Interview with Sacha Greif, co-creator of the State of JavaScript 2017 survey

“Angular’s refocusing on the enterprise market has left an opening for React to gain ground”

Ann-Cathrin Klose

Sacha Greif

The State of JavaScript 2017 results are in! Although we’ve already presented them here, it’s time to allow Sacha Greif, one of the creators to talk about the survey and to offer us a sneak peek at the technologies worth learning in 2018.

JAXenter: The State of JavaScript 2017 survey covers a lot of topics from different fields, all related to JavaScript of course. Let’s start with a comparison with last year’s results. In 2016, you said there was a new wave of JavaScript flavors rushing in. What flavors were you referring to and what’s the verdict this year? Are any new trends visible in this area?

Sacha Greif: The 2016 results confirmed that ES6 had become the default way of writing JavaScript and that results hold true this year too. New options like Reason, Elm, ClojureScript, etc. have a lot of potential as well but at this point, they’re still very niche. 

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JAXenter: TypeScript seems to have gained a lot of popularity this year. Do the survey results support this or do they show a different trend for TypeScript?

Sacha Greif: TypeScript is definitely a big winner this year, having been adopted by more and more open-source projects. Almost everybody has heard about it, and those that don’t use it yet tend to have a positive opinion of it.

It wouldn’t surprise me if TypeScript kept gaining market share in 2018 and became a pretty standard way of writing JavaScript. 

SEE ALSO: JavaScript developers prefer React, want to ditch Angular & are attracted to Vue.js

JAXenter: What is the current “standard” choice of language for developers?

Sacha Greif: In terms of “flavor” of JavaScript, ES6 and its successors are the definite standard. 

JAXenter: Frameworks are also very important in the field of JavaScript. Can you tell us more about the most popular front-end framework?

In 2017, most developers reach for React (or Vue) as their default front-end library, only considering Angular for more complex projects that require a more integrated approach. 

Sacha Greif: Angular’s refocusing on the enterprise market has left an opening for React to gain ground, and Vue –despite its rapid growth– still hasn’t quite caught up yet. So unsurprisingly, Facebook’s front-end library still dominates the category, both in terms of overall market share but also in terms of satisfaction. 

JAXenter: Angular vs. React has been a very debated discussion in 2017. Last year, your survey showed that everyone was interested in Angular 2 while React was more satisfactory to work with. Which one did better this year?

Sacha Greif: Last year’s trend remained constant: React is still dominant, at least among the survey’s audience.

JAXenter: On a personal note, is there any advice you could give our readers on how to decide between Angular and React?

Sacha Greif: While the Angular team is always improving their product, it also seems like Angular might be better suited to larger enterprise projects compared to React’s more nimble (but also more fragmented) approach. It seems like in 2017, most developers reach for React (or Vue) as their default front-end library, only considering Angular for more complex projects that require a more integrated approach. 

JAXenter: What is going on in the field of JavaScript for mobile development at the moment? Has there been a growth in this field when it comes to framework usage or are native apps still the most popular? 

Sacha Greif: Mobile trends seem stable as well. React Native still has a very good satisfaction score, but also a fairly low usage share; meanwhile, native apps remain more of a safe bet. It may be that a lot of developers have felt let down by the write-once-run-anywhere promise of PhoneGap/Cordova (which have fairly low satisfaction scores) and prefer to play it safe for now. 

JAXenter: Are there any general trends that you noticed in the JavaScript world this year that everyone should know about? 

Sacha Greif: Apart from the rise of TypeScript and Vue’s continued rapid growth, I would say keep an eye out for GraphQL. It’s the technology that has the largest interest ratio (developers wanting to learn it vs developers not interested in it) while still having a fairly low number of actual current users, which probably indicates a sizable portion of the ecosystem learning GraphQL in 2018!

If for some reason React ceased to exist tomorrow, I would probably switch to Vue.

JAXenter: The results show that a lot of people aren’t using any front-end frameworks. Do you have any idea why? 

Sacha Greif: To be more precise, the results say a lot of people are comfortable not using any frameworks, it doesn’t necessarily say that given the choice that’s the option they prefer. Maybe next year we can phrase the question in a way that removes some of that ambiguity. But in any case, I think it’s always been a point of pride for developers to be able to code things from scratch without depending too much on pre-existing libraries.

JAXenter: What would be your first choice when it comes to front-end frameworks? Would you also bet on React like most respondents or would you use something else? 

Sacha Greif: Personally yes, I happily use React for all my projects. If for some reason React ceased to exist tomorrow, I would probably switch to Vue.

I think Meteor has been a victim of its own success in a way.

JAXenter: Do you think Angular’s glory days are over? 

Sacha Greif: Keeping in mind that I’ve never actually used Angular so my opinion isn’t worth that much, no, I don’t think so. Angular still has an amazing team behind it, as well as a huge user base, so you can’t really count it out. 

JAXenter: Despite the fact that Meteor is quite well-known, it hasn’t managed to impress a lot of people. Why is that? What are, in your view, its deal-breakers? 

Sacha Greif: This hits close to home since I’m a Meteor user myself. I think Meteor has been a victim of its own success in a way. It reached a lot of developers initially by being a truly groundbreaking framework, but by trying to do so much it also spread itself thin and had a hard time competing in any single area. 

Now that the Meteor team is leaner and more focused (for example, they no longer maintain their own front-end framework and instead recommend using React, Angular, Vue, etc.) the platform itself has seen dramatic improvements in the last year or so. Sadly, a lot of people have already moved on and it’s understandably hard to get them to give Meteor a second chance… 

JAXenter: What has radically changed from last year and why?

Sacha Greif: I wouldn’t say anything has radically changed. In my opinion, JavaScript has entered a much-needed consolidation and maturation phase, where most of the change happens internally and transparently (such as React releasing their new Fiber rewrite) rather than through constant library churn. And that’s a good thing for everybody!

Thank you!

Ann-Cathrin Klose

Ann-Cathrin Klose

All Posts by Ann-Cathrin Klose

Ann-Cathrin Klose is an editor and has been working for S&S Media since 2015. Before joining the team she studied General Linguistics at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz.

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