Top 10 Front-End Frameworks You Should Learn In 2017

Posted on Jan 24 2017 - 4:58pm by Eric Tompkins

top 10 front-end frameworks

Here are my picks for the “Top 10 Front-End Frameworks You Should Learn In 2017“. If you want to be a rock star front-end developer, you will need to familiarize yourself with these great frameworks.

Like many developers, your likly to use the more wildly popular, tried-and-true options like Bootstrap and Foundation. But less widely known framework may more effectively suit your needs, so it’s worth it to get up to speed about today’s most popular options.

1. Bootstrap

This list would be woefully incomplete without the inclusion of the wildly popular front-end framework, Bootstrap. Created by Twitter developers and initially released in 2011, it’s the most used open-source framework in the world.

Like any effective front-end framework, Bootstrap includes CSS, HTML and JavaScript, or JS, components. It adheres to responsive web design standards, allowing you to develop responsive sites of all complexities and sizes.

Because it is updated continually, Bootstrap typically includes the latest and best features. For example, it added themes that met Google’s material design guidelines shortly after they were published, and it was also upgraded to use Sass as a CSS preprocessor.

Pros:

  • Responsive web design support (can also be disabled if required)
  • Extensive documentation

Cons:

  • Out-of-the-box file size of 276kB due to excessive number of rarely used styles
  • Excessive number of HTML classes and DOM elements can be messy and confusing

2. Semantic-UI

A relative newcomer on the scene, Semantic-UI stands out in a number of ways and is poised to become one of the most popular front-end frameworks out there.

This framework’s main claim to fame is its simplicity. Because it uses natural language, the code is self-explanatory. Even those with very little coding experience will feel fairly at home working with this framework.

Another notable feature of Semantic-UI is that it is integrated with a dizzying array of third-party libraries. So much so, in fact, that you probably won’t need to use any others. Therefore, the development process is a bit easier and more streamlined.

Pros:

  • Semantic class names make for a low barrier of entry, so even beginners can hit the ground running
  • Small file sizes and minimal load times because you can load only the components that you need; each has its own JS file and stylesheet
  • Versatile elements make for easy customization

Cons:

  • Very large packages when compared to Foundation and Bootstrap
  • Those with more complex design and development needs may find this framework lacking

3. Foundation

Created by web design company Zurb, Foundation is a highly advanced, enterprise-grade front-end framework that is ideal for developing nimble, responsive websites. Used on sites like Facebook, eBay, and Mozilla, it is also fairly complex and may not be suitable for newbies.

This features-rich framework supports GPU acceleration for smooth, lightning-fast animations and Fastclick.js for fast rendering on mobile devices. It runs on the Sass preprocessor and includes the Foundation-developed data interchange attribute, which lets you load lightweight HTML sections for mobile and “heavier” HTML sections for larger screens. For a comparison between Foundation and Bootstrap, read our complete article, Bootstrap vs Foundation.

Pros:

  • No style lock-in, so you have greater flexibility
  • Uses REMS instead of pixels, eliminating the need to explicitly state width, height and other attributes for each device

Cons:

  • Fairly large file size out of the box
  • A bit too complex for beginners

4. Materialize

The Materialize responsive front-end development framework also implements Google’s material design specifications and is loaded with ready-to-use buttons, icons, cards, forms and other components. It is offered in both a standard version and in one that runs on SASS.

Materialize includes a convenient IZ column grid feature that can be used for website layouts. It is also loaded with CSS that’s ready to use out of the box for material design shadows, typography, colors and other features.

Additional features include ripple-effect animation, drag-out mobile menus, SASS mixins and more.

Pros:

  • Huge selection of components
  • Responsive support ensures that websites are supported across all devices

Cons:

  • Large file size makes this a bulky framework to work with
  • No support for Flexbox model

5. Material UI

If you’re looking for a front-end framework that makes it easy to adhere to Google’s material design guidelines, you can’t go wrong with Material UI. It is by far the most elaborate framework to implement these guidelines thus far, but there is one caveat: It isn’t meant to be a starting point for a brand-new web design project.

Loaded with ready-to-use CSS and material design-compliant components, Material UI is built on top of the LESS preprocessor. Because it uses React components, however, a decent grasp of React is a plus.

Highly customizable, Material UI includes styles that are separated into individual files, so you can override LESS CSS variables without affecting framework components.

Pros:

  • Easiest way to meet Google’s material design guidelines when using a framework
  • Highly customizable

Cons:

  • Not intended to serve as a starting point for from-scratch web design projects
  • Need a decent understanding of React to use effectively

6. Pure

Created by the Yahoo development team, Pure comes with a lightweight array of CSS modules that can be used in just about any project. Using Pure, you can easily create responsive buttons, menus, grids, tables and other features. Because it is purely CSS based, however, it does not support JavaScript or JQuery plugins.

When minified and compressed with Gzip, Pure clocks in at just 4.5kB, making it one of the lightest and nimblest front end development frameworks out there. As a result, it is terrific for mobile website development, and many developers rely on it for precisely that.

Pros:

  • Extremely lightweight, ensuring fast loading times even on mobile devices
  • Flexible array of CSS modules can be used on just about any web design and development project

Cons:

  • CSS only – does not include JQuery or JS plugins

7. Skeleton

Skeleton is a lightweight responsive boilerplate that contains only 400 lines of code. This framework is meant to include only the minimum requirements to get you started on the development of a web project. It is not meant to be all-inclusive such as other frameworks as mentioned above.

Skeleton is also responsive, based on a 12-column grid system, and includes the bare essentials such as buttons, lists, tables, forms, etc.

Pros:

  • Extremely lightweight
  • Greater simplicity and useful for smaller projects

Cons:

  • Does not include a wide selection of utility / styling components such as larger frameworks do.

8. UIKit

UIKit is a highly modular front-end framework stands out among most front end development frameworks for many reasons. Chief among them is the fact that it includes both LESS and Sass CSS preprocessors.

Loaded with an array of nimble, responsive components with consistent naming conventions, UIKit has become one of the most popular front-end frameworks out there.

Its more than 30 extendable, modular components can be combined for even more versatility. It includes navigation components like side navigation bars; elements like HTML forms and tables; JavaScript components like off-canvas bars and modal dialogs; common elements like buttons, badges, and overlays; and layout components, including a fluid, completely responsive grid system.

Pros:

  • Highly customizable
  • Exceptionally modular, so you can add components to the stylesheet without negatively impacting overall style
  • Create advanced user interfaces using components like nestables

Cons:

  • Very few resources out there due to relative newness

9. Milligram

Milligram is another extremely lightweight framework similar to Skeleton. When Gzipped, it comes out to just 2kB in size and is used to provide developers with a simplistic and convenient starting point.

Milligram’s grid system is different than most because of its use of the CSS Flexible Box Layout Module standard. It also includes a few key components for getting you started including typography, buttons, forms, lists, tables, blockquotes, etc.

Pros:

  • Very lightweight, only 2kB when Gzipped
  • Uses CSS Flexbox as the grid system

Cons:

  • Few resources available due to relative newness
  • Minimal styling components available compared to other larger frameworks

10. Susy

Some would argue that Susy isn’t a front-end framework in the truest sense of the term because it is focused on solving complex layout needs. In fact, many classify Susy as a grid maker more than anything, but it can be an indispensable tool for those who have specialized layout needs.

Susy arms you with mixins that can be used to create grids. The framework does all of the calculations for you, saving a lot of time and effort.

With Susy, you can create any kind of grid layout imaginable. If you have been looking for a way to do this, Susy may be the answer.

Pros:

  • Superior flexibility, so you can create any kind of grid layout that you need
  • Automatically performs all calculations

Cons:

  • Does not cover all aspects of website design, so you still need another framework solution
  • No pre-built grids

tags: top 10 front end frameworks

About the Author
Eric Tompkins

Eric Tompkins is an Experienced Web Developer and Digital Media Professional. As well as a Professional Photographer and Technical Instructor. You can follow on Twitter @_codemics.