mercoledì 17 dicembre 2014

The 5 Most Popular Frontend Frameworks of 2014 Compared

Nowadays there is a deluge of CSS front-end frameworks. But the number of really good ones can be narrowed down to just a few.

In this article we’ll compare what I think are the five best frameworks available today. Each framework has its own strengths and weaknesses, and specific areas of application, allowing you to choose based on the needs of a specific project. For example, if your project is simple, there is no need to use a complex framework. Also, many of the options are modular, allowing you to use only the components you need, or even mix components from different frameworks.

The frameworks that I’m going to explore are presented based on their GitHub popularity, beginning with the most popular, which is, of course, Bootstrap.

(Note: Some of the information below will go out of date in the coming weeks and months (e.g. GitHub stars, version numbers), so be aware of this if you’re reading this article long after the publication date. Also note that the framework sizes are the minified sizes of the necessary CSS and JavaScript files.)

1. Bootstrap

Bootstrap is the undisputed leader among the available frameworks today. Given its huge popularity, which is still growing every day, you can be sure that this wonderful toolkit won’t fail you, or leave you alone on your way to building successful websites.

Bootstrap

  • Creators: Mark Otto and Jacob Thornton.
  • Released: 2011
  • Current version: 3.3.1
  • Popularity: 75,000+ stars on GitHub
  • Description: “Bootstrap is the most popular HTML, CSS, and JavaScript framework for developing responsive, mobile first projects on the web.”
  • Core concepts/principles: RWD and mobile first.
  • Framework size: 145 KB
  • Preprocessors: Less and Sass
  • Responsive: Yes
  • Modular: Yes
  • Starting templates/layouts: Yes
  • Icon set: Glyphicons Halflings set
  • Extras/Add-ons: None bundled, but many third-party plug-ins are available.
  • Unique components: Jumbotron
  • Documentation: Good
  • Customization: Basic GUI Customizer. Unfortunately you need to input the color values manually, because there is no color picker available.
  • Browser support: Firefox, Chrome, Safari, IE8+ (you need Respond.js for IE8)
  • License: MIT
Notes on Bootstrap

The main strength of Bootstrap is its huge popularity. Technically, it’s not necessarily better than the others in the list, but it offers many more resources (articles and tutorials, third-party plug-ins and extensions, theme builders, and so on) than the other four frameworks combined. In short, Bootstrap is everywhere. And this is the main reason people continue to choose it.

(Note: By saying “unique components” I mean that they are unique compared only to the frameworks mentioned in this list.)

2. Foundation by ZURB

Foundation is the second big player in this comparison. With a solid company like ZURB backing it, this framework has a truly strong … well… foundation. After all, Foundation is used on many big websites including Facebook, Mozilla, Ebay, Yahoo!, and National Geographic, to name a few.

ZURB Foundation

  • Creators: ZURB
  • Released: 2011
  • Current version: 5.4.7
  • Popularity: 18,000+ stars on GitHub
  • Description: “The most advanced responsive front-end framework in the world”
  • Core concepts/principles: RWD, mobile first, semantic.
  • Framework size: 326 KB
  • Preprocessors: Sass
  • Responsive: Yes
  • Modular: Yes
  • Starting templates/layouts: Yes
  • Icon set: Foundation Icon Fonts
  • Extras/Add-ons: Yes
  • Unique components: Icon Bar, Clearing Lightbox, Flex Video, Keystrokes, Joyride, Pricing Tables
  • Documentation: Good. Many additional resources are available.
  • Customization: No GUI customizer, only manual customization.
  • Browser support: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, IE9+; iOS, Android, Windows Phone 7+
  • License: MIT
Notes on Foundation

Foundation is a truly professional framework with business support, training, and consulting offered. It also provides many resources to help you learn and use the framework faster and easier.

3. Semantic UI

Semantic UI is an ongoing effort to make building websites much more semantic. It utilizes natural language principles, thus making the code much more readable and understandable.

Semantic UI

  • Creator: Jack Lukic
  • Released: 2013
  • Current version: 1.2.0
  • Popularity: 12,900+ stars on GitHub
  • Description: “A UI component framework based around useful principles from natural language.”
  • Core concepts/principles: Semantic, tag ambivalence, responsive.
  • Framework size: 552 KB
  • Preprocessors: Less
  • Responsive: Yes
  • Modular: Yes
  • Starting templates/layouts: No
  • Icon set: Font Awesome
  • Extras/Add-ons: No
  • Unique components: Divider, Flag, Rail, Reveal, Step, Advertisement, Card, Feed, Item, Statistic, Dimmer, Rating, Shape.
  • Documentation: Very good. Semantic offers a very well organized documentation, plus a separate website that offers guides for getting started, customizing and creating themes.
  • Customization: No GUI customizer, only manual customization.
  • Browser support: Firefox, Chrome, Safari, IE10+ (IE9 with browser prefix only), Android 4, Blackberry 10
  • License: MIT
Notes on Semantic UI

Semantic is the most innovative and full-featured framework among those discussed here. The overall structure of the framework and the naming conventions, in terms of clear logic and semantics of its classes also surpasses the others.

4. Pure by Yahoo!

Pure is a lightweight, modular framework – written in pure CSS – that includes components that can be used together or separately depending on your needs.

Pure by Yahoo!

  • Creator: Yahoo
  • Released: 2013
  • Current version: 0.5.0
  • Popularity: 9,900+ stars on GitHub
  • Description: “A set of small, responsive CSS modules that you can use in every web project.”
  • Core concepts/principles: SMACSS, minimalism.
  • Framework size: 18 KB
  • Preprocessors: None
  • Responsive: Yes
  • Modular: Yes
  • Starting templates/layouts: Yes
  • Icon set: None. You can use Font Awesome instead.
  • Extras/Add-ons: None
  • Unique components: None
  • Documentation: Good
  • Customization: Basic GUI Skin Builder
  • Browser support: Latest versions of Firefox, Chrome, Safari; IE7+; iOS 6.x, 7.x; Android 4.x
  • License: Yahoo! Inc. BSD
Notes on Pure

Pure offers only bare-bones styles for a clean start to your project. It’s ideal for people who don’t need a full-featured framework but only specific components to include in their work.

5. UIkit by YOOtheme

UIkit is a concise collection of easy to use and easy to customize components. Although it’s not as popular as its competitors, it offers the same functionality and quality.

UIkit

  • Creator: YOOtheme
  • Released: 2013
  • Current version: 2.13.1
  • Popularity: 3,800+ stars on GitHub
  • Description: “A lightweight and modular front-end framework for developing fast and powerful web interfaces.”
  • Core concepts/principles: RWD, mobile first
  • Framework size: 118 KB
  • Preprocessors: Less, Sass
  • Responsive: Yes
  • Modular: Yes
  • Starting templates/layouts: Yes
  • Icon set: Font Awesome
  • Extras/Add-ons: Yes
  • Unique components: Article, Flex, Cover, HTML Editor
  • Documentation: Good
  • Customization: Advanced GUI Customizer
  • Browser support: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, IE9+
  • License: MIT
Notes on UIkit

UIkit is successfully used in many WordPress themes. It offers a flexible and powerful customization mechanism, either manually or via its GUI customizer.

What’s the Right Framework for You?

In the end, let me give you some guidelines for choosing the right framework. Here are some of the more important things to watch out for:

  • Does the framework have enough popularity? Bigger popularity means more people involved in the project, and thus, more tutorials and articles from the community, more real-world examples/websites, more third-party extensions, and better integration with relative web development products. Great popularity also means that the framework is more future-proof – a framework with a bigger community around it is much less likely to be abandoned.
  • Is the framework under active development? A good framework needs to level up constantly with the latest web technologies, especially with regards to mobile.
  • Has the framework reached maturity? If a particular framework is not yet used and tested in real-world projects, then you can freely play with it, but to rely on it for your professional projects would likely be unwise.
  • Does the framework offer good documentation? Good documentation is always desirable in order to facilitate the learning process.
  • What is the framework’s level of specificity? The main point here is that a more generic framework is far easier to work with, in comparison to a framework with high-level specificity. In most cases it’s better to choose a framework with minimal styles applied because it’s much easier to customize. Adding new CSS rules is a far more convenient and efficient process compared to overwriting or overriding existing ones. Plus, if you add new rules on top of the existing ones, you’ll end up with unused rules, which will increase unnecessarily the size of the CSS.

Finally, in case you’re still unsure, you can adopt a mix-and-match approach. If a particular framework doesn’t satisfy your needs, you can mix components from two or more projects. For example, you can get smaller CSS base styling from one framework, a preferred grid system from another, and more complex components from a third. Viva modularity! :)

 

VIA: SitePoint

Categories:

Copyright © Niente Canzoni d'Amore | Powered by Blogger

Design by Anders Noren | Blogger Theme by NewBloggerThemes.com | BTheme.net        Up ↑