The Rise and Fall of JS Frameworks

Node.js is not broken enough to be fixed
Rise and Fall of JS Frameworks
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In the ever-evolving landscape of programming languages and technologies, JavaScript has maintained its prominence for more than two decades. Why would it not? Everyone needs to build a backend for their websites. But then came in Node.js that introduced to the developer world the real ease of doing this. 

But then, in the last few years, there have been a lot of “Node.js alternatives” in the ecosystem. These languages such as Astro, Deno, or Bun, aim to address specific challenges and introduce novel features to the JavaScript ecosystem, more specifically, Node.js. People have been questioning the relevance of all the other frameworks that either tweak or just act like a wrapper around Node.js. 

Node.js, too good to be fixed

Firstly, let’s talk about the advantages of using Node.js and why no one would ever want to shift to anything apart from it. Node.js revolutionised server-side development by allowing developers to write JavaScript on the server. It has become a popular choice for developing web servers and APIs.

Node.js is also known for its event-driven, non-blocking I/O model, making it highly performant for building scalable, real-time applications. Developers can now use JavaScript on both the client and server sides, enabling them to share code and logic seamlessly between frontend and backend components. 

Furthermore, Node.js has the Node Package Manager (NPM), which is one of the largest ecosystems of open-source libraries and packages. This vast collection of modules simplifies development and speeds up project delivery. The language is designed to handle a large number of concurrent connections efficiently, making it suitable for building applications that require high levels of scalability. 

Many tech giants and startups alike, such as Netflix, PayPal, and LinkedIn rely on Node.js for their server-side needs, cementing its relevance in the industry. To bring in the relevance of AI, newer languages such as Astro, Deno, and Bun have emerged on the scene post-LLMs. Does anyone use these languages at all, given Node.js can also work well along with AI models as models such as GPT are trained until September 2021, without the data of the newer languages?

What do these exactly offer?

We will stick to three “almost popular” frameworks for JavaScript or alternatives to Node.js — Astro, Deno, and Bun. 

Astro is a static site generator (SSG) that focuses on performance and developer experience. It allows developers to build websites with the performance benefits of static site generators while maintaining the dynamic capabilities of a traditional web application. It prioritises speed and optimal performance by compiling your web application into highly optimised, minimal JavaScript, and utilising server-rendered HTML. This results in faster page loads and improved SEO. 

Astro supports multiple front-end frameworks, enabling developers to work with their preferred tools like React, Vue, and Svelte while maintaining a unified and efficient build process. Undoubtedly, it seems like a good alternative to Node.js given its speed, while also supporting Node runtime. On GitHub, Astro has more than 35k stars. 

Bun, on similar lines, is a bundler for modern JavaScript applications. It also focuses on optimising the build process for web applications, aiming to reduce bundle sizes and improve loading performance. It leverages advanced tree shaking and code-splitting techniques to create smaller and more efficient bundles, reducing page load times and improving the overall user experience. Moreover, Bun’s plugin-based architecture allows developers to customise the bundling process and integrate with various tools and frameworks, making it a specialised choice for those seeking an efficient and highly customizable bundler for modern web development.

As web performance becomes increasingly important, Bun’s approach resonated with developers looking to optimise their applications. It has around 61k starts on GitHub.

Then there is Deno, a runtime for JavaScript and TypeScript that aims to address some of the limitations of Node.js. It prioritises security, ease of use, and improved developer ergonomics. Deno’s module system relies on ES Modules, and it has its own package manager for streamlined module management. Additionally, Deno offers built-in tools like a formatter, linter, and test runner.

Deno’s unique features, such as built-in TypeScript support and enhanced security mechanisms, have garnered interest from a huge developer community with 90K GitHub stars. 

Undoubtedly, the adoption of new frameworks can be a slow process, especially when established options like Node.js have such a strong presence. Moreover, since each of these frameworks have specialised use cases, the adoption numbers are obviously not going to be as huge as Node.js. 

Can’t fix what isn’t broken

The biggest factor for not enough adoption of course is the Node.js dominance. Node.js has a well-established ecosystem of packages, libraries, and a vast community. Developers are often reluctant to switch to new platforms when Node.js already meets their needs. Compare this to why someone would shift from Python to C++ given that everyone is building AI models on it.

Astro, Deno, and Bun are still relatively young and lack the extensive ecosystem of packages and tooling available for Node.js. This can be a significant hurdle for adoption. Building a robust developer community takes time. Node.js’s massive community offers extensive support, while these alternatives are still working to cultivate a similar following.

Migrating existing projects from Node.js to Astro, Deno, or Bun can be challenging due to compatibility issues, leading developers to stick with what they know. Though the newer ones have made it a little easier to use other runtimes in the language, it is still not useful for developers. 

Add all of this to the fact that everyone in the industry is looking for Node.js in your resume and not any of the other frameworks.

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Mohit Pandey
Mohit dives deep into the AI world to bring out information in simple, explainable, and sometimes funny words. He also holds a keen interest in photography, filmmaking, and the gaming industry.

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