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Front-End Tooling Survey Provides Insight Into the Community

| by David Iffland Follow 4 Followers on Sep 10, 2015. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |

Ashley Nolan asked developers about their front-end tooling choices and over 1,000 developers responded. The results are in and Nolan's analysis provides another perspective on the state of JavaScript in 2015.

An often asked question is, "What framework should I use?" While Angular has garnered a lot of attention over the past few years, React has arrived. The survey asked developers, "Which JavaScript library or framework do you use on the majority of your projects?". While we may have reached peak jQuery, over 55% of projects still rely on the stalwart. 15% of respondents said they use Angular and React weighed in at 8%.

Nolan's results put the Angular to React usage ratio at 2:1, which agrees with a recent InfoQ Survey on JavaScript Frameworks in the Real World.

Regarding task runners, the results showed that Gulp has a commanding lead over Grunt. Nolan told InfoQ this surprised him:

I thought that Gulp would do well as I thought it had narrowed the gap on Grunt considerably, but I didn’t expect it to come out on top by as much as it did. I think this shows how over a longer time period people are willing to switch tools if they can see the value of doing so, which people are now doing in this case.

pie chart showing gulp usage at over 50%
Chart used with permission from Ashley Nolan

The survey also showed that testing is not a focus for a lot of developers. Over 56% of respondents said they don't use any tools to test their JavaScript. Of those that do use a testing tool, Mocha and Jasmine emerged as the two most commonly used. Nolan suggested to InfoQ that short-sightedness might be the cause:

I think although a lot of emphasis has been placed on JS testing in the community, it can still be one of the more difficult areas to actually get your head around setting up – not all developers see the value in the time they would need to put into learning a test framework when compared to learning a new JavaScript framework or any number of new aspects of front-end development. Justifying the time needed to learn and put a test framework in place can be a much more difficult sell when working for managers or companies that only look at the bottom line and not at the bigger picture.

Ideally, Nolan will repeat the survey on a periodic basis to discover how the trends change over time. He told InfoQ that he expects to see interest in PostCSS grow. "It has a lot of momentum in the industry right now and allows developers more control over their CSS processing," he said.

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