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The 10 hottest JavaScript framework projects

Dave Gruber | Oct. 9, 2013
Community strength is a huge factor is determining which JavaScript framework to adopt. Here's a close look at the activity swirling around AngularJS, Backbone.JS, Ember.js, and more

Total number of contributors for all 10 JavaScript projects: If you have any doubt, this chart will convince you that JavaScript is eating the world, with the average number of developers more than doubling from 2011 to 2013.

Lines of code and commits
You may be left wondering about the size of the code bases for each of these projects -- and the relationship between that number and the number of contributors. Comparing these, we see that community size and total commits have little correlation to the size of the code base. For example, AngularJS shows a ratio of 413 LOC per contributor while Ember shows a ratio of 146 LOC per contributor.

Line of code vs. contributors: More lines of code per contributor may indicate that a project is easier to contribute to, which some see as an indicator of a project's health.

You can, however, correlate the size of the community (all-time contributors) with the all-time number of commits and see that the number of commits per contributor varies greatly by project. This may show that some projects are easier to contribute to, affecting their long-term sustainability.

Reading the tea leaves
Community size and growth are important indicators of a project's momentum. While these indicators can't tell us the whole story, they provide important insight into projects that are being heavily invested in and help us make decisions based on the viability and sustainability of the community behind a project. They can also aid us in finding tipping points in a project's life span, providing us with opportunities to both engage in projects and influence change.

The subject of rich UI frameworks is near and dear to me, as I spent five years at Adobe driving product marketing for the Flex framework, now an Apache project. Based on all the data analyzed here, my take is that Ember and AngularJS are emerging as the frameworks to watch. That said, the ecosystem surrounding Backbone demonstrates both the popularity and commitment to this UI approach, and is therefore sure to have a continuing, bright future ahead.


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