Mobile applications have become an integral part of our lives today. You use your smartphone to book a ride, flight, or appointment, connect with friends and family, and much more. This is why we say we’re living in the digital era. One comes across many front-end development frameworks today, which is evidence of the increasingly competitive nature of the IT industry. Companies with mobile or web applications and those looking to build one for themselves need a comprehensive understanding of the app development industry.
Building a viable mobile application without understanding the latest technologies, frameworks, and trends in the app development sector is impossible. This article explains what mobile application development frameworks are, the trends in front-end development, and the top 10 front-end frameworks today.
A Word on Mobile App Development Frameworks
As stated earlier, mobile applications have become essential drivers of business growth due to the rise of digital technologies. All businesses, except for maybe the small-time retailers at the corner of your street, need mobile applications to enable improved business outcomes.
Building an app is not rocket science, yet it requires meticulous planning if you want to have a good one. It would be best to ascertain what your customers want, your unique offerings, and how you can use an app to deliver better customer experiences.
Mobile app development frameworks are software frameworks designed to facilitate mobile application development. It is a library offering tools like programming interfaces, debugging tools, compilers, etc. In other words, it’s a complete structure of capabilities that enables application development for a given platform or environment.
Top Front-end Development Trends
1. Micro Front-end Architecture
Micro front-end architecture refers to extending the concept of microservices to front-end development. It enables you to build a feature-rich single-page application that sits atop the microservices architecture.
Microservices architecture is a variant of the SOA structural style. It enables you to build an application as a set of fine-grained, loosely coupled services that communicate via lightweight protocols.
In a micro front-end architecture-based application, an application is perceived as a set of features, each of which is owned and managed by separate, independent teams. Thus, it requires a cross-functional team composed of different skill sets and responsibilities. The goal is to avoid having a front-end monolith, which becomes increasingly difficult to manage over time.
Thus, this architectural approach to app development lets you decouple a full-scale application into manageable micro apps. Its benefits include reduced deployment issues, quicker app development, and greater versatility in framework preferences.
2. Component-Driven Development
Component Driven Development (CCD) is closely linked to the concept of microservices. It is based on the concept of structuring an app around components or modules. The idea is that each component of the application serves a specific purpose within its design.
Thus, you can manage the component separately or even remove it entirely without causing any hiccups in the production environment. It offers you scalability, improved development speed, and standardization for web app development.
It uses an API to generate content instead of implementing a back-end solution. JAMStack is used to build static web pages and can be used with any framework. It offers you improved flexibility, performance, scalability, and maintenance.
Top 10 Front-end Development Frameworks
1. React Native
React Native is undoubtedly one of the most popular front-end development frameworks today. It is a free, open-source, cross-platform application development framework created by Meta (Facebook) to help you develop high-performing Android and iOS applications.
React uses its own Document Object Model (DOM) that ensures your app continuously performs well at scale. And since React follows a component-based structure, it means the development process is accessible for multiple teams.
- Easy to use due to a vibrant and large community that shares React knowledge through online tutorials, courses, etc.
- A component-based approach enables it to define and reuse the component as needed.
- Version Control gives notices on outdated code structure.
- Documentation may seem inadequate for beginners.
- It is only used for user interface (UI) development.
- Not ideal for small projects.
- It is up to you to decide on the structure and style guide.
Angular is known for the flexibility it offers in building single-page applications. It also uses a component-based approach to application development. Angular also adds a template system that handles the components.
The best thing about Angular is that you can use it to create apps for multiple platforms simultaneously. Code can be used again to be implemented in mobile, web, or native apps. Angular is optimized via Web Workers and SSR.
- MVC architecture.
- Dynamic scaling of apps via modular templating.
- In-built state management, routing, services, and much more.
- Cross-platform app development.
- Steep learning curve.
- Not ideal for small-scale apps.
- Inefficient for SEO due to the progressive web app nature.
- Not the most sought-after framework these days.
Vue is an excellent choice for modern app development, particularly after its latest release, Vue 3. This new release offers many improvements, such as the new build toolchain that utilizes Vite.
It also offers a modernized documentation process and better state management via Pinia. Moreover, Vue is famous for giving you the flexibility to decide what you wish to build. For instance, you can develop and structure web components that can be reused in different development stacks.
Additionally, you can use Vue to work on single-page application projects since it offers DevTools, CSR, testing tools, and support for TypeScript.
- Enables reactive data binding for real-time applications.
- You can easily reuse app components.
- It is easy to use for beginners.
- It offers Vue CLI for tooling.
- Cross-platform development may be complex.
- It comes with a language constraint since Chinese developers initially developed it.
- It has fewer plugins.
- The programming community does not widely use it.
The essential difference between Svelte and React is that you do not need to completely transfer the former to the browser. Instead, Svelte apps are assembled, which means that the components are turned into a pre-made JS file.
Moreover, Svelte does not use the virtual DOM to make changes. It assembles them with their DOM node pre-assigned. Also, Svelte is highly compatible with native HTML code.
- Requires less code.
- Its in-built compiler results in better performance.
- Style scoping is linked to each component separately.
- Not the ideal framework for cross-platform app development.
- It has a relatively smaller community of users.
- Its compiler-based approach may impede scalability.
- Lacks IDE support.
Flutter is a user interface (UI) toolkit developed by Google. It is a cross-platform mobile app development framework used to build native apps for web, mobile, and desktop. The best thing about Flutter is that it enables you to build iOS and Android applications using a single codebase.
Moreover, Flutter uses Skia (a rendering engine) for developing visuals. It also offers widgets, integrating and debugging APIs, and other such resources to facilitate the development and deployment of interactive and robust mobile apps.
Xamarin is another free and popular open-source front-end framework used to build mobile apps. It is based on .NET and was acquired by Microsoft in 2016. Xamarin enables you to build high-performing native apps for Windows, iOS, and Android devices.
It comes equipped with nearly all the necessary tools and a library that help you build native applications that offer a rich user experience. Moreover, Xamarin allows you to share a common codebase, thus enabling a more efficient and cost-effective app development process.
Ember is actively being developed; the Ember 4.0 release comes with new features to keep pace with recent front-end development trends. It ensures that your code stays intact when significant changes occur in the framework itself.
Lit, formerly known as LitElement and lit-HTML, is a web components framework managed by Google. It is a library for designing web components capable of working with any or no framework. It enables you to build shareable applications, components, design systems, etc.
Lit is famous for building progressive web applications with complex and simple user interfaces. It uses APIs to break down standard web component functions like managing attributes, properties, and rendering. Moreover, Lit’s runtime footprint is negligible.
Moreover, it assembles templates into real DOM nodes and encases updates in fine-grained reactions so that only the relevant code runs when the state is updated. It is easy to use for those who have already worked with React Hooks, as it derives support from Knockout and Reacts.
All these front-end development frameworks are great, but developers use them for different purposes. The vital thing to see here is that all developers want to simplify app development for themselves. Some trends suggest that developers are losing interest in AngularJS, Vue, and React.
Other alternatives, like Solid and Lit, are gaining more favor amongst developers. However, that’s not to say that Vue, React, and Angular are about to go out of business. It’s just that new front-end frameworks are also becoming popular now.