Development, Thought Leaders

What's the Global State of Frontend Development? We Asked 4,500 Developers

October 13, 2020

by Patryk Mamczur

Content Manager, The Software House

The results of the State of Frontend 2020 survey are in. And, since as many as 4,500 frontend developers around the world took part in the survey, it’s something worth talking about.

Which JavaScript frameworks are here to stay? Is the composition of your product development teams compatible with global standards? Should you care about the rise of TypeScript? 

As the Editor in Chief of the State of Frontend project, I approached experts from world-leading software companies to comment on the results of the State of Frontend 2020 survey — and explain what’s in it for you and your business.

5 Key Findings From the State of Frontend 2020 Survey:

  1. React isn’t just popular — it’s future-proof
  2. TypeScript might just be overtaking JavaScript
  3. There’s a lot going on in the world of hosting
  4. SEO isn’t getting the attention it deserves
  5. Don’t forget about quality assurance

Sound interesting? Let’s get into some details.

1. React Isn’t Just Popular — It’s Future-Proof

According to the results of the State of Frontend 2020 survey, 74.2% of frontend developers used React during the last year. This information isn’t surprising, as React has been the leading frontend framework for the last few years. 

However, the second and the third most popular frameworks — Angular and Vue.js — were used only by 33.4% and 29.9% of developers.

State of Frontend Frameworks 
I approached Marek Gajda, the CTO of The Software House, to comment on these results. Clutch has recently chosen Marek’s company as the best software development company in Poland, so I wanted him to tell me what this popularity of React means for software companies around the world. Marek pointed out one very important thing:

"When you see that there are more people using React than those using Angular and Vue.js combined, you realize that React has gained such a solid reputation that it probably isn’t going anywhere in the near future."

For many years, React’s greatest competitor was the Angular framework. But, when asked which framework they want to keep on using or learn in the future, 68.9% of frontend developers chose React, 45.2% checked Vue.js, 36% decided on Svelte, and only 26.7% said that they still want to use Angular. 

This means that Angular has lost a big chunk of its former popularity and that React doesn’t have a true rival now. One might emerge (e.g., Vue.js or Svelte) but probably not in a year or two.

2. TypeScript Might Just Be Overtaking JavaScript

TypeScript is a so-called superset of JavaScript. It means that all valid JavaScript applications are still valid TypeScript apps, however, TypeScript comes with a set of new features, not seen in JavaScript before. 

The most important addition is static typing, which means TypeScript is spotting bugs (and providing bug fixes) before you actually run the code.

Do frontend developers like working with TypeScript? You bet. 77.2% have already used TypeScript and as much as 54.3% of them actually like it better than JavaScript. 

What’s the impact of this trend on software development as a whole? I asked Dylan Schiemann, the CEO of Living Spec, the former CEO of SitePen, and the co-creator of the Dojo toolkit. This is what Dylan said:

"With 77.2% of respondents already using TypeScript and most of them preferring it to JavaScript, it’s not surprising that frameworks are improving their support for TypeScript and many start to leverage TypeScript internally. It’s true for both the already established frameworks (like React and Angular) and the next-generation ones (Stencil and Dojo in particular)."

Frontend developers love TypeScript and the creators of frontend frameworks are starting to leverage it. Should you then convert your technology stack from JavaScript to TypeScript? Well, at least start thinking about it.

3. There’s a Lot Going on in The World of Hosting

In the State of Frontend 2020, we also asked frontend developers where they deploy their applications to. Among the cloud providers, Amazon Web Services is the clear winner with 38.7% of devs using Amazon’s solutions — more than Google Cloud Platform (14.2%) and Microsoft Azure (11.5%) combined. 

State of Frontend Application Deployment
Yet, we must remember that cloud computing is not the only existing option. Yan Cui — AWS Serverless Hero and the host of the Real World Serverless podcast — points out that many developers still choose traditional data centers (DCs):

"For me, by far the biggest surprise is that 44.3% of respondents are still deploying their applications to their own web servers! Once again, it’s a reminder that there is still a massive market for traditional DCs and that there’s still much growth opportunities for the public clouds."

Besides cloud providers and traditional web servers, there is also a whole new market growing — we can call it frontend-focused hosting. Solutions like Netlify (already used by 23.3% of frontend developers) and Vercel provide many features useful for frontend development teams, e.g. easy-to-use abstractions for backend infrastructures. 

So, all in all, when it comes to hosting, there really are a variety of options for you and your business to choose from.

4. SEO Isn’t Getting the Attention it Deserves

If your company is developing internal, password-protected applications, you probably don’t want them to pop up in search results. 

However, in pretty much every other situation you want a website that is successful on Google — to do that you must take care of search engine optimization. And you know what? More than half of frontend developers (51.6%) in the State of Frontend survey admitted that they don’t really give a damn about SEO. 

I approached Tomek Rudzki, who is the Head of R&D at Onely and he explained that it is a problem:

"It’s difficult, as SEO specialists don’t always speak the developers’ language. However, SEO is crucial for many businesses so you have to put as much focus on search engine optimization as you do on using proper HTML tags and designing a logical website structure."

If you want your software-based business to be successful on Google, you’ve got two options: either work with an SEO agency that will help you with that or explain to your frontend developers that search engine optimization is important. 

As Tomek Rudzki concludes: “Once you understand Google's perspective, it really doesn't take much to build websites that are both user-centric and bot-friendly”.

5. Don’t Forget About Quality Assurance

When asked to comment on the results of The State of Frontend 2020 survey, Guillermo Rauch — the CEO of Vercel — pointed out one very important thing: “Frontend development is a team sport”. And that’s perfectly true as during the last year exactly 92.3% of frontend developers have worked as part of a development team.

State of Frontend Survey QA Dev Team

In 90.8% of these cases, frontend devs were assisted by backend developers, in 71.3% cases they worked with UI/UX designers and in 64.5% of cases, there was a project manager present. 

Unfortunately, only 50.8% of respondents said that they had a quality assurance specialist (a.k.a. software tester) in their team. And, as Jessica Jordan from .cult explains, that can pose a problem:

"Nowadays, an increasing amount of the functionality of digital products is implemented on the client-side. This means that software testing and modern frontend development are inseparable subjects."

So, when you’re putting together a team for some new software project — whether it be an in-house team or a remote outsourcing team — think about quality assurance and make sure that not only developers themselves but also experienced software testers take care of your app’s stability and security. 

What’s the Future of Frontend Development?

Together with experts from world-leading software companies we came up with the most important current trends in frontend development. 

If you want your developers to focus on one frontend framework, React seems like the most future-proof choice. You should also make sure that your teams are familiar with TypeScript, as it’s quickly becoming a new software development standard, and with good practices for SEO, as it’s crucial for your success in Google. 

Finally, you might think about exploring new hosting solutions for your company and employing QA specialists — those are the way to gain a competitive advantage.

I hope that these findings will help you plan your business strategy for the upcoming months. However, you still need to keep an eye on the frontend development trends because, as explained by Marek Gajda from The Software House, some things may still surprise us:

"How will the state of frontend development change in the next 12 months? Of course, nobody can tell for sure but, in my opinion, one thing is certain: we’ll be surprised by how quick some of the changes will occur."

If you want to know more, make sure to check out the full State of Frontend 2020 report (it’s free). Also, see you next year!

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