Gaining Perspective on Trends in JavaScript

Twice today I was asked by colleagues to give my opinion on React vs X. I have a lot of opinions on the subject like “OMG I will never go back to a template language after JSX” but those can wait for another blog post. I found myself responding with things like “React is destroying everything else in the tech world right now”. Now, at the time I wrote this I believed this statement. The main thing I had to point to was a graphic from the StackOverflow blog on 2017 hiring trends.

While this is an impressive chart showing off React’s ultra trendiness, it is not really enough to get the perspective I would like. For that, I had to do a deep dive into the rabbit hole that is StackOverflow trending charts. The rest of this post is an arbitrary assortment of comparisons of technology trends on StackOverflow that gave me and hopefully with give you a little bit better perspective on the technology landscape.

React vs Angular

These two are a good place to start our adventure into arbitrary comparisons.

Right off the bat I was surprised. If I had to guess prior to this post, I would have thought that React’s growth over the last year far surpassed Angular’s but looking at this chart, Angular’s growth from 2012 to mid 2015 was much a much steeper incline. It does however look like in Aug 2016 things changed in favor of React. I don’t think that it is a coincidence that this was right when Angular 2 was released. If these trends continue then React will overtake Angular before the end of the year.

Ember vs Backbone

This one is interesting. I have a soft spot in my heart for Ember because it was my first foray into JavaScript frameworks outside of jQuery. Seems like another misconception of mine that ember was substantially more popular than Backbone was wrong as well.

Looking at these two frameworks, they are nearly identical in their trajectories but one year apart. Either way, it is pretty clear both of these technologies are looking like they are on their way towards fading into obscurity. One thing I have noticed from speaking with my clients is that large enterprise clients seem to like the strict conventions that an Ember app provides so perhaps that will be it’s niche going forward.

Vue vs React

Out of all the technologies that I get asked about (outside of React) Vue.js comes up the most. I have played around with it and it looks like a solid framework. I just recently found out that it comes out of the box with the Laravel framework. Let’s take a look at how it is trending vs React.

Both are clearly on the rise but Vue has a ways to go here if it is going to catch up with React any time soon. It would likely take another large community or company to buy into Vue to give it the boost it will need to trend past React. An interesting comparison that popped up was looking at Vue vs Redux, the defacto state management library that came out of the React community.

Vue vs Redux

No real take aways here between these two but it is interesting that they both are JS frameworks that started about the same time and have very similar trajectories so far.

Vue vs Ember vs Backbone

So far Vue has just about an identical Rise as Ember and Backbone did. Only time will tell if it’s rise will go the way of React and Angular and get mass adoption or regress like Ember and Backbone.

React vs Angular vs Ember vs Vue vs Backbone

Let’s get a little perspective on the technologies we have covered so far and put them all on the same chart.

As you can see, React and Angular are playing a different ballgame at the moment.

Node vs React vs Angular

Adding Node to the mix will give us a bit more perspective on where the frameworks are in the JS ecosystem.

Node which has been on a predictable steady incline since 2010 has just surpassed Angular.

If we focus on Node and React we can see that they have very similar trajectories with React being every so slightly steeper in it’s climb.

Ruby vs Node vs React

I cut my teeth in the programming world with Ruby using the Rails framework. Before this post I would have guessed that Node, a subset of JavaScript would be trending less than the Ruby language as a whole.

Node surpassed Ruby near the middle of 2014 and React surpassed it in the middle of 2016.

Javascript vs jQuery vs Node vs React

Let’s take a look at the frameworks we are talking about with the perspective of the whole JavaScript community.

By adding jQuery and JavaScript into the mix we can see that the JS frameworks we have been talking about are still quite a small portion of the community still. It was a bit shocking to me that jQuery is still in much higher than than React and Node combined! It looks like it will be a long while before either of those frameworks trend over jQuery.

JavaScript vs PHP vs Python vs Ruby vs Java

Just for fun let’s look at how the languages are trending. It is indeed a good time to be a JavaScript developer.

It is up there at the top and still trending up. Lookout for for Python though. It is making a strong push!


My preferred stack is a JavaScript stack using Node/React. Although there were many things I discovered that were surprising about the technology landscape, Node/React/JavaScript are all still trending up and looking strong. I will stay the course for now and keep my eye on the trends.