12 JavaScript Trends That Will Dominate 2018

Why did we choose JavaScript as the topic of this article? First, JavaScript is nowadays really big in the software development world. It leads most of the programming language ratings and is extremely popular with developers all over the globe. JavaScript has formed a whole ecosystem with its rules and regulations, and we can rightfully say that it determines the general situation in the software development industry.

Second, JavaScript is especially well-suited for web development. You can build an entire technology stack with JavaScript tools and expect a top-quality result. Web development is one of our major lines of business, and we closely follow the top JavaScript trends to stay abreast of the latest innovations and updates in the vast variety of the JavaScript-based tools.

We have put together a list of the JavaScript trends to watch in 2018, as we believe that these tools, frameworks and integrations are going to influence the web development flows and processes. We decided to share our idea of the best JavaScript stack that can be used to build web applications.

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#1. React vs. Angular vs. Vue.js

Until recently, any discussion of JavaScript front-end development frameworks was inevitably reduced to a comparison of React to Angular. Both frameworks have a huge army of supporters and strong advantages. Both are backed by powerful technology giants – React was created by Facebook which, quite expectedly, uses it in its development. Angular is the platform of choice for Google which is also a strong pro argument.

However, recently, the selection of a front-end development framework has a third option – Vue.js. Vue was created by a former Google engineer and so far has not enjoyed as much support as the other two frameworks. However, it has already won the trust of many front-end developers for its lightweight structure, intuitive processes and easy learning curve.

If we are talking about the 2018 trends, it seems that all three frameworks will retain their popularity. Angular can win some points for its ready-to-use functionality, while React and Vue.js are more flexible and easily integrable with third-party libraries. 

Generally, for large and feature-heavy projects, Angular is still going to be the preferred option, while React and Vue.js show great performance in smaller applications. Though, both JS tools still cope well with high loads and complex internal app structures. 

#2. React Native

While we have mentioned React as one of the popular front-end frameworks, we must not forget another great platform that is gaining popularity with software developers. We are talking about React Native, a development solution for mobile applications.

All mobile development is mostly focused on creating applications compatible with iOS and Android devices. This is an absolute minimum that is required to reach the maximum user audience. Here, the development team can take one of the two paths:

  • Developing two separate apps for iOS and Android using the so-called native development approach;
  • Developing a single application that can run on both mobile platforms.

If you choose the second option, React Native is, probably, one of the best tools for this purpose. It is another brainchild of the Facebook team specifically designed as a very cost-effective and flexible solution for mobile app development.

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With React Native, you eliminate the need of knowing two programming languages (Swift or Objective-C for iOS and Java for Android). You only need to know JavaScript, and with JavaScript again rated as the most popular language in the developer community, you should have no problem with finding skilled professionals.

React Native has a huge community of more than 33,000 members. Thus, you can count on lots of ready-made reusable components that you can include in your project, reducing the overall time and cost required to complete it.

At the same time, native development, in general, shows better performance. Therefore, if you are planning a large, technology-heavy project using, for example, augmented or virtual reality, better go native.

#3. Node.js

We now move from front-end to back-end, and here Node.js is the definite favorite. The first environment to execute JavaScript on the server side, Node.js has quickly earned the love of developers for the ability to use JavaScript both on the front-end and the back-end. In the 2018 Stackoverflow Survey, almost 50% of the respondents named Node.js as the framework they work with:

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Image credit: Stack Overflow 

Node.js is appreciated for the great performance, speed and easy scalability of web applications. Thus, it is often chosen as part of the technology stack in the projects where these qualities are critical:

  • Content-heavy apps with large amounts of data to be processed
  • E-commerce apps where the speed of data processing is important
  • Real-time messaging

#4. GraphQL

In our analysis of JavaScript trends for 2018, we should not forget the API architecture tools, and here GraphQL is getting more and more attention.

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Before the appearance of GraphQL, an API architecture style usually meant REST which remained the most popular API protocol for over a decade. However, the need of a new approach grew because of REST’s over- or under-fetching of data. A REST request returns all properties of a resource, including those that are not needed right now. At the same time, for properties associated with a different resource you need to make a different request.

GraphQL effectively resolves this problem by returning exactly what has been requested. GraphQL can search several databases and resources to pull all requested properties and pack them in a single response. This feature reduces the network load tremendously and is a great advantage of GraphQL over REST.

At the same time, GraphQL is still a new query language that takes certain learning and preparation. However, for the sake of fairness, we should say that it is relatively easy to learn.

#5. Next.js

Next.js is a framework for server-side rendering of React applications. What’s so special about server-side rendering? It allows application content to be generated by the server. This way, a requested web page already includes all necessary content.

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Next.js is getting increasingly popular for its easiness of setup (in fact, it works right out-of-the-box, thus requiring almost no setup as such), great SEO opportunities (when you need search optimization across several engines, Next.js will do the trick), and improved application performance.

On the negative side, Next.js requires more server resources that can raise the project costs. Consider this while planning the technology stack and budgeting the resources.

#6. Storybook

This is another tool specifically designed for React applications. Storybook is an environment for developing UI components. It had its glory year in 2017 and remains popular in 2018.

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What is it about Storybook that makes it popular? Most of all, it is the possibility of creating and testing UI components outside the application. This way, application development and UI development can run in parallel without interfering with each other. You will particularly appreciate it if you need to create a screen that should represent more than one state.

With Storybook, app development can take less time and fewer man-hours, thus reducing the total project cost and shortening the time to market.

#7. Reason

Reason is another programming language that enjoys increasing popularity. We mention it in our overview of trends in JavaScript for its ability to compile to JavaScript by default. Reason actually creates an interface to OCaml, another programming language, thus taking advantage of both JavaScript and OCaml features.

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Reason is used by Facebook in its Messenger application. It applies a very simple syntax, thus creating rather straightforward development flows. Developers familiar with JavaScript will have no problem with learning Reason.

#8. Jest

No development is complete without testing, and we should definitely include a testing tool in our JavaScript overview. Jest is a testing framework that is designed specifically for applications built with JavaScript. It is a great tool for automated testing and shows truly fantastic performance for applications built with React.

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The reason for the growing popularity of Jest is its very effective performance. Jest allows tests to be run simultaneously, testing components in parallel. This reduces the overall time and costs required for the project.

Another advantage of Jest is its out-of-the-box functioning. According to Jest authors, they paid special attention to ensuring easy and intuitive setup to allow engineers to start testing immediately. Less time for setup – more time for tests – better product quality!

#9. Webpack

Webpack has been around for some time; however, it is becoming one of the most popular bundling tools. Web developers use Webpack to bundle JavaScript files so that they can be used in the browser.

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As web applications become more complex, Webpack advantages become even more pronounced. It can bundle all kinds of non-code assets, such as fonts, images or CSS. Besides, it bundles only the assets that are actually used in the application skipping those that are not needed.

Webpack works great with applications built with React, thus they are often used together. The extensive React community is the place where you can find peer support in any Webpack-related matters.

#10. TypeScript

TypeScript is a typed version of JavaScript. It has the convenient feature of supporting automatic code completion during core writing, which means you can write clean code much faster. 

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The strong typing feature allows variables to be checked during compilation, which makes it easier to detect errors at this earlier stage rather than during run-time. TypeScript easily compiles into pure JavaScript, producing a clean JavaScript code.

Many developers prefer coding in TypeScript because of its reliability and intuitiveness. In large projects with a lot of code, TypeScript can show its true value, reducing the time and effort required to create and debug the code.

#11. VS Code

Visual Studio Code is a source code editor that is, on one hand, written in JavaScript, and, on the other hand, supports the TypeScript coding with all the advantages of the latter, such as auto-completion and hints. It is being developed by the Microsoft team who are constantly working on improving the VS Code functionality.

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The code editor ships with quite a large package of default features, such as debugging or code navigation. In addition, it offers a wide choice of extensions that can be used specifically with JavaScript projects to optimize code creation in JavaScript.

Coding with the help of VS Code is so convenient that the Stackoverflow survey we referred to before named it the most popular development environment.

#12.  Progressive Web Applications (PWA)

PWA is a new trend in web development where websites are created to look and behave like mobile applications. When a PWA runs on a mobile device, it can be added to the home screen and then launched from there while, in fact, it will still be running in the browser.

The obvious advantages of PWAs are their responsiveness, allowing users to run the app on any device with any screen size, offline work due to the caching functionality, cross-platform use due to the fact that they are, actually, websites. Of course, one of the main advantages is a greatly improved user experience and convenient controls.

Why did we include PWAs in the list of JavaScript framework trends? The reason is simple – PWAs require no specific environment or platform, and they are often created with JavaScript tools, such as React and Node.js.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, the list of JavaScript tools and trends is rather extensive and includes components that can be used to build a full technology stack for web development. We believe that the creation and improvement of JavaScript tools will continue, as it is very likely to remain the favorite language of developers all around the world. Being a part of this huge community is very encouraging, as here you are sure to get proper support and advice as well as find reusable application components.

In our web development, we also give preference to JavaScript tools, believing that this vast ecosystem allows the most robust, efficient and secure applications of various types and sizes to be built.

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