third-party libraries.

Vue Use Cases:

  • Vue.js is great for creating lightweight applications and high-performance UIs. It’s suitable for MVPs and single-page applications, and companies like Adobe, GitLab, and Alibaba use it. It’s great for creating interactive user interfaces for modern web applications.

#10. Bootstrap

Bootstrap is a free, open-source CSS and JavaScript framework for creating responsive websites. It was created in 2011 by Mark Otto and Jacob Thornton, and it’s used by millions of developers worldwide. Bootstrap features an intuitive grid system, powerful components, and a vast library of predefined HTML and CSS templates for creating responsive websites. 

Bootstrap Features and Capabilities:

  • It includes a customizable grid system built on Flexbox.
  • It offers powerful components for making websites look great. 
  • It includes a library of predefined HTML and CSS templates.
  • It comes with open-source SVG icons that work with their components and can be styled using CSS.
  • It’s highly extensible, with support for plugins and third-party libraries.
  • It offers beautiful and premium themes for quickly styling websites.
  • It has powerful JS plugins for building complex features.

Bootstrap Use Cases:

  • Bootstrap is great for creating responsive websites quickly and efficiently. It’s suitable for small to large-scale websites, and companies like Twitter, Walmart, and LinkedIn use it. It’s also popular among startups for creating MVPs and landing pages. Its intuitive grid system makes it easy to create mobile-friendly websites with Bootstrap.
  • Bootstrap can be used to create CSS or HTML templates for buttons, typography, dropdowns, modals, tables, navigation, etc.
  • For creating image carousels, images, and icons

#11. Ember.js

Ember.js is a free, open-source JavaScript framework for creating ambitious web applications. It was created in 2011 by Yehuda Katz, and companies like Netflix, LinkedIn, Squarespace, and Apple Music use it. Ember is great for creating complex user interfaces with two-way data binding, and it offers powerful features like a routing system, an HTML Bars templating language, and Ember Data for managing models.

Ember Features and Capabilities: 

  • It has a built-in router for creating single-page applications. 
  • It offers two-way data binding for automatically synchronizing models and views.
  • It features an HTML Bars templating language for creating dynamic user interfaces.
  • It includes built-in support for managing models with Ember Data.
  • Scalable user interface components with Ember Components.
  • The battery-included perspective helps you find everything you need to develop your app immediately.
  • It features the Ember CLI for quickly generating apps and components.
  • It has an inbuilt development environment with quick rebuilds, autoloads, and test runners.
  • It has the best-in-class router for creating complex user flows. 
  • It offers an easy-to-use command line interface which makes development faster and easier.
  • It has official add-ons for adding additional features to your app.
  • It provides debugging tools like Ember Inspector and Ember Debugger.

Ember.js Use Cases:

  • Ember.js is great for creating ambitious applications with complex user interfaces. It’s used by Netflix and LinkedIn to create their web apps and by companies like Squarespace and Apple Music. Ember is also great for creating single-page applications with its built-in router and two-way data binding.

#12. Node.js

Node.js is an open-source, server-side JavaScript runtime environment built on Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine. It uses an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model, making it efficient and lightweight. 

Node.js is one of the most popular JavaScript frameworks used by companies like Uber, PayPal, Groupon, and LinkedIn.

Created in 2009, Node.js is used for developing fast and scalable network applications. It’s known for its scalability and high performance. Node.js supports a wide range of applications, from server-side scripting to web application development.

Node.js Features and Capabilities:

  • Faster code execution: Node.js has a powerful V8 JavaScript engine, making it faster than other frameworks.
  • Asynchronous programming: Node.js supports asynchronous programming, making it easier to develop fast and scalable network applications.
  • Single-Threaded Model: Node.js uses a single-thread model to handle multiple concurrent requests without creating additional threads.
  • Compatibility: Node.js is compatible with Windows, Linux, and macOS platforms.
  • Real-time Web Applications: Node.js is used to develop real-time web applications which require frequent data exchange and interaction between the client and the server.
  • No Buffering: Node.js applications don’t buffer video or audio data, significantly reducing processing time.
  • High Scalability: Node.js is highly scalable since it supports server-side web applications and microservices architecture.
  • Package Manager: Node.js comes with a package manager called NPM, making it easy to install and manage packages.
  • Database Integration: Node.js supports integration with databases like MongoDB, MySQL, and Redis.
  • Integration with other Frameworks: Node.js can be easily integrated with AngularJS, ReactJS, and Bootstrap.

Node.js Use Cases:

  • Real-time Chat Applications: Node.js is used to develop real-time chat applications.
  • IoT Applications: Node.js is used to develop fast and scalable IoT applications which can process large amounts of data in real time.
  • Collaborative Applications: Node.js develops applications like web-based document editors and project management tools.
  • API Development: Node.js is used to develop fast and scalable web APIs capable of handling large volumes of requests.
  • Single-Page Application: Node.js is used to develop single-page applications with fast loading times and reduced server load.

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


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