AngularJS, Ember or Backbone

Choosing the right JavaScript framework

Amanda Cline
Choice image via Shutterstock

How do you decide which new framework to implement? A look at the pros and cons of the Angular, Ember and Backbone JavaScript frameworks and the factors programmers need to consider when make the choice for their project.

JavaScript frameworks are becoming popular among web developers for building single-page applications, as they assist in keeping the code structured and maintainable, which eventually helps save a lot of time in the long run. Essentially, JavaScript frameworks avoid the mess created by spaghetti code.

There are many JavaScript frameworks available online, such as: Backbone, Ember, AngularJS, Knockout and many others. But, with too many options, choosing the right one becomes an overwhelming decision. Perhaps, you may try experimenting with one or two frameworks, but may still feel confused about selecting the one you would want to master.

In this post, we’ll be comparing three of the most talked about JS frameworks: AngularJS, Ember and Backbone. But prior to that, let’s first have a brief overview of these frameworks.

A quick look at them all

AngularJS: This JavaScript framework give developers the ability to “extend the HTML vocabulary for web apps”. Also, AngularJS helps in adding some control to the applications using data binding, controllers and plain JavaScript. Besides this, the framework allows developers to create reusable components, and so much more.

Ember.js: It is a great framework for creating highly productive web applications. It comes with Handlebars integrated templates that help in writing less code for complex apps. Almost everything needed for writing an application is builtin, including components, routing and many other things. This saves developers from reinventing the wheel.

Backbone.js: Backbone helps in making the code less cluttered models, by implementing an event-driven communication between “Models” and “Views”. This framework helps developers uncover the minimal set of models and collections, as well as UI primitives used for creating web apps using JavaScript.

A comparison of the frameworks

Here we’ll discuss a few factors to understand which one of the three JS frameworks (i. e. AngularJS, Ember and Backbone) will best suit your project needs.

  • Community Around the Framework

Cline Figure 1 and 2You can always seek help from volunteers in the frameworks’ community regarding your queries. And so, the level of community support a JavaScript framework provides is an important factor that needs to be considered when selecting a framework. Not to mention, the larger the community will be, the more support you can expect in the form of tutorials and other useful resources.

If you’ll look at both of these two comparison charts (Figures 1 and 2), it is clear that AngularJS has attracted more interest and has a more active community (evaluated in terms of opened and closed issues). This doesn’t mean that the two other two frameworks, i. e. Ember and Backbone, render poor community support, but AngularJS’s growth is far better than the other frameworks.

  • Learning Curve

Once you’ve come to know about the framework that provides a better level of community support, next it is important to determine which one can help you begin with the web application development task without much hassle. Put simply, you’ll have to identify which one of the three frameworks has an easy learning curve.

AngularJS’s two-way data binding will save you from writing “boilerplate” (i. e. repetitive) code, when building a web development application. But, as your application becomes more complex, you’ll find that AngularJS has a steep learning curve, as you will need to become familiar with lots of concepts which includes filters, modules, routing and more.

Ember.js is easy to learn in comparison to AngularJS. But unlike the Backbone framework, Ember.js fails to offer guides on getting started with web app development. In essence, it does not have good documentation.

Compared to AngularJS and Ember frameworks, Backbone is relatively simple and easy to use. That’s because you only need to grasp a few concepts like Models, Collections etc. Plus, Backbone has great documentation.

  • Optimized for Performance

Compared to AngularJS and Ember, Backbone performs much faster. The performance of both AngularJS and Backbone frameworks may appear to you the same as when building applications with smaller pages. However, as the page grows, apps created using AngularJS two-way data binding might result in decreased performance.

On the other hand, since Backbone.js doesn’t perform data binding, you’ll need to write the binding on your own. Though this will make you write a large amount of code, but it will also help you focus more on improving performance without the need to make changes to the underlying framework.

Making a decision

There’s no doubt that all three frameworks, i.  e. AngularJS, Ember and Backbone, will be useful to any web developer. However, each framework contains its own set of pros and cons, and so it is important for you to carefully review which JavaScript framework provides a better set of advantages over the other for your project needs. We’ve tried to cover three of the most important factors for choosing the right framework. However, make sure to select one that best fits your project’s specific needs.

Amanda Cline
Amanda Cline is one of the top-notch programmers currently serving for Xicom Technologies Ltd. Mobile App Development Company. She provides concrete information on latest mobile technologies and also loves sharing tech information and ideas on application programming.

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