How to pick the best JavaScript Framework for your WordPress build

javascript framework
The WP Crowd

Roy Sivan

senior contributor
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Published: April 14, 2016

If you are just getting into JavaScript, you may have seen the plethora of JavaScript frameworks (MVC and others) that are available it can be overwheling. But which framework is the best framework for you?

One way to learn is to look over  the interactive roundup of frameworks at  TodoMVC and see how they work.

jQuery is not one of the frameworks

First, lets start off with what most people are going to turn to when they first pick up JavaScript: jQuery. jQuery is NOT a JavaScript framework, it is a library. jQuery is a very powerful library that you can use to do a lot of amazing things. From the simple “let me animate this to the left” to the complex AJAX and templating. It is so powerful it is hard to see why a lot of people coming into JavaScript bundle jQuery in with the the big framworks. jQuery is to be used in tandem with a framework of your choosing to only enhance the experience.

Start with jQuery

If you are just starting out with JavaScript, check out me and Josh Pollock talking about it, and how to get started with JavaScript. We both agreed, the best place to start is jQuery, it is not as daunting as working with vanilla (plain) JavaScript, and offers a quick learning curve to get into some powerful UI functionality.

The best JavaScript Frameworks for WordPress

Were you expecting an answer here? If you were, I’m sorry, there is no answer to “which is the best”. However there are so many, I’m instead going to talk about how you should figure out the best one for you.

Workflow

As you level up your WordPress development skills, your workflow will change. You will start adding things to it like npmgulp or grunt, and Sass. This is going to be key. If you have a good workflow, find a JavaScript framework that works best for that framework.

For example, ReactJS compiles jsx to .js files. When I first started learning, adding this addition to my workflow was another learning curve (on top of learning React) that I was not happy about, nor planning on. I had such a great workflow, I did not want to change it. Also, I kept hitting walls trying to get my gulp commands to run it for me, always throwing errors.

The Code

This is where some real trial and error comes into play. Try building something with one of the frameworks you want to learn about. I’d say look at ToDoMVC and their code, but nothing compares to actually building something. I learned AngularJS and ReactJS the same way, I built a WordPress theme powered by the WordPress REST API for each framework. I then built a backend admin app using both languages, just so I could really get a feel for each.

Workflow + Your Code

Bring what you learned above together and this is where “the best framework for you” really comes together. Once you find that perfect sweet spot of code that you like coding ’cause it fits well into your workflow, you have found the best framework for you. Other frameworks may share some of the coding, or the workflow, so keep on trying new ones.

Overall, this is why I personally picked Angular. It was a mix of peers who recommended it to me, and my instant connection. I was able to build something pretty robust very quickly, and to this day can get an Angular app (Single Page or micro app) up and running very quickly. I know how to work with it, it works well with my workflow, and overall I just enjoy working with it.

And if you want to talk to me about Angular and Angular 2, feel free to ping me on Twitters. I will be migrating to Angular2 soon 🙂

Backbone is in WP

Yes, before you say you “should” learn Backbone because it is already in WordPress, you “should” not learn anything because someone else does. That is why while I love Angular, I won’t tell people to exclusively use it. Try Backbone, seriously….. good luck. If you want to try Backbone, Ian from Delicious Brains has a good intro and Adam Silverstein of 10up also does a great talk on Backbone.

Which framework do you like?

Let us know which framework you like the best? Is it Angular? React? Ember? Backbone?

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[…] of development, “the best” workflow is not defined. Just like asking what the “best JavaScript framework” is, the answer will be “which ever suits you best.” I will say there are few […]