Lost in the Javascript ecosystem

I want to create an app. Keep it simple. Web looks nice, simple; it’s just some HTML, CSS and JS or isn’t it ?

We are working in a new project for which we decided that the web was the technology to go with in order to be able to successfully support a wide variety of platforms (Like Electron for the Desktop and Phonegap or Nativescript for mobiles). After months of research we are even more lost than at the beginning.

ES5, ES6+babel, Typescript ? Dart, CoffeeScript ? There is a nice variety

of supersets of JS in order to make easier programming for the front-end. Some years ago I learnt ES5, which is ok, but I must admit that I never enjoyed it. Looking to the future look promising but, which future ?

ES6 looks like it’s around the corner, but we must compile it to ES5 nowadays, there are great transpilers for that, but as soon as we need them, we need a build system; Grunt, gulp or whatever. Same for Typescript, Dart, CoffeeScript.

Ok, I wanted to write an app. Now I need the HTML, CSS, build system, and JS.

We are no experts, let’s not reinvent the wheel

Coming from Python, one of the first thing I always do when I start a project is an intense research on GitHub / Google / Stack Overflow to use what other have already done and that will help me on getting my work done faster and better.

Choosing a Framework

Let’s open the Pandora box.

The number of frameworks / libraries to work in a Javascript application is huge, the solutions diverse and the communities divided and with lot of hate from ones to each other. Not cool.

Angular(1 & 2), Ember, React, vue.js, Backbone, Polymer etc.. They all look great, they all have different philosophies and resolve complementary problems but for a new comer choosing one can be a tedious task. The number of articles in hackernews comparing them, it’s surprising, and it’s amazing how many questions you can find asking for the best of them.

Let’s say we choose one. Easily the number of dependencies our app has, meets enough of them to start thinking in dependency manager like bower or npm or jpms.

Is that all ?

Now we have, a build system, the HTML, the JS, the dependency manager and Oh the CSS, well, that if you live en era where CSS was enough, let’s add another build step with SCSS, because it’s easier to write it than css right ?

Oh ! and you forgot tests!

mind blowing

While making our own choices and testing we learnt a lot but nothing in particular.