Ember, Angular or Backbone: Which JavaScript framework should I use for my project?

ember angular or backbone?

With so many different JavaScript frameworks to choose from, picking the right one for your project can quickly become a rather daunting and overwhelming task.

In fact it’s got to the point where we are seeing new libraries and frameworks being release by the JavaScript community on such a regular basis that its hard to keep up. Of course choice is often a good thing but sometimes this can just add to the noise. So if you are looking to start your project and your not sure which framework you should use then you are in luck because in the article we are going to look at three of the most popular JavaScript frameworks. In order to help you choose whether Ember, Angular or Backbone is the right one for your project we’ll look at what each of them does, how easy they are to learn and what types of applications you can build with each of them.

AngularJS logo

What is Angular?

AngularJS is a client-side JavaScript framework, developed and maintained by Google. It’s designed to make it building large, client-heavy applications easier. It’s an incredibly flexible framework thats crammed full of features like two-way data binding and built-in directives, which make extending the functionality of your HTML easier.

How easy is it to learn?

There’s no doubt about it, Angular lets you do some pretty amazing things without even needing that much knowledge. Whilst the basics of it are easy to pick up, it does have a steep learning curve once you’ve passed this initial hurdle. In addition to this some of the documentation is rather cumbersome and in some cases, incomplete. However, it does have a great community so if you are looking to get started Todd Motto has a great introduction on his blog. If you are looking for more of a deep dive then check out Thinkster.io.

What kind of applications can I build with it?

Being a Google project it’s hardly surprising to find the Angular framework in projects like Youtube for PS3. It has also been used by everyone from Mini to Nike, whilst an increasing number of news publishers like The Guardian are using it to make updating their homepage more manageable. If you are looking to build large, one page apps that scale, AngularJS is a good choice.

ember js logo

What is Ember?
Whilst still relatively new compared to the other frameworks we are discussing, EmberJS is an increasingly popular framework used for creating “ambitious web applications.”

How easy is it to learn?
Like Angular, Ember has a rather steep learning curve. It also requires a higher level of investment to learn the basics than Angular and as it’s changing so rapidly, a lot of the documentation can be out of date. If you are looking to get started the the ever reliable Tuts+ has some great tutorials.

What kind of applications can I build with it?

Some of the worlds best know and widely used applications, like Zendesk and Square, are built using Ember. It’s particularly useful if you are looking to create a large-scale, multi-page application. However, if you are only looking to create one-page app, using Ember may be a little overkill.

backbone JS logo

What is Backbone?
BackboneJS is an extremely lightweight framework thats best suited to building fast, responsive one-page applications. One of it’s biggest selling points for developers is that it only relies on one JavaScript library, making its download much smaller than Ember or Angular.

How easy is it to learn?

Whilst the basics of Backbone are relatively easy to pick up, it has less conventions than the other frameworks we are looking at, so requires the developer to make more decisions. However, as backbone has an incredibly active community, finding useful tutorials is not difficult. It you want to get started with Backbone then Github is full of useful guides.

What kind of applications can I build with it?

The list of applications built using Backbone is endless and includes everything from Twitter to Soundcloud. Backbone’s ‘hands off’ approach requires you to write a lot of boilerplates, which can be repetitive and unproductive. If you’re looking to build a single-page application then backbone may be the right framework for you.

As with most things, the framework you choose often comes down to personal taste. If you are a novice developer Ember’s strong conventions make it incredibly easy to pick up and get started. If you are more experienced and, like us you’re obsessed with performance, Backbone may be your framework of choice. However, if you are looking to use a framework that is easy to maintain Angular maybe the way to go. Regardless of which framework you choose the important thing to remember is to pick the one which is right for your project (and CDNify it 😉 ).

Have you worked with either of these frameworks or are you trying to decide which one you should go with? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Enjoyed this blog post?

  • Timothy Anthony

    Best article, it help me to know which framework to use on my projects. Thank you! 🙂

    • cdnify

      Ace, glad you found it useful : )

  • Shayan Ahmad

    Best Article so far! I was confused in what framework should I learn, I know AngularJS and it is easy but it becomes complicated at some edges, I’ll definitely go for BackBoneJS from LYNDA, thanx for the blog, keep up the good work! #CDNify!

  • There’s also Meteor JS (I come from Backbone background and love both) – official Meteor site and free guide

  • Mohsin Saeed

    I am using backbone with marionettejs (backbone wrapper) that gives me more features and I have more built in functionality and also it’s easy to understand.