Using the Stack Overflow Trends tool and some of our internal traffic data, we decided to take a look at some of the more prominent UI frameworks: Angular, React, Vue.js, Backbone, Knockout, and Ember.
Stack Overflow Trends lets us examine how each of these technologies has been asked about over time. We can start by looking at some of the larger frameworks.
These larger frameworks show only part of the picture. There also were smaller frameworks vying for dominance. The picture here shows just how brutal the lifecycle can be.
By Language or Technology
There are various factors that may go into a developer’s use of one particular front-end framework or another. Developers who primarily work with one programming language or technology may be more inclined to choose a certain UI framework. For instance, we might expect Node.JS developers to choose a different framework than ones who work with Ruby on Rails.
We can get a sense of this by breaking developers into groups based on the tag they most visit, and for each group examine the percentage of traffic that goes to each of these frameworks.
Angular and React are by far the most popular across the board, no matter the technology used. It makes sense that they are the clear frontrunners, supported by two of the biggest and most influential companies in tech. Just looking at those two frameworks, Angular is more visited amongst C#, Java, and (to a degree) PHP developers, whereas React is more popular with Rails, Node.js, and Python developers.
There are a couple of interesting observations when we look at some of the less popular tags. Ember.js and Ruby on Rails share a disproportionately strong relationship compared to other technologies. This marriage could be due to some of the philosophical similarities between the two frameworks. Ember was created by Yehuda Katz, a member of the Ruby on Rails core team. Due to this, both Ember and Ruby on Rails advocate a convention over configuration paradigm that make these two technologies complimentary and allow developers to quickly be productive without worrying about the nitty gritty configuration, until they need to.
What industries tended to use each of these frameworks?
We can tell that the media and retail industries by far tend to use these frameworks and have a higher percentage across the board compared to other industries, as companies in these industries tend to gravitate to newer technologies to bring rich client-side experiences to their users to engage with content and refine the online shopping experience. This contrasts with the academic, government, and healthcare sectors, which appear to have little need for these types of frameworks. This may be because those industries are relatively more concerned with database management or data analysis rather than front-end web development.
The largest outlier and mystery is the insurance industry. Compared to other industries, Insurance companies as a whole seem to use Angular at very high rate, without using much React. We’re still looking further into why this would be the case, but if there are any developers who work for an insurance company reading this, feel free to leave your conjecture in the comments.
React and Angular Usage in the United States
As we have examined in previous posts, choice of programming technologies differ greatly by geography.
So, keeping with the React and Angular theme, which cities in the United States (among the 25 cities with the most visits overall) are more likely to use these frameworks?
Interestingly enough, this group of cities is split fairly evenly between the frameworks, with Dallas and Denver trending more towards Angular and Brooklyn and San Francisco more towards React. I like to think San Francisco and Brooklyn are two of the trendiest cities in the US, and that this is why developers in those cities are also trendy with regards to their choice of framework.
Let me be clear, even though I’m from Brooklyn and have a budding affinity for React, I am not advocating for the use of any framework in particular. Like every technology choice, it’s not about what’s “hot,” but more about identifying tradeoffs and finding the tool for the problem at hand. But let’s be honest, the size of a developer community certainly counts; it contributes to a thriving open source environment, and makes it easier to find help on Stack Overflow.
Our related podcast with Dries Buytaert