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Ashley Nolan Surveys State of JavaScript Tooling in 2016

| by David Iffland Follow 4 Followers on Dec 15, 2016. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |

Ashley Nolan has released the results to the 2016 edition of his annual front-end tooling survey, providing some numbers behind the "which framework should I choose" debate.

Anecdotally, the mood in the community has been that React is becoming the dominant JavaScript framework, picking up momentum while Google was busy building Angular 2. According to the survey, 37.67% of respondents said they frequently use React, edging out those that say they use Angular (1 and 2 combined) at 33.24%. Among those using Angular, Angular 1 dominates Angular 2 usage, suggesting that many have not made the switch to Google's new platform. Even newcomer Vue.js was used more than Angular 2 with 9.67% of respondents saying they frequently use it.

Asked "Which JavaScript library or framework would you regard as essential to you in the majority of your projects?", 18.18% said React was essential while only 8.19% listed Angular 1 and 2.74% listed Angular 2. Again, Vue.js was marked as essential more often than Angular 2.

For module bundlers, Webpack dominated the competition, used by nearly 42% of respondents. Browserify was a distant second at almost 11%.

InfoQ caught up with Nolan to get his perspective on the results:

InfoQ: What JavaScript results surprised you the most?

Ashley Nolan: I was a little surprised to see that jQuery usage was still quite so strong. Not because it isn’t still a useful tool, but there has been a lot of press lately about developers moving on from using jQuery now that we have better access to ES6. With 69.65% of developers still using it frequently on their projects and 31.13% still regarding it as their essential JS tool, it seems that jQuery is still playing an important role in many developers workflows.

I was also surprised to see just how much usage Webpack now has among developers. In the 2015 results, there was no clear leader when it came to module bundling, but it has clearly struck a chord and is now by far the most used tool in that category with 41.61% of respondents now using it.

InfoQ: What are your thoughts on the rise in React vs. Angular?

Nolan: I think that React has a lot of momentum in the industry and it isn’t showing many signs of slowing down right now. I would expect to see it continue to grow slightly in next years survey, although I think the most interesting part of this will be how many developers currently using Angular 1 will migrate over to using version 2, or instead make the switch over to using React (or another framework).

InfoQ: Any predictions for 2017?

Nolan: I’d expect to see JS transpiler usage to grow further as more developers move over to using ES6. I’d also think that usage of jQuery will drop a little, simply as more developers start using ES6.

I’d also like to see usage of CSS tools grow over the next 12 months, such as CSS Naming Schemes and knowledge of CSS linters such as Stylelint. I think there’s a big emphasis on the importance of tooling in the JavaScript community, but this seems to be slightly less so when writing CSS (outside of preprocessors). 

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