ECMAScript, TypeScript lead among JavaScript flavors

State of JavaScript survey also finds big interest in React and Angular 2, while CoffeeScript is on the way out

ECMAScript, TypeScript lead among JavaScript flavors
JavaScript Planet

The ECMAScript 6 standard has gained plenty of adherents, TypeScript and Elm have picked up momentum, and CoffeeScript is slipping, a survey of developers has found.

Discussion about JavaScript is no longer about a single language, according to "The State of JavaScript 2016," a report released Monday. Rather, "it's actually more like a family of closely related cousins."

The survey found that ES6 (ECMAScript 6), approved in 2015, was the new standard, CoffeeScript was past its prime,  and a "new wave" of JavaScript flavors was coming. "What started with CoffeeScript back in 2009 has become an explosion of choice over the past couple years: ES6, TypeScript, Elm," according to the report.

While 74 percent of respondents said they had used ES6 and would use it again, only 6 percent of developers said they had used CoffeeScript and would do so again, and 25 percent said they had used but would not use it again. Twenty-one percent said they had used TypeScript, Microsoft's typed superset of JavaScript, and would do so again; only 4 percent said they had used it and would not again.

The Angular 2 JavaScript framework "is still brand new, so in absolute numbers it leads the pack when it comes to technologies people are interested in learning," according to the report. Thirty-six percent of respondents had heard of Angular 2 and wanted to learn it, though framework only recently hit general release in September. React's JavaScript library also fared well, as 53 percent reported having used React and wanting to again do so. Plain JavaScript has the largest usage numbers --79 percent had used it and planned to reuse it -- but ES6 was the "big winner" in terms of satisfaction, becoming the default for writing JavaScript applications, the report states.

Asked whether building JavaScript apps was overly complex, 30 percent of respondents agreed with this statement while only 5 percent disagreed. Twenty-nine percent somewhat agreed while 27 percent were neutral and 11 percent somewhat disagreed.

When it comes to mobile development frameworks, 30 percent said they had opted for native apps and would do so again, while 20 percent had this response for Apache Cordova, 15 percent for PhoneGap, and 13 percent for React Native. "The landscape for building mobile apps with JavaScript is still very young," the report noted, "and as expected, the native apps category still pulls in the highest awareness rating of the survey, as well as a very high satisfaction rating at 84 percent."

With testing, the report concluded developers were "not happy" about the situation, but Mocha and Jasmine lead the pack with 50 percent of respondents having used Mocha and planning to do so again, followed by Jasmine's 41 percent. REST APIs remain the standard in JavaScript development, with 79 percent saying they had used REST and would do so again, while 45 percent wanted to learn GraphQL.

The report features responses from 9,307 participants queried over two weeks ending Sept. 5. It was conducted by UI and mobile apps designer Sacha Greif, who questioned developers on topics ranging from front-end frameworks to state management.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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