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Backbone vs. Angular vs. Ember Javascript framework comparison

Monday, February 23rd, 2015 by Servage

javascript-frameworksThere are numerous Javascript frameworks available out there, and choosing the right one may have a great impact on your project workflows. It may even have significant impact on your project’s overall chance of success, as the framework will highly dictate the possibilities, functions and ways to work for certain parts of your system. Therefore choosing the right Javascript framework – or coding something on your own – is a decision that needs to be taken with care. The following information is supposed to help you getting an overview and understanding some more details about three very popular frameworks.

The following frameworks are all open source and have a lot in common. However, there are still some caveats and differences that may make one more suitable for your needs. Either way, they are also all three very good and reliable frameworks, and choosing any of them is likely going to be a great assistance to your development.

Backbone JS

File size: 7 kb (44 KB with dependencies jQuery and Underscore)

Backbone is a small and basic framework. It brings the most important elements to the table, but also leaves a lot open for yourself to decide and create. This makes Backbone an ideal starting point for your own larger framework, which has already been done by many adopters.

The drawback of Backbone actually lyes in its benefit: The small footprint and basic functionality lacks general structure, and you are therefore left with a lot of decisions and implementations of more functionality to make. This may be a disadvantage for some, and they should maybe consider looking for a more “fully loaded” framework like the ones below.

Angular

File size: 40 kb (no dependencies)

Angular has brought quite a few good things into the Javascript framework world, hereby specifically counting two-way-binding of parameters for templates and the promises-concept. Angular furthermore has the benefit of most adopters as trend analysis on the web reveal. Both total user adoption and the current trending shows a very large community for the use of Angular. Also some large corporations like Google have adopted it and support its development.

On the negative side, Angular is often criticized for complexity in the directives API, which is a cornerstone of the framework. It also uses the complex prototypal inheritance method, which is a new concept for many, and often found very hard to grasp. This makes Angular potentially having a very steep and slow learning curve – especially if you are new to Javascript or tend to struggle with complex methods and how they are working.

Ember

File size: 90 KB (137 KB with dependencies jQuery and Handlebars)

Ember is the new star among the Javascript frameworks, and it will be interesting to see if it can compete with Angular’s developer adoption in the long run. It provides similar functionality in a different way. Ember prefers convention over configuration, meaning that a lot of basic functionality will simply work right out of the box, and then you can configure or change your way to the desired results, if it differs from the default Ember-way of doing things. This is great for speedy development. Furthermore Ember’s own development has been highly focused on performance, and is providing good results in that aspect.

On the downside Ember has been built at a high pace with lots of changes to the documentation, due to many internal code changes in Ember’s own API. The result is lots of outdated content online, which may make the learning experience for developers a bit confusing. A lot of sample code simply does no longer work. Ember is also criticized for the use of Handlebars as the template engine, but that should change with an upcoming switch to HTML Bars.

Conclusion

It is hard to conclude what Javascript framework fits your needs the best, but let the following be a summary guide for you: Backbone is the lightweight starting point if you want to extend heavily with own framework functionality. Angular is the established and proven framework with a large community. Ember is the rising star with more convention and performance.

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Categories: Software & Webapps

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