Best Front-End Frameworks For Fast Performance

6 min read time
Best Front-End Frameworks For Fast Performance

In recent years there has been an increasing expectation from app users that companies provide rich content experiences on every channel and platform, and in 2022, this will continue. 

Organizations and enterprises worldwide value a front-end framework that offers them the capabilities of building rich omnichannel experiences. There are many considerations when choosing a framework, such as the ability to reduce the developers' learning curve, minimize delivery risks, and maintain security, but one of the most important is speed.

Right at the top of the requirements list when choosing a front-end framework is performance. Individuals and organizations want to provide apps that are responsive to user interaction with no delay because this is what their users and customers expect. Customizing the front-end templates of a monolithic CMS is no longer an option in a mobile-first world.

Product managers and technical leads are leaning towards front-end frameworks that offer best-of-breed flexibility and high performance while being adaptable to the technology stack that their developers understand. 

Front-end frameworks are helpful for code reuse but have an inherent performance cost due to the volume of code needed for storing and rendering components. However, this can be minimized with a fast framework.

Here we'll look at a few of the frameworks that have fast performance as one of their primary features.

Solid.js

Solid.js is a declarative JavaScript library, their page on GitHub describes it as flexible, efficient, and fast. Solid is designed for creating user interfaces but importantly uses a real document object model (DOM) – it has no virtual DOM.

A virtual DOM, or in-memory DOM, isn't slow but it does take more time to render every change than a real DOM. A virtual DOM has to render the entire UI into memory when there's a change to the UI, comparing the difference between the previous and current state, and then updating the real DOM with the changes. 

Solid's real DOM is more straightforward. Every component is compiled into a set of instructions and these instructions are used to create any DOM tree changes. When certain states change, Solid will only run the effects needed. This reduces the amount of code needed to run when the state changes. This makes Solid much faster than other frameworks that use a Virtual DOM. 

With Solid, simple components are just functions that accept properties. Solid will use its render function to create the mount point of the application. JSX is then compiled to efficient DOM expressions where only elements that need updating are re-evaluated instead of the whole component UI.

For example to update a property in a simple div element like this:

<div>Hello {props.name}</div>

Only requires {props.name} to be updated. The Solid compiler optimizes the initial render and the runtime performance is optimized by only updating the UI with the necessary DOM changes.

Solid has additional efficiency benefits such as the compiler will only include the parts of the library you're using. It's built on TypeScript and compiles expressions into JSX meaning you don't have to rewrite all of your code if it's previously been written in React.

Learn More: Solid.js

Svelte

Svelte is a popular framework because of its ability to compile down to a tiny footprint making it incredibly fast. It compiles code down to tiny, highly efficient components of vanilla JavaScript. Svelte is similar to Solid.js in that it has a real DOM that only updates the elements of the UI that need to change. 

The team at Svelte decided that state handling hooks require some unnatural code and create extra work for the garbage collector. They felt that hooks are not optimal for some implementations such as animation-heavy UIs. So they decided to just use the language itself for maintaining state by simply updating a count value and all the things that depend on it. 

Svelte has exceptional performance which, in part, is due to its real DOM, in-built state management, and tiny footprint.

It also has efficiency features that product managers may be interested in, such as accessibility, built-in style encapsulation, short learning curve, and ease of use. These features have the potential to provide time savings on project delivery.

Learn More: Svelte

RE:DOM

RE:DOM is different from Solid and Svelte in that it's a light framework – it's tiny, only 2Kb. It works with the native DOM using helpers to create DOM elements and keep them synchronized with the application data. This is another fast framework because it doesn't have a virtual DOM so it uses less memory.

RE:DOM doesn't use a templating language like JSX, although you can use JSX if you wish. RE:DOM components can be written with pure JavaScript. Therefore regardless of which JavaScript framework your team is experienced with RE:DOM will be quick for them to pick up because the learning curve is probably the shortest of all the frameworks.

The RE:DOM framework is smaller than most others and so some of the packages that you might expect to be built-in you have to implement yourself. While it might not be the best framework for ease of use, it's a great choice for projects that specifically require more of a native DOM.

Learn More: RE:DOM

Inferno

Inferno is a great choice if you're used to the React ecosystem because it's very similar to React but substantially faster. If you're used to React, you can save development time getting up to speed because Inferno allows you to use React packages. You can also use React Dev Tools browser extensions which give you familiar debugging capability.

One of the main differences from React is Inferno has a few changes to the event system. The Inferno lifecycle only delegates certain events which result in better performance. Providing lifecycle events on functional components means that components are lightweight.

Inferno supports both HyperScript and JSX compiling to JavaScript. Inferno can also support most React apps by using its compatibility layer sitting between Inferno and React. This approach is less performant but it can still help reduce the size of an existing React application. 

Inferno can work on the client and the server with Node JS. It has a package that can render components on the server.

So for product managers, Inferno may be a good choice if you manage existing React apps and have a development team that's used to the React environment.

Learn More: Inferno

Alpine.js

Alpine.js is another lightweight framework, and on the Alpine website it states it's 'Powerful as hell'. 

If you're wanting to upgrade an app that uses JQuery then Alpine is a good choice – it's smaller and has very similar functionality. The syntax is simple to understand for developers who are used to JQuery.

Simplicity is a big feature of this framework. It's a bit like JQuery in that you can add it with a script tag and get started straight away. The learning curve is really short because, at the time of writing, this simple framework only has 15 attributes, 6 properties, and 2 methods. The syntax is very similar to Vue.js and you don't need to compile any code. Also, you don't have to change the way you build your project and if you're already using npm then there's an npm package if you need it. 

At Alpine's core is its state management. Alpine will watch JavaScript data for changes allowing you to make it available to elements locally or globally. However, Alpine is better suited to projects where the front-end isn't responsible for routing or global state management. Alpine is ideal for integrating with server-side template applications, so perfect for PHP developers. 

Alpine is best suited to projects where you need simple UI interaction with elements like dynamic lists or menus, modals, and filters. Alpine offers subscription access to screencasts and source code for these building block components which, if you're wanting rapid project progress, may well be worth the money.

If you're a product manager looking for a quick win, Alpine is certainly worth checking out if you need a simple, modern, and lightweight framework. 

Alpine.js

Conclusion

RE:DOM is a good choice if you're looking for normal JavaScript DOM manipulation. Solid.js and Inferno are great choices for people who are used to JSX and React. If you work with Vue.js and want to use similar syntax and therefore have a short learning curve, then Svelte is a good option. Similarly, Alpine.js is simple to learn and implement. It can be a great choice for those quick-win projects.

Thank you for reading, and if you want to see the performance benchmarks for these frameworks they're listed in this article on JS Framework Benchmark.

Is Your CMS Font-End Slowing You Down?

Our was. HubSpot is good at a lot of things but the CMS is slo-o-o-ow.

We didn't want to settle for slow, and neither should you. We integrated a fast front-end framework into HubSpot CMS and used Snapt Aria for advanced content acceleration via DNS.

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